Introduction: Super Cheap, Efficient and Quiet Smoke Extractor

Picture of Super Cheap, Efficient and Quiet Smoke Extractor

I really like instructables, it is for me a really nice source of inspiration. This is my turn, hope you'll like it.

The most common DIY smoke absorber use a simple DC fan and a piece of cooking fan filter. This works not so good. I used one a couple of years... It is noisy and doesn't sucks so well when the soldering is not right under the fan. Some fumes just pass throught the minimalist filter as well.

Another way to not breathe the fumes without a super fancy filter is to extract it outside your shop. The main problem of a chimney is that it will use pretty big ducts, which might be difficult to route outside, especially in a flat you rent...One of my friend simply solder on his stove, with the fan on. For my side I prefer to keep soldering at the same place than the rest of my lab.

Ok, so?

Step 1: Inspiration.

Picture of Inspiration.

This weller system gave me inspiration. A nozzle is attached to the iron and sucks the fumes right where they are produced. A pump aspirated the fumes trough a filter.

Of course a similar system could be use without a super fancy filter if the exhaust of the pump is routed outside your shop. In that way, you obtain a chimney system how doesn't need a huge duct, as the volume of air to pass is really small. A tiny hose is then enough and will be easy to route outside your flat trough a window or a small hole.

Step 2: Nozzle for Your Soldering Iron

Picture of Nozzle for Your Soldering Iron

Whatever rigid tubing of the right diameter will do. I looked for an aluminum tube, but ended with a part of brake line as the hardware store I went sold more auto parts than aluminum tubing... I built two aluminum tab to attach the nozzle to my iron. Note that for testing it was just attached with gauge 14 copper wires for a couple weeks. It didn't hold so well, but if you want to try it will be good enough.

Good thing is that the stand I had can fit the soldering iron with its nozzle without any modification. It will be another problem with a spring style iron stand. I'm sure you'll find a way.

Step 3: The Pump

Picture of The Pump

How to build a similar system with your own soldering iron and salvaged parts?

In the North American city I'm living, it is common to see a fridge on the sidewalk, already salvaged by the copper guy but with the compressor in a perfect shape. So I found one and kept the compressor, known as pretty good vacuum pumps.

Once you found one, rewire it if needed and add (if you want) a foot switch. You should appreciate it!

Make sure to keep the rubber pads as well. No really need for any screws. My compressor is just laying on the floor, under my bench and never moved.

Cut the copper piping as you like to fit a hose on the outlet of the compressor. In my case I soldered a piece of a 1/2 copper pipe to fit an old garden hose. You could use smaller PVC hose as well.

I did the intake hosing adapter with automotive (fuel line) rubber hosing.

Step 4: Oiling Consideration

Picture of Oiling Consideration

As you certainly know, there is oil inside the compressor. When used in a cooling system,the oil stay in the circuit. As my outlet hose is not transparent, I don't know how much oil is going out, but I'm pretty sure some is going out. Something like a receptacle to catch the oil at the outlet of the compressor might be useful.

At least it is still working without it after a couple month now....

Step 5: Filtering

Picture of Filtering

I didn't want small particles to somehow break something on the compressor. Beside of that it might also pollute the oil inside. I putted then 2 inline gas filter on my system. One located at the same distance than the power supply of the soldering iron and one bigger at the intake of the compressor.

Good news is that a cheap ($3-5 in any auto part shop) gas filter will last a couple weeks to a couple of month for a DIY use. As you can see, the fumes quickly makes a white deposit, that will at a point completely clog the filter (first picture). The second filter (second picture) stayed clean during the same time.

I'm now asking myself if a bubbling chamber in water, such as a shisha would help to catch particles... I didn't try it yet, and my system is working well for a couple months now. If you try it let me know.

Step 6: Hosing

I used transparent PVC hose from the nozzle to the pump. It would be better (softer) to use silicone hosing.

At least, PVC becomes softer pretty quickly as it sucks warm air. The outlet is an old garden hose, easily routed outside my flat trough a vent hole in the basement.

Step 7: Complete Setup

Picture of Complete Setup

You can now complete the setup. Secure the PVC or silicone hose to the electrical cable. The compressor is simply left on the floor under the bench. Make sure to keep the rubber pads under the compressor. I didn't even had to screw it.

Step 8: Plus and Minus

This system was pretty easy to build. It seems pretty efficient, and a really really nice point (at least for me) is that this system is really quiet. Beside of the soldering iron, a similar system could be used with an acrylic laser cutter...

For the minus:

If you feel more power, just use a A/C unit compressor. This will be much more powerful (also much nosier but this is your call).

I would like to add a bubbling chamber and an oil catcher, to be sure my system is going to last.

Sometimes, the nozzle is on my way when soldering. I become used to but it can be annoying specially at the beginning.

It is hard to whip correctly the top of the tip. Steel wool might help.

Hope you will enjoy your new extraction system as much as I do!


terrefirma (author)2015-09-08

What I like about this is the (mostly) courteous commentary and helpful remarks. Learning by doing, trial and error are what seem to be missing in the current school systems. When cramming for tests it is difficult to stop and even try to imagine the applied theory at work- whether Venturi or Newton's.Well done.

plouc (author)terrefirma2015-09-08

Thanks for your comment terrefirma! As english is not my first langage i've to confess that i do not understand what you mean by "cramming". But I agree, when I leave school 12 years ago I was really happy with my new knowledge, knowing how to do things and how not....Really that is the way i was thinking. You'll probably not be surprised if i say that i had to unlearn a lot... I especially thanks one of my first boss which really challenged when i was saying: "Hey it's not the way we are supposed to do it! It won't work!" At that time I've found it less funny, but really he makes me learn how to think different, and how to not take anythings for granted.

chuckr44 (author)plouc2017-07-17


1. To study a lot of material in a short amount of time.

2. To place objects in a small space being careful not to break them.

pepelephew (author)2015-05-24


I Made Pump From Old PC Fan..... Cheaper :D

ES1GB. (author)pepelephew2015-07-21

I am using old PC PSU case with fan and little 12V transformer-diode bridge psu inside to blow fumes away and keep my head cool ;-)

tokymaru (author)2015-05-19

It's a nice design, just one problem.
Fuel filters are designed as particulate filters. They're not designed to filter out fumes. A better option would be to use activated charcoal. A well sealed film canister full with a hose out either end would work well.

pfred2 (author)tokymaru2015-05-20

There's another problem, in close quarters work that tube will get in the way. Plus it is useless to begin with. Because a little wisp of smoke coming off a low Watt soldering iron is never going to hurt anyone. People that think otherwise should actually get sick off flux fumes, so they know the difference.

RobertC2 (author)pfred22015-05-26

I love the smell of flux in the morning! (Napalm, not so

I agree that unless one is soldering all day long in a small space, this kind of setup is overkill. As long as the area is ventilated and you're not snorting directly from the tip of the iron, you should be fine. Besides, I usually hold my breath when soldering. It steadies my hand. ;-)

plouc (author)pfred22015-05-21

If you do not feel the need, just don't use it. For my part, I like to use it, and will keep using it. Plus, it really increased the W.A.F (wife acceptance factor) for me to have a lab in our apartment....

DavidC60 (author)pfred22015-05-21

Long term exposure to any type of solder fumes is harmful for your lungs, nasal and mucus cavities, and throat. Even lifelong hobbyists CAN have damage from soldering without proper ventilation. CAN doesn't mean WILL, but CAN is enough to protect yourself with a cheap little project like this that doesn't really ever need to be done again.

pivoron (author)pfred22015-05-21

I'm age 73, and still going! Many years ago I built a Knight Oscilloscope Kit, full soldering all day long. I felt a bit strange a few hours afterwards, but, like I said, many years ago and still going.

Laral (author)pivoron2015-05-21

How many fingers do I have up in my left hand…,

left hand…, left hand…? LOL

voyageurs60 (author)tokymaru2015-05-21

Activated Carbon filters do not filter the fumes from soldering. The filter should be a P100 or P95 - these are particulate filters for lead/tin fume filtering.

Kinnishian (author)tokymaru2015-05-21

I recall reading that many of the harmful fumes in solder are actually sizable several microns big. A hepa filter or even a much looser filter like a fuel filter, will help alot. I recognize that activated carbon is 'ideal' for filtering, but actually more systems should use a good prefilter for the big particles.

Pat Pending (author)tokymaru2015-05-20

As I read it, fumes are vented outside. The inline filter is there to protect the compressor rom particulates. This is a great instructable.

plouc (author)Pat Pending2015-05-20


perfo (author)2015-05-22

I like it,,

Maybe small cyclone separator would gets the bits out on the way the filter?

It would only be using the existing air flow to spin out so no major build needed.

Think of a simple dyson vacuum leaner chamber I line with the pump.

Also the compressor sits in oil so the oil caught in the exit will drain back an wont be stopped by any valves.

acociuba (author)perfo2015-05-24

works, but only partly.

i tried both the oil catcher and cyclone aproach on two separate systems, one using a fridge compressor, one on a normal compressor, and in both cases there is some oil residue that builds up in the hose...

Andsetinn (author)2015-05-24

Nice instructable. As for the efficiency of the fuel filters, if they are filling up with gunk then they must be working (I used fuel filter on the intake of my refrigerator unit homemade air compressor. After years of use the filter still looks clean).

If you have a refrigerator unit and it doesn't start try replacing the relay. This 5-10 dollar small plastic piece is responsible for over half of refrigerator failures.

Mows (author)2015-05-23

I like it!; good idea will keep a eye open for a lost fridge unit........

dr4x0n (author)2015-05-22

Got to say that is pretty cool. On the other hand, you need a new freaking sponge dude!

Build_it_Bob (author)2015-05-22

Nice work; thanks for sharing.


eygen (author)2015-05-20

"Step 1: inspiration"

No thank you! I'd like the fan to do the work.

plouc (author)eygen2015-05-20

Right, I wrote it in English for more people to understand it. For sure this is not what I do best. Like your humour anyway and you seems to understand, then feel free to correct me!

boldsword (author)plouc2015-05-21

I don't think this person meant their comment as a dig against your English. Which, while having some humorous errors, still clearly conveys your intent.
I believe the comment was a joke, almost a pun, playing on the meaning of inspiration.
One definition of inspiration is; the drawing in of breath.
Given that your 'ible is about the removal of smoke fumes this is quite ironic!

plouc (author)boldsword2015-05-21

Then sorry again for my writing, I actually understood and appreciate the joke, (it's also working in French by the way). What I meant was: please help me to improve my English :)

eygen (author)plouc2015-05-22

Bolsword is correct, I was just joking. There's nothing wrong with your English :)

I just thought it was kinda funny because it would suck if you had to do it yourself. Heh. Suck. Get it? :D

londobali (author)2015-05-21

Well, you did it!
This ible inspires me.. i've been thinking of building a smoke fan for my soldering, but this is much better!

Thanks for sharing..

hertzgamma (author)2015-05-19

That is sweet! I am not sure how the oil container on step 4 works though. What is it for?

plouc (author)hertzgamma2015-05-20

It's an idea, as a bit of oil is getting out the compressor trough the outlet, the container will stock it the time the compressor is running. When you stop the compressor, gravity might be able to push back the oil inside the compressor case. I say might, because I'm not sure if piston or valves prevent back flow. Something to test...

djevox (author)plouc2015-05-21

The concept you are referring to is called an accumulator. It is used with air-conditioning compressors to return refrigerant and oil back to the compressor. The concept you are referring to is called an accumulator. It is used with air-conditioning compressors to return refrigerant and oil back to the compressor. Your idea would work if you ran two manual valves on the outlet of the accumulator, with one hose returning to a tee on the suction side of the compressor. You can throttle the valves while running The compressor to push oil back to the compressor. An easier option may be to add an external drain on the compressor accumulator that allows you to occasionally attach the drain to the inlet the inlet to suck the oil back into the compressor.

plouc (author)djevox2015-05-21

Yes, even a solenoid could just close a gate between the low side of the accumulator and the intake of the compressor when running. Gravity should do the rest.

plouc (author)2015-05-21

Really, thanks for all your comments, this is really encouraging me!

aking14 (author)2015-05-21

Just a note you should make at least the back half of the tube plastic. Having the entire tube metal greatly increases the electrical hazard presented to the user, there's a reason Weller kept it inside the handle..

plouc (author)aking142015-05-21

I didn't tough about that.. Heat shrink tube might solve this issue. Thanks.

pallc (author)2015-05-21

Awesome instructable plouc. I just purchased my first Weller soldering iron (played around using a wood burning iron 20 yrs ago for soldering) and haven't fired up yet as I am not sure where to solder safely. Plus I am working on RF circuits and just read that I can't bread board projects that are higher frequency. So looks like more reason to plan on soldering sooner than later... cleanly though. I like your design and will have to consider a high temperature tubing around the handle portion for electric shock safety enclosure. Otherwise, like you noted... a water trap bubbler for the input to the pump and maybe also a oil trap/filter too which may help the pump lubricate also. Seems if going through water you would want some sort of desiccant filter to dry the air before the pump or oil filter. Great job and excellent timing for sharing, thanks plouc!

Blaise_Gauba (author)2015-05-21

Wow...nice idea! Good work! Thanks for the Instructable.

pivoron (author)2015-05-21

Good instructable, I suggest removing all compressor oil and replace with same amount of automobile oil. The oil in refridgeration is not meant to contact air, if it does, it turns to a thick waxy goo. I found this out myself the hard way.

pfred2 (author)pivoron2015-05-21

Crankcase oil is hygroscopic, so it is not a good idea to use it outside of engines.

Laral (author)2015-05-21

I didn't know Weller even made such a system. I've been inhaling fumes for years. You can't avoid it. (But it never affected me… affected me… affected me… LOL!) This is a brilliant emulation too. Nice job!

Johnne (author)2015-05-21

Good story. It may work in most situations, but when I build guitar amps, point to point or other, I am always turning this or that way, and in tight places, where this may not work so well. My work-around-the-fumes-up-me-snozz is to find a small HEPA filter unit, about a 15" by 15" round type, with some 4" flexible hose, the silver kind used to vent clothe dryers.

I cut out two holes strategically placed at the intake/output side, you have to be creative here, and fix it in place with tape/glue/whatever works, and there you have it. It vents to the room, but since it is a HEPA filter, none of the toxic waste is deposited. It has a charcoal filter on the outside of the HEPA filter. I use this in my garage and if it seems like it has sucked a lot of fumes or I have missed some, I just open the doors. I have about a four foot section attached to the sucking end, and a two foot on the output end. I do have enough hose to vent to the door or window, but never felt I needed to do this. That my friend was my fix, and I have used this for almost 6 years now and it is going strong...though it will suck the occasional paper towel if not looking, just flex the hose smaller and pull it out!! You can see it there just past the hose and next the the tv.

Johnne in sEattle

e5frog (author)2015-05-21

Nice one, I just have a fan on the side to keep the smoke away from my face.
But you basically have to hold the solder iron in the same position for it to work?

AndrzejR (author)2015-05-21

nice project with the recycling of parts. thanks.

deluges (author)2015-05-21

That's a really cool project, I might make something similar. Although, as I don't solder THAT much I might just make something with no filter, quite smaller with a small turbine mostly to get the fumes of my face rather than sanitize the air in the room

mr fat (author)2015-05-21

the bubbling chamber would work well for this project, I would use two bulle chambers. Just to make sure that the particles get caught in the water.

VladM3 (author)2015-05-21

Great instructable. I will certainly build this when I have my soldering workbench all setup.

Thinking of my experience with painting, it would be good to have more than one stage of filtration to save your equipment. The more the better! But then again...if you are getting compressors out of fridges for FREE and they last a few months then I would barely bother with more than one filter. But that being said I have access to a lot of fridges.

pfred2 (author)2015-05-18

The little bit of smoke that comes off a low Watt soldering iron is not going to hurt anyone. I know because I have gotten flux sick, so I know what it takes for that to happen. Try dumping a half a pound of flux core solder into a 500 Watt solder pot, and breathing those fumes in. That'll hurt you!

plouc (author)pfred22015-05-20

Might or might knows at the end.

pfred2 (author)plouc2015-05-20

Oh you'll know if you ever get sick off flux. Believe me, you'll know. You'll be writhing on the ground clutching your gut in convulsions. So there will be absolutely no doubt in your mind. Getting flux sick is not a subjective thing, at all.

If you doubt me then you really should try it for yourself someday. I told you how to do it. Just dump a roll of solder into a molten pool, and inhale.

mosix (author)pfred22015-05-19

nice idea!

About This Instructable



Bio: So Raphaël, what kind of person would you like to be? -The kind that build bridges.
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