Just a few things you’ll use up.

HowTo: Solder by hand - Table of Contents

You need even fewer materials than you need tools.

To be honest, you really only need one thing: Solder.

You’ll probably want to get a roll of solder wick, though. I use it to clean solder out of the holes for through hole parts when I have to remove them. It’s also handy for cleaning things up when you accidentally connect things that shouldn’t be connected - the pins in some surface mount device (SMD) parts are really close together.


Most hobbyists will use 60/40 tin/lead solder with a rosin core. It’s what I use. I bought a 100 gram roll several years back, and it still has a long way to go.

The EU requires (with some exceptions) that commercially produced electronic devices use lead free solder. It isn’t that lead based solder is bad for you personally. The problem is that lead in land fills can leach out and get into the ground water. Commercial products are produced on such a scale that it’s a real problem. There’s no requirement to use lead free solder for hobby stuff, though.

You can use lead free solder if you like, or use old fashioned solder with lead in it. There’s advantages and disadvantages to both types.

I have ordered a roll of lead free solder, and I’ll make some comparisons between that and my 60/40 tin/lead solder in a later post.

Regardless of what type you use, I recommend you use 0.5 millimeter diameter solder. If you use thicker solder, you’ll have a hard time soldering small joints. You can use thin solder on just about anything - you just use a longer length of it on bigger joints.

Another thing to keep in mind: Whether your solder contains lead or not, wash your hands after handling it. Do not eat while soldering.

When you handle solder, you’ll get some of the flux on your hands - and that’s nasty stuff. You may also get some lead or other metals absorbed in your sweat. Wash up, OK?

Solder wick

As mentioned above, you use this stuff to remove solder from places it doesn’t belong.

I use a roll of 2 millimeter solder wick. I find it small enough to work on tiny parts, but wide enough to handle larger joints as well.

The same warnings about handling that apply to solder also apply to solder wick.

Warning: Fumes

Both solder and solder wick release fumes when heated by the soldering iron.

The fumes are from the flux only, and contain no metal (you won’t get lead poisoning from the fumes.)

The fumes can be rather noxious, though. Some people react badly, and can develop allergies or breathing problems.

  1. Make sure your work place is well ventilated.
  2. Avoid breathing the fumes.
  3. Use a fume extractor to help avoid the fumes.

HowTo: Solder by hand - Table of Contents