What solder and flux do you recommend?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Washer55, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. Washer55

    Washer55 New Member

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    I'm a beginner and want to start my plumbing project soon. I'm going to do a bunch of practice runs on some spare pipe and fittings but was wondering what the best flux and solder would be for soldering 1/2 and 3/4 inch copper in the house?

    I currently have some Bernzomatic WS flux and solder that came in a kit, but I wanted to check and see if there is better products to help with my chances of success.

    Please let me know.

    Thanks!
     
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    The solder choice, assuming it is lead-free as required today (at least in the USA), isn't as important.

    For someone that isn't proficient in soldering, I've found that one of the tinning fluxes helps. In the US, you're required to use a water based flux (the old stuff was acid based, which actually worked better!). A tinning flux has ground up solder in it along with the flux. It makes it easier to tell when you've got the joint hot enough as you can see the solder in the flux melting. Then, you know it's time to add the stick solder to finish it up. The required fluxes today are easier to burn if you overheat the joint. Once that happens, you have to take it apart, clean everything up, then start again.

    If a joint leaks, you can't just add solder...you have to take it apart, clean, and redo it.
     
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  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

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    I haven't used Bernzomatic WS flux yet, so I can't comment on that. This is some of what I have been using.
    In addition to Bridgit, I've used Sterling lead free, Silvabrite, and some others.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    I found soldering with the Oatey No. 95 flux and the Oatey Silver Lead Free Plumbing Wire Solder to be better than the old solder with lead. I had expected it to be harder to use than the old stuff.
     
  6. Washer55

    Washer55 New Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I think I'll stay away from an acid flux, but what are the pros and cons of the tinning flux vs regular non lead solder aside from it pre soldering? My selection seems limited in Ontario for some of these brands.

    Cheers
     
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Use tinning flux. Oatey No. 95 is a tinning flux.
     
  8. Washer55

    Washer55 New Member

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    Now would I want the regular or the h20 water soluble tinning flux for residential? Some of the work will be downstream of the drinking water supply line
     
  9. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know. If you asked if I would want that, I could answer no. But then I am not a gluten-free vegan who drives a Prius. I flush after #1. :p But stick around, and you may get a different viewpoint, and that viewpoint may be better than mine. I don't shove flux into the pipes, but do apply flux to the outside of the pipe and the part of the fitting that will touch the side of the pipe. I am not a plumber, and need an edge to make up for less experience. I want superior function, even if I use propane instead of MAPP gas and hold the heat longer than optimum.

    https://www.oatey.com/ASSETS/DOCUMENTS/ITEMS/EN/No_95_Tinning_Flux.pdf is NSF Listed to Standard 61, which is for potable water systems. The great majority of plumbing soldering is for drinking water supply.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    In the states, you cannot use an acid based flux on potable water supplies, so it's hard to find. I don't know about Canada, but they tend to follow many of the same rules. While you can sometimes taste the flux in your water after a recent plumbing job, it does wash away. The acidic stuff lingers much longer and if you don't clean up afterwards, can cause some corrosion.

    It's easier to burn out the flux with a water based product, which is why I like the tinning stuff...it gives you a vivid indication the joint is hot enough and seems to also help the solder flow better.

    Lead based solders have the potential to leach a bit into the water. It's not horrible, but depending on the water chemistry, it could be a bigger concern...don't use it. One of the reasons they had issues in Flint, MI was because they didn't treat the water properly, and it began to leach out lead from the pipes and joints.
     
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    My detector went off. It's been a while.

    Care to cite any basis for that extraordinary claim?

    https://www.oatey.com/ASSETS/DOCUMENTS/ITEMS/EN/No_11_Liquid_Flux.pdf has pH less than 3. I don't find a plumbing flux with pH higher than 4 -- not that I am claiming that they don't exist.
     
  12. Washer55

    Washer55 New Member

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  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    OKay, it's the water based (soluble) versus wax/rosin (insoluble, oily) based fluxes that's the issue. To clean the pipe and help make the solder flow, you need flux, but don't want one that isn't water based or you'll be tasting it in the water for awhile.

    The Oatey kit you referenced should work fine. If you're not going to be soldering a lot, that spool of solder will probably be enough. You can buy bigger spools that are often less/length than what's in that kit.
     
  14. Washer55

    Washer55 New Member

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    So from what I'm reading, the insoluble flux is drinking water safe, but if you use too much it'll take.a while to flush out? And it works better for soldering?
     
  15. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida ?

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    When jointing copper pipe with solder, flux should always be used. It does up to three things besides making a better joint. I prefer self cleaning flux. After you scuff up the end of the pipe and put on some flux, the heat from the torch will melt it and keep the copper clean while being heated. Flux also minimizes the copper from oxidizing when being heated and solder will be drawn to the hot flux. Solder does travel to heat. The solder will be drawn to the flux between the fittings and pipe for a perfect seal. If you try to solder without flux you'll notice the solder will not adhere to the copper very well or not at all. It is called a cold solder joint.

    As you are practicing the most important part to learn is when to stop applying the solder and pull the flame away. Usually you pull the flame away first while still applying solder. If you keep applying solder the excess will get drawn inside the pipe and turn into tiny little balls. Even the best plumbers will get a little solder in the pipe, it's almost unavoidable. It is why many instructions on faucet installations recommend that the aerator be removed to flush the pipes. I moved into a newly built home and connected the washing machine. I turned on the water and the washer to test it out and after that the water would not completely turn off, a slow drip into the wash tub. I had to get a new washing machine valve because solder balls prevented the valve from fully closing. I took it apart and put it back together and it still leaked.
     
  16. Washer55

    Washer55 New Member

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    Thanks all. I've ordered the oatey 95 tinning flux and will get practicing!
     
  17. Washer55

    Washer55 New Member

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    How does Bridgit compare to 95/5? Might be able to pickup some tomorrow in the US so curious to know if this is the brand to start off with on 1/2 and 3/4 copper.

    Or are there others to consider?

    Thanks
     
  18. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida ?

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    All solder at 95/5 are the same. Most likely there is one or two companies that make the solder and package for several other companies to distribute. If your doing a small project a 1 lb roll will go a long way.
     
  19. Washer55

    Washer55 New Member

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    Thanks. I think I'll get some bridget and sterling solder as both have good reviews. It'll last me years.
     
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