Solder Fume Extractor

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Intro: Solder Fume Extractor

I finally got tired of breathing solder fumes and made an ultra-low tech solder fume extractor. "Professional" versions of this device can be had for ~$100-$200 (for an example, see http://www.zeph.com/zt-4.htm). I decided this was too much money, and built one for $3.

Step 1: Assembly

Here's what you need:

(1) Carbon filter (found at Wal-Mart, I used the Hamilton Beach True Air Replacement Filter) - $3
(1) Fan (I used a Honeywell 3 speed fan I had lying around the house)
Some cardboard box and duct tape

Steps:
1. Cut 5 squares of cardboard of equal size, sizing them a little larger than the filter
2. Using 4 of the squares, build a cube with walls only in the X-Y plane (imagining a room, you would not create a ceiling or floor)
3. With the fifth square, cut a smaller square about 1/2 inch in from all sides and punch it out
4. Tape the filter to the fifth square
5. Tape the fifth square/filter assembly to the "ceiling" of the cube, charcoal side of the filter facing out
6. Tape the box to the "sucking" side of the fan, and tape any openings on the fan to ensure suction through the box/filter
7. Turn fan on and solder like crazy!

This really works like a charm, and the charcoal filter does a great job of scrubbing the fumes from the air. This is a pretty simple project, but thought I'd post it to possibly help out anyone who is suffering from solder fumes. I haven't had this running for long periods of time, so after a period of time it may prematurely burn out the fan's motor due to increased resistance to air movement.

Happy soldering!

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    40 Discussions

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    smuhammad15

    2 years ago

    where do I get a carbon filter or hepa filter ? hardware store ? electric store ? what type of mart is Walmart ?

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    Zaacharia

    3 years ago on Introduction

    I have sleep apnea and been using CPAP for over 30 years and have a lot of CPAPs left over after upgrades. I use my old cpaps to bring in fresh air for me to breath.

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    tomc53

    3 years ago on Introduction

    For those who never have the time, I found one on MCMelectonics.com for $40.

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    canucksgirl

    6 years ago on Introduction

    I've been directing several people to your ible on the Solder Fume Extractor, and after reading an article about the health effects, I wanted to share it with you.

    In it they reference a Danish Study on the harmful effects of Lead-Free solder and they go on to suggest that not only should you use a carbon filter, but you should also use a HEPA filter.

    Maybe after reading the article you could modify your design (just a suggestion) as I really don't have any interest in creating an instructable showing virtually the same thing but adding a HEPA.

    Great job with your design.

    3 replies
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    sentryaircanucksgirl

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You are absolutely correct canucksgirl. That OKInternational write-up you linked to specifically states that "A HEPA filter is crucial to overall success (...)" .

    We did an efficiency test (conducted and analyzed by a 3rd party) where we analyzed the fume removal of a Weller Smoke Absorber that utilizes a very similar "activated carbon filter" that this article uses. The particulate removal was 11.1%. Whereas a product that utilizes a HEPA filter was measured at 95.3% reduction. http://www.sentryair.com/testing/SolderFumeTest-SentryvsWeller.pdf

    We strongly recommend that anybody who wants to build their own fume extractor to utilize appropriate filters. Or to vent outside.

    You can read more about the Hazards of Solder Fumes on our website at http://www.sentryair.com/solder%20fume.htm

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    chamunkscanucksgirl

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I might do this, if I can make it out to the local thrift store for a fan. I already have a pretty decent hepa filter from another project. I also have some carbon cloth that I can use as a prefilter. Though now that I'm saying this I might actually have all that I need. I just need time now :P

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    radiorental

    12 years ago

    this is a really good idea. A long time friend Bob, a lab techincian in the UK passed away from throat cancer a few years back. Given the amount of time he worked in front of a soldering iron (and he didnt smoke) there is little question in my mind that the solder/flux/lead he breathed in contributed to his disease. I doubt this would burn out your fan either. The increased load due to the reduced airflow is probably negligable. Nice instructable.

    3 replies
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    waldosanhappytomato

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    don't worry he just said that he breathed in more solder smoke than a smoker does cigarette smoke. also this is an instructable on how to clean the air from the solder smoke so it's not like there aren't options.

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    scubaru

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Now I can see this one simply recirculates the air after it has been filtered. Any smell/odor from the other side? Have you found a faster fan speed to be less effective as it may force the air through the filter instead of allow the filter to do its job?

    3 replies
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    Dr. Solomonscubaru

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I've had no problems with the recirculation technique outlined here, and haven't noticed any smell in the air after it has passed through the filter. I've found that higher fan speeds don't necessarily seem to improve performance, but your mileage may vary depending on the fan you use, I suppose.

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    scubaruDr. Solomon

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Now I am assuming you only use this for soldering. Have you tried it with anything that produces more smoke? I am looking to use the Carbon filter idea to clean up any cigarette smoke from my roommates this year. During the winter months I'd rather not be venting smoke/ heat outside so i'd rather a recirc approach. Thanks!

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    Dr. Solomonscubaru

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I've never tried this with anything other than solder smoke. Please let me know how this works if you try it with cigarette smoke.

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    austin

    12 years ago

    is lead free solder still dangerous or at least very dangerous. I mainly use lead free but i haven't ever used much ventilation sooo...

    4 replies

    you mean boiling point right? lead's melting point is 327°C but a eutectic mixture of lead and tin (63/37 solder) melts at a temperature lower than the melting point of either.