Traditional solders made from a mixture of tin and lead were once a common staple in working with electronics. Lead free solders have arisen in recent years as alternative to the lead and tin compound.
A gradual shift to lead free solders has meant a change in design and manufacturing of some electronic components. New designs compensate for the differences in soldering and help lead free solders last longer.
One appeal of lead based solders is their low melting temperature. A lead and tin alloy has a melting point of 183 degrees Celsius. Lead free alloys are typically a mix of tin and copper or silver. Many of these alloys must reach 220 degrees Celsius or higher to hit their melting point.
Soldering is important because it is used in designing and constructing internal electronic circuit boards in radios, TVs, computers and other electronic equipment. It is required to be durable so that electronic equipment lasts longer.
This is an area where lead free solders offer a major advantage over traditional ones. A traditional solder has a tensile strength of 6,140 psi (pounds per square inch). Lead free solders, on the other hand, can boast a tensile strength of more than 9,000 psi.
The biggest advantage for a lead free solder is that it presents less of a health risk. Lead can be toxic if enough of it builds up inside the human body. It can enter a person's body through skin contact or inhalation. That's one reason why lead was removed from gasoline and paint years ago.
Lead exposure poses the greatest risk to young children because their immune systems are not as equipped to deal with it. Anyone who works regularly with solders should be aware of the health risks lead can pose.