Does Solder Go Bad? Here’s The Guide

• Post By: Brandon M. Fox  • Updated: 06/20/21
• Soldering

Soldering is a necessary task in the field of various industries. Hence, soldering between two materials can lead them to a long-lasting lifespan. On the other hand, the joined cannot be separated very easily for many reasons.

However, as a welder or industrial worker, you should have a clear concept of some aspects. Does solder go bad? What are the exact reasons behind the expired solder? Does the reason lie on bad soldering flux, rosin flux, or solder material?

Do not be stuck with all those questions. That is because in this article, you will get answers to all the mentioned questions.

So, let’s explore more.

How can you tell if the solder is bad?

There are some signs by which you can be able to know if it is bad or not. Here are some signs for you.

First, a bad solder won’t be bright enough.

Another noticeable sign is, your metals will be separated from each other and they are no longer attached steadily.

Now the question is when does your solder go bad? Let’s be acquainted with the period when your solder goes bad.

The period of your solder goes bad

Interestingly there is no exact period for the solder to become bad. It can provide you with a long-lasting service or it can break down for a while.

Whatever it is an electrical solder or plumbing solder, it can become fruitless. In some cases, a user may have a 40-year-old solder that is active and effective. On the contrary, the wrong solder may break down after a time.

I think the new one can separate easily for the quality and type of solder. If the quality and type of solder are in good condition, then even a backdated solder can be a long-lasting solder.

For separating a solder, soldering flux contributes greatly. So, you have to be aware of the life of soldering flux.

Does soldering flux have a shelf life?

Yeah, soldering flux has a shelf life. It can separate after the deadline provided by the manufacturer company.

In some cases, flux life depends on the method of soldering. In the case of electrical solder, it can be done by soldering iron. On the other hand, plumbing solder can be done with a gas torch. As the methods of soldering are different, so the life of used flux in the methods must be different.

According to some experts, soldering flux never goes bad. It just dries up. And  it dries up, it becomes harder and the joint of soldering can separate.

For your hobby project, the flux will remain in 20-25 years old solder. Sometimes, the period is longer than the mentioned time.

However, the lifetime of flux depends on the date of manufacturing, experiment, packaging, etc. So be careful about these matters while using flux in your soldering.

Read more about: Complete Guide: Soldering Iron Vs Gun

Does solder expire?

The easiest explanation of this question is solder does not expire. Now you can ask, how it goes bad but does not expire? Yeah, it goes bad for a lot of reasons. But, it does not expire.

Solder life can be reduced because of exposure to oxygen. In the other case, the entire life of the fluxes is a fact for solder life. For most of the time, the fluxes expire, so the solder goes separate.

Another noticeable matter in solder expiration is the core of solder. The rosin core solder is different from the flux core solder. So the lifetime of these solder fluxes is different from each other.

While you are working in soldering, you have to keep in mind that you are not using lead-free soldering with a tin metal alloy. Because the combination of these metals is not good for long service.

Another important thing you should keep in mind is melting your metals that are free from leads at a higher temperature. It will provide the best combination of the metals. So, the solder will take a long life and result in a cold solder joint.

For better performance, you can use a flux pen or soldering pencil in your work. These can give you a long life solder.

The problems you can face with expired solder

You can face a lot of problems while your solder expires. Here I will mention some noticeable problems. Let us explore them.

Joint can be loose

The joint of the solder can be loose if it becomes expired. When your solder’s joint is separated or lose, you cannot use it anymore.

A cold joint can take place

A solder can expire because of the cold joint. In simple terms, a cold joint is a matter where the solder does not melt thoroughly. It can create different problems for you. So be careful and repair it as soon as possible. 

A short circuit can take place

Because of expired solder, a short circuit can take place. When it takes place, you may face a lot of dangerous problems. And to avoid these problems, test the expired solder regularly and take the necessary steps.

However, besides these common problems, you can also face more threatening and unexpected problems by an expired solder. So there is no alternative to be sincere here.

Does solder oxidize?

The solder can oxidize. There are many reasons behind it. Here I am mentioning some common reasons.

Using of no flux or insufficient flux

Your solder can oxidize when you begin to heat the metal without enough flux. So try to use sufficient flux while working on solders.

Because of temperature

Range of temperature is one of the noticeable reasons for solder oxidation. The temperature difference is highly responsible for this matter. So try to work at a friendly temperature.

Oil in workers hand

While you are working on soldering and carrying oil in your hands, defenseless copper can be oxidized. So never forget to keep your hands free from oil materials while working with solder.

However, your safety can protect you from solder oxidation. So make sure your safety first.

Verdict

To make a strong and reliable solder, you have to overcome the problems with bad solder. From the above information, you know that bad solder can cause dangerous situations for you.

I hope you have a clear concept now that does solder go bad and problems you can face by a bad solder. So keep yourself protected from the effect of a bad solder.

Continue your soldering with ultimate safety. Good luck!

Resources

  • https://www.harrisproductsgroup.com/en/blog/2015/november/flux-shelf-life.aspx
  • https://fastenerengineering.com/whats-the-difference-between-electrical-solder-and-copper-plumbing-solder/
  • https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/295421/does-solder-expire
  • https://www.quora.com/Does-solder-go-bad
  • https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-guide-excellent-soldering/common-problems
  • https://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/threads/oxidation-when-soldering.125832/

Brandon M. Fox

I have completed Diploma at Welding. I have spent 10+ years in Welding. Now love to write about welding and welding products and share my own experiences. Find me: Twitter | Facebook

Keep Reading