While a good quality soldering iron is critical for any soldering job, the solder itself is perhaps even more important. There are many different brands of solder on the market, but the majority of these will be one of two types: lead based and lead free.
Lead Based Solder
Lead based solder is the original solder, and is still used in many applications. It’s seen a decrease in recent years due to the health effects of lead, but it will most likely remain in some capacity due to its reliability and ease of use. This reliability is why lead solder is still used in mission critical applications, such as airplanes or satellites. There are a few different blends of lead based solder, with the most common being 60/40 (60% tin and 40% lead). For the casual user, lead based solder poses very little risk as long as you take care to thoroughly wash your hands immediately after using and work in a well ventilated area.
Lead Free Solder
Lead free solder started seeing more use after the EU put restrictions on the inclusion of lead in consumer products. The US does not have these same regulations except in the case of plumbing applications. However, many US manufacturers (including Iso-Tip) have made the switch over to lead free solder as a precautionary measure. Not only is there a reduced health risk, but the environmental impact is also reduced. End users have also starting switching over to lead free solder, as it is much easier to properly dispose of.
Both types of solder have their advantages and disadvantages. However, the industry as a whole is continuously moving towards lead free solder, and it’s possible that lead based solder may eventually be phased out completely. There are many different blends of solder out there, and it’s worth exploring them to find one that would fit best with your application. One potential option is our silver bearing solder paste, which is great for electrical applications. And remember, if you have any questions, you can always contact us.