Low quality solder makes soldering tremendously harder. If you have trouble soldering, it could be due to the low quality solder you’re using. Invest in some good quality lead solder will immediately improve your soldering quality and experience.
New to soldering? I will show you all the basic soldering techniques in this tutorial.
Wondering what solder to buy? Check out my solder recommendations.
Do Not Buy Unknown Solder on eBay
One time, I had 2 quads urgently needed to be built for a coming race, but I was out of solder. So I rushed to picked up some solder on eBay, two unknown brands I never heard of. Although both claimed to be 60/40 lead solder, they turned out to be garbage and gave me terrible results.
I was working on Betaflight F3 AIO and Kakute F4 AIO boards, both have integrated PDB. When I was trying to solder the XT60 pigtail to the solder pads on the FC, the solder took a very long time to melt after applying heat to the joint (15+ seconds at 400°C). It was a massive PITA.
I knew it was something wrong with the solder I bought. So I borrow some brand-name 60/40 lead solder from a friend that day, and the difference was day and night. The solder on the same joint melts right away within a few seconds.
I’ve heard many complaints about how difficult these AIO boards are to work with. They usually point their fingers at the large volume of copper in the board. They are partly correct, the large amount of copper requires more heat for soldering. But the real issue for most could have been the low quality solder they are using (or simply lead-free solder).
Good Solder and Bad Solder Differences
Bad quality lead solder with too much impurity behaves a bit like Lead-free solder, and good quality lead solder is better because:
- it melts at lower temperature than lead-free or low quality solder
- it solidifies much quicker after heat is removed
All these mean quality lead solder is easier to work with, especially with large gauge wires or PDB where a lot of heat is required.
How to Tell Good Quality Lead Solder
Firstly, look at the solder after it’s been melted and cooled down. Solder with lead looks shinier while the lead-free or low quality lead solder looks dull and matte.
The second way is by checking the melting temperature. What I normally do is setting the soldering iron at around 240°C (464°F) and see if the solder melts nicely.
Normally, 60/40 (tin/lead) solder should just melt right away. Lead-free or lead solder with too much impurity would turn into something pasty and doesn’t turn into liquid completely.
Good 63/37 solder melts at even lower temperate at about 230°C.
If you have experience with any good quality solder, you should be able to notice the difference immediately :)
If you are buying randomly branded solder on the internet, chances are it’s crappy and purely a waste of money and time. You wouldn’t be able to tell if you are getting the real deal until it arrives on your desk.
The types of lead solder I have been using are 63/37 and Sn60/Pb40.
I strongly recommend getting brand names from a trusted seller. The two brands I personally use and would recommend are:
Choices for 63/37:
Choices for 60/40:
Apart from Amazon, you can also try your local hardware store. And avoid getting solder from Banggood at all cost!
- Jul 2017 – Article created
- Apr 2018 – Updated “Solder Recommendation”