Soldering Safety: Essential Guide

When you’re soldering, it’s easy to overlook safety in favor of getting the job done.

In this article, let’s refocus our attention on the critical steps needed for safe soldering. I’ll cover everything from potential hazards to post-soldering precautions.

Let’s make safety second nature and make your soldering experience safer and more enjoyable.

Potential Hazards and Importance of Safety

Soldering Safety
When soldering, it’s important to remember that the soldering device, no matter how harmless it looks, is a power tool. Workplace safety is something that is studied more and more by professionals worldwide and, along with ergonomics, can help to make work less stressful and more productive. Remember always to put your and others’ safety first, and it’s important to reach a degree of safety awareness where you don’t have to think about all the steps; you just do it unconsciously. Besides, working in a safe and comfortable environment enhances the quality of your work, so both safety and comfort are extremely important.

During soldering, you are exposed to several hazards, including, but not limited to:

  • Burns and injuries caused by heat.
  • Inhalation of toxic fumes and exposure to them. Rosin-based flux and solder with a rosin core, when heated, produce fumes that can cause asthma, eye irritation, lung problems, and airway irritation.
  • Prolonged exposure to lead-based solder (by skin contact or inhalation) can cause lead poisoning. Unlike other elements, lead may accumulate in the body, causing heart and kidney diseases and neurological problems, among others.
  • Electric shock, even though is most likely to happen when using soldering irons connected to the power grid.
  • Potential accidental fires can be caused by accidentally burning the workpieces and nearby flammable objects.

Knowing the potential hazards is important to take the necessary precautions before, while, and after soldering, as we are about to see.

Safety Guidelines

Always make sure to take the following safety precautions seriously when working with soldering tools, solder, and tasks related to soldering and desoldering.

For ease of reading, I have organized this into three sections.

  1. Preparation phase
  2. Safety precautions during soldering
  3. Post-soldering safety

Preparation Before Soldering

Before soldering, it’s important to make some preparations to help you work comfortably and safely.

1. Workplace Preparation

Whether you solder on a workbench or site-soldering, for example, fixing a vehicle or doing electric repairs, workplace preparation is crucial to prevent accidents.
Messy soldering work table
I’ve been doing both types of soldering, and I can assure you that when you work in a well-prepared area with the proper accessories, everything flows and becomes less stressful. Even when I’m soldering laid down on a car, the more prepared I am, the better it goes.

No matter where you will be working, always ensure to do it in a properly ventilated area and use an extractor when needed to prevent inhaling the fumes caused by soldering.

Workbench Soldering Preparation

While soldering at a workbench is ideal, it’s important to take some precautions and preparation to prevent accidents, work comfortably, and achieve the best results. Use a comfortable chair, preferably with height regulation, to protect your back, especially if you frequently work on extended soldering sessions.

  1. Keep the Area Clean and Clear: Working in a clean and clear area is key for working comfortably and safely. Ensure to keep flammable products away.
  2. Procure Efficient Lighting: Ensure you have good lighting in your working area. An articulated light with a magnifying glass is a nice accessory that can be of great help.
  3. Check the Equipment: Before starting, check that all the equipment is operational, plugged in, and ready to work.
  4. Get Ready to Work: Gather your tools and equipment and use a soldering stand or vise to secure the parts in place while working so that you can have both hands free.

Soldering preparation

Site-Soldering Preparation:

When you do site-soldering, you are usually surrounded by objects that you don’t want to burn. Even a tiny drop of hot solder falling in the wrong place can damage something, so preparation is as essential as concentration.

Below, you will find a simple checklist for a great site-soldering preparation:

  1. Plan Ahead: Before starting, assess the workspace, consider what tools and accessories you will need, and think what’s the most comfortable and efficient way to do it.
  2. Procure Efficient Lighting: Proper illumination is key for working safely and efficiently, reducing the odds of errors and accidents. Make sure that the light source is fixed so that you can have your hands free. In cases when this is impossible, a good-quality LED headband light is a great option.
  3. Prepare Your Tools: Gather your tools and equipment in a handy and steady place.
  4. Ensure Heat Protection: When possible, use heat-resistant materials or mats to protect the surroundings of your working area. for example, if you are soldering inside a vehicle, use a thin metal sheet or a piece of cardboard to protect the carpet and floor mats.
  5. Use a High-Quality Extension Cord: Use a well-insulated extension cord that is long enough to provide you with freedom of movement. High-quality extension cords are pretty resistant to heat, which makes them less prone to getting their wires exposed in case of accidental burns.

2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Using protection adds extra safety since, no matter how careful you are, accidents can happen, and remember you are working with a power tool, extreme heat, electricity, and toxic materials.

Below, you will find a list of the PPE needed at the time of soldering:

  • Eye Protection: Wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from irritation caused by the solder’s fumes, “split” solder, hardened solder, and debris caused by clipping hardened solder, wires, and others.
  • Heat-Resistant Gloves: Use heat-resistant gloves to protect your hands from heat.
  • Adequate Clothing: Use clothes with long sleeves to protect your skin from burns, made of non-flammable or hard-to-ignite materials like cotton. Avoid using clothes made of synthetic fibers like nylon and lycra.

Wear PPE during soldering

Safety Procedures During Soldering

While soldering, it’s important to follow these guidelines:

  1. Never touch the soldering iron’s tip when hot, and keep your hands away from hot air when using a reworking station.
  2. Never hold the workpieces with your hands; use tweezers, a soldering vise, or clamps. If it’s extremely necessary to hold a piece using your hands, ensure to wear heat-resistant work and proceed with extreme precaution.
  3. Never leave the soldering iron on the floor, workbench, or anywhere apart from its stand. The same applies to hot air guns.
  4. Turn the soldering iron or hot air gun off when unused. Some soldering stations and reworking stations have an “automatic power off” function, but for your safety, don’t rely on it and turn the units off.
  5. Don’t eat or drink while soldering, and try not to touch your face or food before washing your hands.
  6. Use power outlets with a ground connection and ensure your devices have a grounding prong. Grounding helps prevent electrical shocks and helps the equipment’s safe operation. Also, it’s important to have a circuit breaker on the power line you are using for the solder and power tools in general. In most countries, having a circuit breaker is mandatory for home and industrial installation.
  7. When using pluggable soldering irons, make sure not to melt the wire’s insulation, and unplug it carefully if you notice that you might have touched it with the soldering iron’s tip.
  8. Have a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit at hand.

Post-Soldering Safety

After soldering, it’s important to remember that the soldering iron’s tip reaches high temperatures and remains extremely hot.

When working with soldering stations or at a workbench, just place the soldering iron in its support to cool down. When working on-site, place it such a way that the tip is not touching, and allow it to cool down before touching it or storing the soldering iron.

Always wash your hands thoroughly after soldering to remove any residue of toxic substances, like lead, rosin, or flux.

Also, it’s a good practice to inspect the tools frequently. This will ensure that the equipment will remain safe and be ready for the next time you use it.

Besides, it’s important to dispose of the waste safely and responsibly. Be aware of your local regulations for hazardous or toxic waste disposal (lead-based solder, its residues, flux, contaminated rags, and other elements are dangerous for human health and the environment) and dispose of it accordingly.

Handling Accidents

In case of an accident, such as an accidental burn, remain calm and seek medical attention promptly if required, especially for deep burns or those covering a large area of skin.

Regardless of whether you need assistance, run the affected area under cold water for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Then, protect the injury with a band-aid or furacin gauze, a special gauze used for burns.


Soldering is an effective technique, and by following this guide, you will minimize its risks to the minimum and work more relaxed and comfortable.

Remember not to take anything for granted, and take care. Besides, remember to dispose of the residues resulting from your work responsibly to care for the environment and others. Prevention prevents injuries, fires, and worse, and it takes almost no time when you take it as a habit.

Stay safe and enjoy your soldering projects!