What Type of Solder Should You Use for Motherboards?

When it comes to soldering, there are a variety of solders to use for a variety of tasks. For motherboards, you will find very quickly that you are working with an intricate and delicate piece of equipment. So, what type of solder should you use for motherboards?

When you are soldering on motherboards, you should use a solder with a 60/40 rosin core or a 63/37 tin-lead solder with a flexible rosin core. Avoid acid cores. It is recommended to use lead-based solders because they are easier to work with.

If you are frightened about the thought of working with lead, then this article will you put you right at ease and show you just how harmless and easy it can be. Continue reading to discover more about the different types of solder that work best with motherboards.

The Type of Solder You Should Be Using for Motherboards

When you are soldering electronics rather than plumbing, there are two main types of solder that can be used: lead-based solder and lead-free solder. The biggest difference between the two is the temperature they melt at, which affects how easy they are to work with.

When soldering on motherboards, it is best to go with a lead-based solder because it does not have a very high melting temperature, making it easy to work with and safe for your motherboard. 

A 60/40 solder is approximately 60 percent tin and 40 percent lead while a 63/37 solder is 63 percent tin and 37 percent lead. The tin in this solder is what allows the melting temperature to be low, which is 180 to 190 degrees Celsius.

Most people would recommend choosing the solder that has the least amount of lead or no lead at all, but it really just comes down to your preference.

Lead-based solder is also only dangerous if you are inhaling the fumes for very long periods of time, and the chances of extreme exposure to lead while soldering are very small.

It is very important to avoid acid cores because those types of solders are used in plumbing and will ruin your motherboard.

How Do I Know If My Solder Is Lead-Free?

It can be very easy to determine whether you have lead-free solder or lead-based solder. 

There are two different ways can do this:

  1. Read the label on your solder. If you have just bought some new solder, then you will easily be able to tell if it contains lead or not. The label will likely not say “Contains no lead.” It will most likely have Pb, which is lead on the periodic table. If there is a percentage beside Pb, then it is lead based. If it says no Pb or has the classic circle with a line going across it diagonally and Pb inside the symbol, then it is lead free. 
  2. Run a quick test. Since lead free solder has a higher melting point, you can set your soldering iron to 180 to 190 degrees Celsius, because that is the temperature that lead based solder melts. Now, try heating soldering a component on your motherboard. If it melts easily, then it is lead based. If it is not melting easily or at all, then it is lead free. 

One experienced solder noted (humorously) that if you find yourself getting angry at the solder because it is hard to work with, then you know without a doubt that you have lead free solder!

Best Safety Practices When Using Lead Based Solder

Lead poisoning can cause serious health problems and even death. This makes it a little scary to think about using lead-based solder.

You should not worry too much about this, though. Follow these safety guidelines when using lead-based solder and you will be fine. 

  • Solder in a well-ventilated area.
  • Always wash your hands after soldering.
  • Do not eat or drink in soldering areas.
  • Use Personal Protective Equipment.
    • Protective Clothing- Wear long sleeve shirts and pants that are made of cotton and closed-toed shoes. It is also recommended to wear protective heat-resistant gloves.
    • Safety Goggles

You are not putting yourself at a high risk of getting lead poisoning when soldering, but there is a risk, if you do not follow these safety practices, that you could get it. 

Be sure to remember these guidelines in order to feel secure while you are soldering.

Is Lead Free Solder Good for Electronics?

While it is obviously the safer option to go with lead-free solder, this type of solder has a much higher melting temperature than lead-based solder which can cause damage to your motherboard. 

This does not make is bad for electronics, it only makes it more difficult to work with and most people find that they become easily frustrated with the lead-free solder. 

If you are too worried about inhaling lead fumes, then it would be perfectly fine if you decided to choose a lead-free solder. It is important to note, though, that since lead-free solder has a higher melting point, it’s going to be less forgiving and harder to use.

Unless you are very experienced at soldering, you could easily damage your motherboard. 

Ultimately, it all comes down to what you are comfortable working with. As long as you know how to solder well, lead-free solder will be a good choice to use on your motherboard.

What Type of Flux Should You Use for a Motherboard?

Flux is the product that cleans the soldering area so that your solder will flow easily and allow you to create a perfect solder joint. When you are choosing a flux, it is important that you check to see if you r flux would be compatible with the types of metals that are used in your circuit boards. 

There are three different types of flux you can choose from when soldering on a motherboard.

  1. Water soluble flux- The best flux to use on motherboards. It is durable and easy to use. You will be able to cut your soldering inventory down because it will make cleaning very easy and does not require you to have any extra chemical solvents. 
  2. Rosin-core flux- This is the next best option if you do want to use water soluble flux. A chemical solvent must be used in order to allow this flux to deoxidize and thoroughly clean the soldering area. 
  3. Mildly activated rosin- This flux is great for disinfecting dirty wires, but often leaves stains after soldering. 

Water soluble flux is the best type of flux to use for motherboards. It is easy to use, cleans the soldering area very well and quickly, and can withstand any type of weather that it is put through. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, while you may think it would be dangerous to use lead-based solder, following a few safety guidelines will keep you out of harm’s way and will make it easy for you to begin soldering on your motherboard.

When you are soldering on motherboards, you should use a solder with:

  • A 60/40 rosin core, or 
  • A 63/37 tin-lead solder with a flexible rosin core
  • Also, make sure to avoid acid cores

If you do decide to use lead-free solder, that is perfectly fine. Just make sure that your soldering skills are excellent and that you can keep your anger under control in case things start to get a little tricky. 

Whatever you decide, it will be the right decision because what you are comfortable with and prefer is what is important. 

Sources

Well PCB

Dummies

Stack Exchange

Blink

Lifewire

Alexander Berk

A bit about myself: I am a certified international welding engineer (IWE) who worked in different welding projects for TIG, MIG, MAG, and Resistance Spot welding. Most recently as a Process Engineer for Laser and TIG welding processes. To address some of the questions I frequently got asked or was wondering myself during my job, I started this blog. It has become a bit of a pet project, as I want to learn more about the details about welding. I sincerely hope it will help you to improve your welding results as much as it did improve mine.

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