Soldering and brazing are processes used to join two pieces of metal, either through melting a filler material or with adhesive. While these processes can be incredibly useful for many applications, they come with potential hazards that must be considered to maintain safe working conditions. This article will discuss the health and safety hazards associated with brazing and soldering and the precautions that must be taken to stay safe.
Brazing and Soldering Hazards and Precautions
Brazing and soldering, in essence, are the same in that they both melt the filler metal (braze or solder) only, not the base materials. The liquid filler metal wets the base materials through capillary action. When the liquid filler metal solidifies, it is bonded to the base materials, creating a joint. What differentiates soldering and brazing is the melting temperature of the filler metal; brazing is hotter.
Cadmium and Beryllium
Brazing and soldering with or on alloys containing cadmium or beryllium can be extremely hazardous because the fumes are toxic and can cause death.
- Always avoid skin contact with cadmium and beryllium.
- Consult an expert in industrial hygiene whenever using cadmium or beryllium compounds or performing repairs on parts containing the metals.
Fluxes containing fluoride compounds are also toxic. Adequate ventilation is essential when soldering or brazing, and the operator should always observe good safety practices.
A common hazard when soldering is the skin, eyes, and clothing exposure to acid fluxes. Be sure to observe these safety precautions when brazing or soldering:
- Always work so that flux will not spill on the skin or clothing.
- Always wear chemical splash-proof goggles, rubber gloves, and long sleeves when using cleaning, pickling, or acids.
- If you are exposed to any chemical solutions, acids, or fluxes, wash the affected area at once, and seek medical attention immediately.
- Remove or keep away all flammable material from the heating flames. Remember, heating soldering copper sometimes presents a fire hazard if an open flame is used.
- When performing hot work, ensure no flammable vapors are present, such as gasoline, acetylene, or other flammable gases.
- Do NOT start a job until you have taken all safety precautions and the fire marshal has notified, if applicable.
Brazing and soldering can be invaluable for joining metals, but they have unique health and safety concerns. By following the proper procedures and precautions, such as wearing protective gear and avoiding exposure to hazardous chemicals, workers can safely and effectively use these processes for their applications. All brazing and soldering operations must be conducted safely to ensure the safety of everyone involved. With the proper care, these processes can be used with great success.