If you’re tackling an electronics project, you’re tackling soldering as well and done improperly, soldering can be extremely dangerous.
Soldering revolves around working with a hot soldering iron, and equally hot solder. There is a possibility for severe burns, poisoning or even starting a fire, so before you pick up a soldering gun, you should review a few safety tips first.
Always ear eye protection, as solder has been known to spit (bubble).
Cotton clothing that fully covers the arms, legs and feet is also recommended to prevent burns. Lead is present in most solders, so be sure to wear gloves during your project.
Soldering irons are hot enough to liquefy metal and temperatures can hit as high as 538 degrees Celsius (1000 degrees Fahrenheit), more than enough to cause third-degree burns in milliseconds. Burn accidents can be extremely painful and can cause serious damage to tissues, which take a long time to heal.
Always be aware of where your soldering tool is, as well as the location of hot solder. Never touch the tip of a heating element, or newly heated soldier and make sure you work on fireproof surfaces, always returning the soldering tool to its stand when not in use. Never leave the soldering tools plugged in while unattended.
Lead is a toxic metal that is used as a component in many types of solder. Lead poisoning can lead to any number of disorders, and prolonged exposure can lead to digestive and reproductive problems as well as muscle pain, joint pain and headaches/dizziness.
Flux is a compound used to take oxidation off of surfaces to allow the solder to join these surfaces together. In electronics, some solders come with a flux core built into their centre. Flux contains acids and can cause acid burns or damage clothing. It may also irritate the eyes and respiratory systems. When working with flux, you should take care not to get any on your skin, in your eyes, or to breathe the vapours.
Choose a work area that is naturally well ventilated. Open windows and use fans to avoid breathing fumes that are released as soldering compound and flux melts. Eating, drinking or smoking should be avoided while in process of using a soldering iron. Ensure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you have finished the task.
When soldering electronics on a workbench, a big concern is solder runoff. Runoff is when hot metal soldier drips off the workbench and onto the floor or anything else that may be under the workbench, including your feet or lap. To avoid runoff, place your work close to the centre of your workbench. As an extra precaution, stand while working. Heavy work boots and a leather apron will protect your skin and clothing from solder runoff.
Finally, make sure that when you are soldering electronics that you shut off any electricity to the device that you are working on to avoid shocking yourself.