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Flux it with fine saw dust (and a lot of it) – it can remove zinc.




Burning the solder must be carefully avoided. A pot of solder after it has been red-hot has always a quantity of dross or dirt collected on the top. This is principally oxide of tin and oxide of lead, the tin and lead having united with the oxygen in the atmosphere to form oxides of these metals. Lead being roughly 50 per cent heavier than tin, the tendency is for the tin in the molten mixture to form the upper layer of the solder – the part most exposed to the action of the atmosphere. When the solder becomes red-hot, there is therefore more tin burned than lead. Hence the solder becomes too coarse, and more tin must be added. Zinc is the greatest trouble to the solder pot. Great care has to be taken to exclude it, or to get it out. It may get into the solder from a piece of zinc, having been put into the pot by mistake for lead, but more commonly brass, which is an alloy of copper and zinc, is the source of the zinc that poisons the pot, into which brass filings find their way whilst brass is being prepared for tinning. If the filing is done at the same bench as the wiping, splashes of metal may fall on the filings, which will adhere, and thus get into the pot. Solder that is poisoned by arsenic or antimony is beyond the plumber’s skill to clean, but zinc can be extracted by stirring in powdered sulphur when the solder is in a semi-molten condition, and then melting the whole, when the combined sulphur and zinc will rise to the surface, and can be taken off in the form of a cake, the solder being left in good condition for use.

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