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Vintage Test Gear and Workshop Equipment For discussions about vintage test gear and workshop equipment such as coil winders.

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Old 7th Mar 2018, 2:18 pm   #1
JimmyDeath
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Default Availability of Leaded Solder?

I just noted from another forum that the REACH regulations on substances containing lead changed on the 1st of March which may make it more difficult to obtain leaded solder for hobby use.

If I read it correctly where lead is used in 'massive' form in a concentration greater than 0.3% it has to be labelled ¬‘Restricted to professional users¬’, whether that means in reality that retailers stop the sale to hobby users is another matter.

I have just been able to order a couple of reels from Rapid but I don't know whether that's while stock last.

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Old 7th Mar 2018, 2:58 pm   #2
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

I've heard this as well elsewhere. Interested in any further thoughts around this. RS still have plenty of stock as well.

If it is going to become scarce, I'm getting a couple of 500g rolls in sharpish. I'll be dead before I've used them
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Old 7th Mar 2018, 3:44 pm   #3
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

Rapid still do it https://www.rapidonline.com/rapid-so...g-reel-85-0610 £20 for a 500g reel.
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Old 7th Mar 2018, 7:40 pm   #4
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

These regulations makers have never tried soldering have they? Leaded solder flows like treacle running uphill
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Old 7th Mar 2018, 8:32 pm   #5
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

I still have a few part reels totaling maybe 1kg, should see me out! It is just the thought of what my dependents have to pay to have this hazardous substance disposed of properly. Along with oil filled caps and transformers, radioactive voltage stabiliser valves and all the Beryllium oxide in transistors etc. I must admit, whatever I work on, I always (and will continue to) use leaded solder. Just like I did before I retired less than 4 years ago! Wasn't a problem back then!
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 12:23 pm   #6
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

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Originally Posted by Sinewave View Post
These regulations makers have never tried soldering have they? Leaded solder flows like treacle running uphill
I acquired a reel of "Lead free" about a month before I unexpectedly had to give up work. (Health)
Terrible stuff, but I gave it a try out of curiosity. Just glad I never had to use it on a regular basis.
I treasure the remains of an industrial-sized reel of Multicore '60/40' that feeds onto the bench in my home workshop. I suspect that it will last me out. Tony.
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 12:46 pm   #7
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

Ouch. I don’t have a great affinity tin-only solder; it’s much harder to get a pleasing flow to the work and the higher melting point is a pain when trying to not burn off the insulation on covered wires.

Maybe I’ve just been unlucky with the batches I’ve tried, but I’d rather stockpile a big reel of Pb/Sn
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 1:32 pm   #8
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

I imagine that marking solder with "professional users" will have exactly the same effect that it's had on the availability of paint stripper, weed killer and the like. It'll be a matter of knowing where to look.

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Old 8th Mar 2018, 1:54 pm   #9
The Philpott
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

Yes, I am not (yet) too concerned. My local hardware store supplies various consumables that are labelled 'professional use only'. I think at the moment it's likely just a labelling regulation, as it with 33% HCL or 98% H2SO4 for cleaning drains. Nitric is restricted of course, but only because of the explosive connotations. The way society is going i think Pb/Sn/Rosin will continue to be tolerated.
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 2:10 pm   #10
Craig Sawyers
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

Here's the worrying statement http://www.complianceandrisks.com/eu...ew-reach-svhc/

SVHC = Substance of Very High Concern. It is really a wonder that any of us is alive, and have fathered (or mothered) children, since lead is apparently a class 1A reproductive toxin.
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 2:27 pm   #11
MrBungle
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

To be fair, they are right. It's pretty nasty stuff. If you breathe it in or ingest it in any way that is. Neither of which happens when you're soldering unless you're one of those idiots that licks the solder. The issue is however with the production, disposal and recycling. Historically stuff, including discarded electronics, were buried in landfill as part of general waste and made it into the water table eventually. This has quite devastating health effects for potentially hundreds of years and has been proven to cause developmental issues[1]. Mishandling it can be quite bad too [2].

Fundamentally the only way to prevent it appearing in landfill and general waste is to stop it being used in the first place. Batteries and roofing materials already have specialist handling facilities separate from general waste.

Stuff we build is likely to end up in the WEEE bins for disposal these days in the distant future but a lot of people just chuck any old crap in the bin and don't care what it is or where it's going.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1257652/
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897224/
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 2:37 pm   #12
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

I ordered a 250g reel from RS a few days before this. I did notice they included a ton of H&S paperwork and advisories with it, which seemed pretty excessive and went straight in the bin.

As others have said trichloromethane based paint stripper was supposedly restricted to professional use, but can be had on eBay under various brand names with no control of who buys it
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 3:10 pm   #13
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

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Originally Posted by MrBungle View Post
T. The issue is however with the production, disposal and recycling. Historically stuff, including discarded electronics, were buried in landfill as part of general waste and made it into the water table eventually.
Hello, I worked for a giant copper and lead smelting group for around five years and it had a colossal metal recovery operation, globally, across the UK, Europe, and the United States. The US operation alone was about half of the USA's entire copper production from secondary (scrap) metal.

It was then something of a leader in 'recycling', although I was later to learn that the term can be anything but green. Here is the article I seeded and wrote on Wikipedia, after I had researched the company's activities after it had been fined by the EPA. (It is still an ongoing research project of mine: I'm at 35,000 words. I've been following the story for ten years and until the clean-up of a contaminated site is complete, will continue to do so.)

Both the Belgian and US smelters produced lead ingots as well as 99.9 per cent pure copper. They amassed copper scrap from wholesale scrap merchants and did so in quantities of tens of thousands of tonnes per month: all kinds of grades, from industrial by-products produced by brass and bronze foundries, to electrical cable, to domestic heating pipes. There were over 20 commonly traded categories and probably twice as many specialist alloys encountered less commonly.

A lot of the lead came from alloys of copper and bronzes, in particular, but until the late 80s they were certainly buying car batteries in huge quantities.

They also bought computer scrap and circuit boards to recover lead, as well as gold and silver, which they then passed on to specialists.

A great deal of lead went straight up the chimney: a US EPA enforcement manager said that this single plant was, for many years, the biggest producer of atmospheric lead in the entire United States.

Run-off and deliberate flushing of heavy-metal bearing waste is another whole giant story - the one that I'm working on.
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 6:33 pm   #14
Craig Sawyers
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBungle View Post
To be fair, they are right. It's pretty nasty stuff. If you breathe it in or ingest it in any way that is. The issue is however with the production, disposal and recycling. Historically stuff, including discarded electronics, were buried in landfill as part of general waste and made it into the water table eventually. This has quite devastating health effects for potentially hundreds of years and has been proven to cause developmental issues[1]. Mishandling it can be quite bad too [2].

Fundamentally the only way to prevent it appearing in landfill and general waste is to stop it being used in the first place. Batteries and roofing materials already have specialist handling facilities separate from general waste.

Stuff we build is likely to end up in the WEEE bins for disposal these days in the distant future but a lot of people just chuck any old crap in the bin and don't care what it is or where it's going.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1257652/
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897224/
Several things. First, there is no evidence from Europe, USA or Canada that the lead in solder is leachable from landfill, and therefore does not find its way into drinking water. Witness the number of tin/lead solder joints in your domestic plumbing.

The thing that *did* leach in landfill was the low melting temperature high lead frit that was used to bond a shadow mask front of a colour TV tube to the rest of the structure.

And the two references quoted were (a) a study that looked at children's IQ as a function of the amount of lead in their system (no argument about that), and the second (b) was an extreme example of a backstreet industry in Dakar (Senegal) where lead/acid car batteries were broken apart on sandy soil, and the workers brought sacks of reclaimed lead and lead dust and contaminated sand home.

And the two-faced way we send thousands of tons of plastic to China for recycling (because we can't be a**ed), and we sent thousands of tons of scrap electronics to India to backstreet outfits who strip components off and recycle them, including of course the gold and silver. Go UK! Green Europe - send our garbage elsewhere!

Just read Al's post about this sort of shenanigans. To get around the problem of contamination from recycling many materials in the first world, and legal cases in the USA with the EPA (who interestingly have the right to bear arms in their duty), I suspect we now just ship it to jurisdictions who don't have regulatory oversight.

Last edited by Craig Sawyers; 8th Mar 2018 at 6:41 pm.
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 7:09 pm   #15
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

Leaded solder is banned on "wholesome" water pipes (drinking and washing water) and has been for a long time now. We honestly don't know the side effects of that yet. It takes decades to see a statistical variation in health and then that can't necessarily be tied to one improvement because we're making many of them. In the last few decades we've killed off leaded solder, leaded pipes, leaded fuels and even leaded roofing is going (because it leeches off into the drains).

Current recycling is scandalous yes, but if you look at China recently, they've just said "nope" to a lot of things. That forces us to deal with it. That is the right thing to do. Capitalism is a race to the bottom and the lowest bidder is always a convenient distance from your legislative territory.
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 7:11 pm   #16
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Sawyers View Post
Just read Al's post about this sort of shenanigans. To get around the problem of contamination from recycling many materials in the first world, and legal cases in the USA with the EPA (who interestingly have the right to bear arms in their duty), I suspect we now just ship it to jurisdictions who don't have regulatory oversight.
Craig, you're absolutely right. Very interesting post, thank you.

Within a couple of years after the Federal criminal case against Chemetco, all secondary (scrap) smelters within the USA had shut down. They couldn't meet the regulatory standards that were set higher after the case. The EPA had previously benchmarked some production emission levels against Chemetco (when it was still operating) but discovered that these were falsely far lower than the reality.

Scrap collection continued as usual (so at the merchant level, plenty of activity) but nearly the whole lot is now shipped to India and China. And you're right. The Stockholm Convention on POPs (persistent organic pollutants) is apparently a known protocol out there, but there is little or no regulation.

Nearly every gramme of copper that we use in consumer electronics has a grubby 'ghost self'. It is the invisible signature of dioxin production that goes along with the smelting, and the air, land and water pollution (lead, cadmium, arsenic, beryllium, mercury). It looks pristine when we see it, but that's the invisible cost.

We went through our grubby environmentally destructive history between the 18th century and maybe up to and including the 1970s to 1980s. Now, almost everything we buy requires a developing country to keep production costs down by downgrading the control of emissions.

The case that I spent so long investigating showed that even when heavy metals are captured -- for example in scrubber dust and solids -- that waste, if it's in a country with high regulatory standards, may be tagged so hazardous that it can barely be moved - certainly not in a way that doesn't hammer production costs. This is exactly what happened with Chemetco. They had millions of tonnes of 'zinc oxide' in a mountain at the plant. But that was a misnomer. It had started as zinc oxide, but after it had been used as a scrubbing agent, it was full of heavy metals and deemed too hazardous to move in a way that was cost effective. Indeed, there was no legal alternative use for it, so it just grew into a bigger and bigger pile of waste.

Finally, the plant owner decided to build a 10 inch diameter pipe, bury it, and illegally (felony) use that to flush the stuff into a tributary of the Mississippi river. That went on, undiscovered, for over ten years.

Regulation is a double-edge sword. It's best when chemical factories and production facilities are designed and run to have minimal emissions, and satisfactory, self-policing emissions control. But it is still far too tempting for owners of production facilities to flush stuff down storm drains, put it in barrels and pay a few dollars to a poor farmer to bury it on his land, or a fisherman to dump it at sea, or in other ways, hide it. Not justifying it at all, just saying we're really shielded in the West, from the true cost of our consumption of cheap goods.
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 7:13 pm   #17
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

The Dakar poisoning MrBungle has shown the link to may have peaked during that short period due to pica, a craving resulting from ingestion- one child may have eaten soil then others copied him/her. All very unpleasant.
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 8:21 pm   #18
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

I got a special offers leaflet from CPC yesterday which has proper solder in. £10 for 250g or £19 for 500g.
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 9:03 pm   #19
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

A quick flick through the CPC offer sheet this week is showing 60/40 solder as being cheaper than the lead-free. For the time being.
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 10:35 pm   #20
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Default Re: Availability of Leaded Solder?

Farnell have plenty of 60/40 solder in stock. I considered putting a reel on the order I submitted this evening, but on checking I've got around 4lbs of 18 & 22 swg multicore, so that should see me ok for the forseeable future.....

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