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What is Lead-free Solder?

Q: I do some soldering work on my guitars — replacing pickups, pots, switches, etc. — and usually use regular old solder. But I see there is now lead-free solder. What is the difference?

A: Most solder is an alloy of lead and tin. Lead-free solder often use an alloy of tin and silver, though other metals, such as copper, zinc, and more may be used. In certain cases, you may find that lead-free solder requires a more powerful soldering iron to maintain temperatures. Because of this, take care to heat sink temperature-sensitive components (a good idea in any case). Some types of lead-free solder also require more corrosive flux, which can increase the hazard of harmful fumes when soldering. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area (also a good idea, in any case).

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