How dangerous are aluminum solder fumes? - RC Groups
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Nov 10, 2003, 04:30 PM
Registered User
BING!'s Avatar

How dangerous are aluminum solder fumes?

I unintentionally inhaled some and I have been having nausea and flu like symptoms since.

I am not sure if the solder is the cause but I am trying to figure my ailment out.

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Nov 10, 2003, 06:40 PM
Registered User
I'd call poison control before asking E-Zone, but that's just me.
Nov 10, 2003, 07:48 PM
Registered User
Not to unduly alarm you, but the inhalation warning on the particular aluminum solder paste covered in the Material Safety Data Sheet linked to below is pretty strong. I also think that you should get a professional opinion. Odds are you have not done serious damage to yourself. But it's just not worth gambling on your long-term health.
Nov 10, 2003, 10:01 PM
Registered User
BING!'s Avatar
I soldered a lithium poly pack with aluminum solder on Tuesday last week and another on Thursday.

It did not occur to me that I could get flu like symptoms from soldering. I did the soldering as usual on my hobby work bench in my living room. The room is like any indoor living room and is moderately ventilated. I have soldered on that bench countless times but this was the first time using aluminum solder.

I started to feel bad the next day after soldering. This aluminum solder makes more fumes than the usual lead, tin or silver solder.

Symptoms were joint aches, nausea, the CHILLS and fever (and little stumbling/disorientation).

I only started to suspect the aluminum solder after I had a relapse thursday (after soldering the second pack) and the fact that I do not get sick too often.

I really thought that it was "FAR OFF" that soldering could cause me to be sick like I was and I did not want to go to a hospital emergency room.

I called the poison control as advised and I have been told that I likely have METAL FUME FEVER as a result of soldering. The main culprit is tin and flourine fumes they say. If I do not get better in another 48 hours, I was advised to see a doctor due to resulting infection due to my body weakening from the POISONOUS fumes.

I am posting this as footnote to my post. I did not know any better. I should have gone straight to a doctor but I thought it was just a bout of the flu. I AM AN IDIOT. I hope this post makes others know better.
Last edited by BING!; Nov 11, 2003 at 11:31 AM.
Nov 11, 2003, 01:19 AM
"Hobby Apparatus" Flyer
Mikey C.'s Avatar
Hope you get better BING. Lesson learned, ok? We all make errors in judgement from time to time...
Nov 11, 2003, 02:23 AM
There is no spoon
Dax's Avatar
I'm glad you posted this because I wouldn't have thought twice about soldering amuminium on my hoby bench.
Nov 11, 2003, 04:20 AM
Turbines suck ;-)
I worked on a job where we were welding up aluminium bus bars BIG ones - (about 2 foot x 3 foot made up of several thick ally plates) - I recall that we supplied gallons and gallons of milk for the welders to drink - apparently this helped prevent them from getting ill - also they were all positive pressure ventilated in their helmets!!
Nov 11, 2003, 04:21 AM
radar jammer
Greebe's Avatar
Also understand that there is a reason for many products sold under the Industrial/Commercial classification for reasons just like this. Joe average consumer does not normally take the time to read the label/directions or the MSDS and heed their warnings. Sad but true

BTW it's not so much the tin that's causing the issue, but the florine component.

Hope you're feelin better JT. Lets hope this incident prevents another from similar situation
Nov 11, 2003, 04:51 AM
Sloping off....
leccyflyer's Avatar
Thanks for posting this JT, hopefully it will make the hazards of products of this type known to fellow modellers and I hope that you have a speedy recovery.

Nov 11, 2003, 07:41 AM
Registered User
JT, this is the kind of thing that could happen to any number of us. You did the right thing by posting the question here, and by following up with the medical opinion. With so many people starting to solder their own Li-poly cells with aluminum solder, this thread will serve as a good warning to all. Please let us know how you're feeling in a few days.
Nov 11, 2003, 08:43 AM
Registered User
vintage1's Avatar
It does sound like you had a real infection (fever/joint pains) as well as being badly affected by the fumes.

Its quite likely that anything that irritates the lungs will cause a fever to flare up, and get worse. As an inveterate smoker, I know that is true.

If yu have any chest infection symptoms at all - coughing, sore nose/throat, and in particular any asthma like symptoms - wheezing shortness of breath etc - stay well away from the model room.

I have found that balsa dust, solvent fumes and in particular CA fumes do very bad things to my lungs - it passes, but if there is an infection there, it can get VERY serious indeed. I have had two infections that got very bad associated with me being a bit ill and working with heavy dust and/or solvents.

The doctor who attended me said that to completely clear a lung infection takes a long time, and free passage of fresh air deep into the lungs: If they are all swollen from irritants, they don't get the fresh air, and the infections linger.

In the case of serious persistent lung irritation, they never go. Its called Emphysema - Chronic bronchitis, or 'smokers cough'.

If you do get stuff in there, concentrate on breathing OUT as FAR as you can takes many secnds to completely collapse the lung and expel all the muck - before taking a gulp of fresh air deep into the lungs. With luck, you will then be able to cough up the irritants. Works for me anyway.

Look after those lungs. They can take short doses of many things, and recover well. Just don't mmake a habit of it.
Nov 11, 2003, 09:27 AM
Does anyone hear a cat?
headless's Avatar
Ow... i was just thinking this week 'maybe soldering aluminum isn't too bad, i'll look around on e-zone and maybe build my own lipo packs"
hell no.
Nov 11, 2003, 09:42 AM
Registered User
vintage1's Avatar
Just use a dust mask and keep the window open.
Nov 11, 2003, 10:06 AM
Registered User
BING!'s Avatar

some reference material...

Metal fume fever

Zinc oxide fumes cause a flu-like illness called Metal Fume Fever. Symptoms of Metal Fume Fever include headache, fever, chills, muscle aches, thirst, nausea, vomiting, chest soreness, fatigue, gastrointestinal pain, weakness, and tiredness. The symptoms usually start several hours after exposure; the attack may last 6 to 24 hours. Complete recovery generally occurs without intervention within 24 to 48 hours. Metal Fume Fever is more likely to occur after a period away from the job (after weekends or vacations). High levels of exposure may cause a metallic or sweet taste in the mouth, dry and irritated throat, thirst, and coughing at the time of the exposure. Several hours after exposure, a low-grade fever (seldom higher than 102 F or 39 C). Then comes sweating and chills before temperature returns to normal in 1 to 4 hours. If you encounter these symptoms, contact a physician and have a medical examination / evaluation. There is no information in the literature regarding the effects of long-term exposure to zinc oxide fumes.

Symptoms: Systemic illness caused by inhalation of the oxides of various metals (including zinc). Symptoms include nausea, chills, diarrhea, headache and respiratory complaints.

Signs: leucocytosis (high white blood cell count) is common; normal chest x-ray;

Onset after exposure: 3-10 hours;

Heavy exposure to: zinc oxide fume or dust, e.g., after welding or flame cutting of galvanized steel, high temperature zinc coating processes, or metal pouring in brass foundries; (Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.)

Resolution: spontaneously within 48 hours;

Comments: After an episode, there is a temporary period of tolerance for a day or two afterwards. Copper and magnesium fume can also cause metal fume fever. It is important to distinguish metal fume fever from cadmium pneumonitis.

__________________________________________________ __

Thanks to UTAHRC. Your frank remark led me to act on my suspicion that I was perhaps poisoned by the fumes.
Nov 11, 2003, 10:16 AM
Pack Rat
KLH's Avatar
Sorry about your problem, hope your lungs clear up soon!
Thanks for posting the info.
Like a lot of us here I've recently done some Lipo pack soldering with alum, but fortunately I didn't have the kind of problem you did. Been soldering things for years without any problems so just ASSUMED using alum. would be the same and didn't bother to read the warnings. I'll be a lot more careful with it in the future.