Are you having trouble soldering? Check your solder! Good quality lead solder makes soldering a lot easier, and the issue you are having is normally due to the low quality or lead-free solder you are using.
New to soldering? Please take a look at our guide on buying solder equipment and soldering practices.
Here is the story that triggered me to write this blog post.
Recently I picked up two different, unknown solder from EBay, claimed to be 60/40 lead solder, but both turned out to be total garbage and gave me terrible result.
I was working on my 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, these solders wouldn’t even melt after heating the joint for 10+ seconds at 400°C (752°F). It was a massive PITA.
After obtaining some brand-name 60/40 lead solder, it was a day-night difference – the solder on the same joint melts right away after in about 3 seconds.
Many complain about these AIO boards are difficult to solder, I think the problem could just be the low quality solder with too much impurities in it.
Differences between good and bad lead solder
Bad quality solder with too much impurity performs a bit like Lead-free solder:
- Good quality lead solder melts at lower temperature than lead-free or low quality solder
- Good quality lead solder solidify 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 if I have good quality lead solder?
Firstly, look at the solder after it’s been melted and cooled down. Solder with lead looks a bit shinier while the lead-free or low quality solder looks dull and matte.
Second way to check is the melting temperature. What I normally do is setting the soldering iron at around 240°C (464°F) and try to melt the solder directly.
60/40 (tin/lead) solder would melt right away, while lead-free solder would turn into something pasty and doesn’t liquefy completely.
Good 63/37 solder melts at even lower temperate (about 230°C).
Anyway if you have ever used any good quality solder, you should be able to notice the difference immediately :)
If you are buying randomly branded solder from the internet, the chances are it could be crappy and purely 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 type of lead solder I have been using are 63/37 and Sn60/Pb40.
I strongly recommend getting a brand name from trusted seller. The two brands I’ve personally used and would recommend are:
First choices: (63/37):
Second choices (60/40):
Apart from Amazon, you can also try your local hardware store. Avoid getting solder from Banggood at all cost!