Introduction: How to Build a Solder Fume Extractor

by KOMetzler

If you don't want to be inhaling nasty heavy metals while soldering, solder fume extraction is a big deal. But, if you look online or in stores for solder fume extractors, you'll find that they sell for around $40 up to thousands of dollars! After figuring out exactly what kind of solder fume extractor I wanted (a really awesome one with multiple duct-arms to use for multiple soldering stations!), I wrote down all the specs I could find, and headed to my favorite local hardware store, McGuckins in Boulder, CO.

I was able to build a working solder fume extractor for $70, when I would have purchased a similar one for $1200! Awesome!

For this solder fume extractor, I used carbon filtering. Other extractors also use HEPA filtering. I tried HEPA filtering using a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner HEPA filter, but found that it restricted the flow of the fumes too much. The extractor ended up blowing the solder fumes around rather than sucking them! However, implementing a HEPA filter is definitely a possibility, and I might try using both carbon and HEPA filtering in the future!

Step 1: What You'll Need

So far, I have made a one-armed solder fume extractor. Stay tuned in the next few months for a two-armed jig! 

For the one-armed extractor, you will need:

1     5" In-Line Duct Fan
1     6 foot length of metallic Dryer Hose (Duct Hose)
       (I used 6 feet... you can use however much you need!)
1     Activated Carbon Pond Filter
1     Metal Plumbing "step down" piece (used as inlet piece)
3     5" Hose Clamps (Worm Gear Clamps)
1     Power Cord (with loose wire ends)
3     Wire Nuts

Step 2: Attach Power Cord to Fan

Attach the power cord to the fan using wire nuts. To do this, first twist the metal ends of the power cord wires and the fan wires, so there are no loose filaments sticking out. Then, make sure that the metal bits sticking out on the power cord wires and fan wires are the same length. Cut them down a little if you need to!

Connect the white wires together, the green wires together, and the black wires together. To use a wire nut, simply insert the two ends (together) into the bottom of the wire nut. Twist the wire nut until it stops! 

Once all three wires are connected, plug in the fan to make sure it works!

Step 3: Put the Filter on the Fan

Cut the Activated Carbon Pond Filter to size. You want the filter to be big enough to cover the outlet end of the fan, plus about 1 inch dangling down to secure the filter in place. If you play it right, you should have some left over for changing the filter one day!

The fan should have the airflow direction indicated on it somewhere, but its a good idea to plug it in and make sure that you are attaching the filter to the outlet of the fan. Wrap the filter over the outlet of the fan, and secure it using a hose clamp. Tighten the hose clamp all the way, and pull on the filter a little to make sure it won't come off, or let any air escape without being filtered!

Step 4: Put the Duct Arm on the Fan

The long dryer hose is used as the duct arm in this extractor. Put a loosened hose clamp onto the fan before you put the hose on. Carefully fit one end of the hose over the inlet of the fan. The metal fan is kind of sharp, so make sure you don't puncture the dryer hose! Scoot the hose clamp onto the hose, roughly 1 inch in, and tighten it down. The hose clamp should be holding the hose securely to the fan inlet. Again, tug it a little to make sure!

Lastly, attach the step down piece to the other end of the hose. Make sure that the large end of the step is the end that is attached to the hose. The small end of the step down should be the part taking in the solder fumes. Once again, attach the hose to the step down with a hose clamp. Tighten it down, and give it a tug to make sure its secure.

Congratulations! You have just made your very own Solder Fume Extractor! Go test it out! You should solder within 6 inches of the extractor inlet for ideal performance.