Whether you're soldering copper pipe or stained glass, you will drop beads of solder onto your workstation. Over time, these droplets can accumulate. With the price of metals going up, get the most from your materials by easily reclaiming that wasted solder. Here's one way how:
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Step 1: Let's Get Burning.
-Crucible (The one pictured is graphite.)
-Crucible Tongs (Or any tongs that can hold onto the crucible safely.)
-Thin piece of metal or wood for making a channel mold
Step 2: Make the Mold.
Use the rod of metal or wood to create a channel in the aluminum foil. This will be the mold into which you pour the melted solder. Pinch off both ends to prevent the solder from flowing out of the mold, off the table and onto your foot.
Step 3: Prepare the Melt .
Have the mold nearby. You will need it as soon as the solder is ready to pour. Put the solder scraps into the crucible.
Step 4: SAFETY WARNING!
This is about to get hot! Protect yourself with eye protection. If there is lead in the solder you are re-melting, use a fume extracting fan and mask.
Use a heat shield to protect your work surface. I used a fire brick.
Step 5: Fire and Pour.
Solder melts at relatively low temperatures so this step will only take a minute. Aim the torch into the crucible until all solder is melted and flowing freely inside. Use the tongs to pour the solder into the mold and let it cool for an hour or two.
Step 6: Finished.
When you are done, you will have a nice rod of solder. Mine is thick because I will use it for stained glass. If you were going to use it for copper pipe, you may want a thinner rod.
Note: Unfortunately, this process would not be effective in reclaiming rosin-core solder for electronics. The embedded flux needed for a smooth solder joint would be destroyed. You can only use this for proposes where the necessary flux can be applied separately.
Step 7: Gratuitous Photo of Fire.
Playing with my camera while shooting this instructable, I couldn't pass up a shot of the cobalt blue torch flame in the dark. Enjoy!