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what kind of filter would I need to filter out solder fumes? Answered

would i need a HEPA filter or could i just make a little thing that fit's on a box fan and holds a bunch of activated charcoal. i live in the great up north so i can't open my windows to let the smoke out and doing it in the shop is out of the question because it's so drafty it can't hold heat at all. I'd like to be able to set up a soldering station in my room but the problem with that is the smoke being too noxious, it'd freak my parents out.

do they make actual specific filters that can hold onto all the smoke? or is it more along the lines of getting mostly everything but never quite being able to get it all?


An Instructable member has created an inexpensive filtration system for just that purpose. You might want to check it out as I believe its a good solution.

Since I also live in the Great White North, I concur that simply opening a window in December is not the best solution. And you have the right idea in considering protection from the fumes, as even non-lead based solder is bad for you. :)

Let me clarify the advice given. You most certainly want to use an "activated carbon air filter" versus a HEPA. The carbon filter is capable of trapping the solder chemicals, fumes and odors, whereas a HEPA filter cannot. HEPA filters are designed to remove dust, allergens and micro-organisms from the air.

You'll also see that the Instructable I mention uses a carbon air filter. Just ensure if you use this design, that you have a strong enough of a fan. Since it must draw air through the filter it needs to be capable of doing so effectively. Then simply position your "filtration system" as close as possible to where you're soldering.

You're welcome waldosan.

Good luck with your projects. Hopefully we'll be able to see some of them in the future.

Charcoal is probably right choice. HEPA filters are for solid particles, but I doubt solder fumes contained many of them.

More thickness of filter gives better results, demands more powerful fan. But doubtful any filter can take 100% out. That does not mean one must panic about it.

Tell your parents about the exposition - many people have worked lifetime in soldering industry, you are doing it and hour a week maybe and on much smaller productivity. If the smoke is vented just away from you and not going straight up to your throat, there is already much done. You can open the window for short period when you have finished soldering. Life is never totally safe and toilet fresheners are not good to anyone either. At least you can enjoy your hobby.

A side note: It might not be that "even lead free is dangerous" but that lead-free is more dangerous than leaded. http://www.electronics-lab.com/blog/?p=768 . I think the lead-free might be just a fragmented enviromental campaign (better than nothing but not complete solution) and making electonics hobbyists think it's good for them is mistaken byproduct.

thank you for the information; however I can't "open the window" to begin with right now it's +/-20 degrees outside, fuel oil costs too much to make opening windows at all practical in the winter months.

If you open two windows which are some distance apart (other wall or other room) for 1 or 2 minutes, air will be replaced with fresh, but all solid things in the room have not had time to cool down, so it takes very little additional heating to warm it up again. One window is worse because it does not change air very quickly. I hope there is good ventilation in your house then as houses with vapor barrier in walls are not too healthy (even without any dangerous fumes) when the air is just kept inside forever. Try that two windows trick once and see what happens. Just 30 seconds if it's really -20 (F or C?).

Rather than filter what drifts into your face, use a fan to keep the fumes away from your face in the first place.

I don't believe the smoke is much harmfull to humans. FLUX solder has a hollow core filled with something like pine-tar. That is what makes the "smoke" when you solder. When you hold the solder in your hand, you may get some LEAD PARTICLES on your fingers. Then if you forget to wash your hands and eat a food you are touching.... that could get bits of lead into your system. I think that would be the thing to defend against. Instead of holding the solder in your hand, it would be better to have some kind of dispenser so you dont touch it. Then wash your hands before eating. The smoke is sometimes irritating though. I just use a small "muffin" fan that blows a little breeze across my workspace and that works great.