What Can I Use to Clean Copper Before Soldering?


Cleaning copper prior to joining pieces using a soldering process is important. Impurities on the metal will obstruct the molten solder from adhering properly. This will create a fault in the joint. Whether the copper is wires, pipes or full sheet material, the connection to form that joint must be as clean and as bright as possible.

Wire Joints

  • Soldering wires together forms a permanent connection. That connection relies solely on how well the solder will flow between each wire and create a conductive path for electrical power. Wires that are protected from oxidation or residue will need no cleaning. These types of wires will be protected by a layer of plastic insulation. Stripping that insulation back and then twisting the wires around each other will form a good joint. Wires that show signs of oxidation and corrosion will have to be cleaned. In most cases using a piece of small grit sand paper, 300 grit to 600 grit, or a piece of emery cloth will brighten the wires for a properly soldered joint. The higher the grit rating on the back of a piece of sand paper, the smaller the sanding particles.

Soldering Pipe

  • Pipe connections for plumbing or perhaps as a hobbies project will have two basic methods for cleaning. The first method is to use a piece of sand paper or emery cloth, as described above, to polish the outside surfaces to a bright appearance. Internal pipefittings will need the use of a steel brush slightly larger in diameter than the opening of the female fitting. The brush is inserted into the fitting and rotated in either a clockwise or counter clockwise direction. This will clean the surface of any built up obstruction to solder flow. Typically a cleaning rosin flux is then brushed onto both surfaces of the pipe joint. Heat from the propane torch will create a fluid that not only cleans the joints, but allows the solder to flow into the mating surfaces.

Sheet Soldering

  • Unlike pipe or wires, sheets of copper may still contain a layer of manufacturing oils on the surface. The oil is used for keeping the material lubricated during the rolling process. In most cases, the residue of oil is kept in place to reduce the oxidation that may occur while the material is in transport or storage. Removing this layer of oil is vital in making a proper soldered joint. Lines should be drawn on the material that will indicate the joining line. Cleaning the sheets should only take place where the solder is going to be applied. Removing the oils from the entire sheet of copper will accelerate the oxidation process and turn the bright copper sheet to a green color. Use a clean cloth that is wetted with acetone. Apply the rag to the joint area. Turn the rag to a clean side as the oil builds up on the cloth. Add more acetone to the cloth as needed. Follow all safety instructions on the acetones label. Acetone is highly flammable. As a final treatment, slightly scour the surfaces with emery cloth. This will brighten the copper and remove any residue that could be left from the acetone cleaning.


Promoted By Zergnet



You May Also Like

  • How to Solder copper pipes

    The first step is making sure the pipe(s) to be soldered are clean and dry. Water will cause problems, so make sure...

  • Why Clean Copper Pipes Before Sweating

    Watch as a seasoned DIYer discusses the importance of cleaning copper pipes before sweating (joining and soldering) them in this free online...

  • How to Clean Copper

    Copper is a beautiful metal. Its beauty, however, happens to be vulnerable to the effects of nature. Therefore, copper requires a high...

  • How to Solder Copper Jewelry

    To solder means to make whole, to unite. Metals can be soldered or united together with the use of the appropriate filler...

  • How to Solder Copper Pipes

    When soldering copper pipes, apply heat for about 30 seconds and touch the solder to the pipe to see if it melts...

  • How to Solder Copper Wire

    There are many electronics projects that require soldering skills. Soldering can also be used to create metal-work objects or forms of art....

  • How to Clean Copper Wire Scraps

    There really is only one reason to clean off copper wire scraps, and that's to recycle it for a bit of cash....

  • How to Tin the Wire for Soldering & Circuit Bending

    Video Transcript. AMANDA CLAIRE: Another thing that you should do with each of your wires before you connect them to something is...

  • How to Solder Wires

    Soldering properly is a skill every electronics and computer hobbyist needs. Proper soldering appears deceptively simple, but it requires practice.

  • How to Solder a Galvanized Wire

    Soldering any type of wire creates a bond that lasts a long time. Soldering coated galvanized wire--which is typically used for fencing,...

Related Searches

Read Article

How to Build and Grow a Salad Garden On Your Balcony

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!