Becoming proficient in soldering using either copper, brass, or silver is important in plumbing, jewelry making, craft projects, circuit boards and many other precision assembly projects. It can be difficult knowing what materials and techniques to use, but with a few adjustments, soldering between these materials can become second nature.
Copper is the easiest metal to solder with because, after it is heated and melts into the solder, the bond it creates is incredibly strong. Brass may be the second simplest metal for soldering, so binding the two metals shouldn’t be too daunting. The reason most people would want to solder using these two metals is for pipe fitting projects – soldering a brass valve onto a copper pipe. The most common solder for brass to copper soldering is a half lead, half tin solder.
To solder brass to copper, cut the copper pipe to size and clean the inner ridge of the cut copper. Clean the copper with an emery cloth until shiny. Coat both ends of the pipe with tinning flux. Put the valve onto the copper pipe ends and push them together. While torching, wrap the soldering wire around the seam between the pipe joint and valve. Slowly move around the pipe seam, then allow to cool. This type of soldering might require more heat than a copper to copper solder because the brass can be difficult and resistant to the solder.
Silver is the most difficult metal to work with, but combining brass and silver into a project can be quite beautiful. The bronze color of the brass complements the lightness of the silver. After a few attempts and adjustments, soldering these two metals will no longer be the frustrating experience you may have anticipated. The key is to have the optimal equipment and solder on hand.
To solder silver and brass, place both pieces of metal into a warm pickling solution. Pickling solution is used to clean metal before and after solder because the acid in the liquid removes impurities. This helps the metals look their best and helps the soldering process go more smoothly. Keep the metal in the warm solution for a little under ten minutes, then dry.
Solder paste is the best choice for this project. Choose one that is for non-ferrous metals – those that don’t contain iron – such as brass or silver. The solder paste should also contain a flux agent, which will help the solder flow more easily. Apply the paste where needed with a brush or syringe. Heat until the solder melts into the correct spots while using the tip of the iron to drag the solder along the joint where needed. Allow to cool, and then re-steep in the pickling solution for around five minutes.
Combining copper and silver is mostly done for aesthetics as well. Many jewelers and crafters believe that these metals together look striking and timeless. Make sure to keep ordering in mind when attempting this type of project. Copper melts at a higher temperature than silver, so it is easier to solder silver to copper than vice versa. Doing this the other way around may cause the silver to get too hot causing the copper to sink into it.
Like above, make sure to pickle your metals so they are clean and easy to work with. Then, flux the copper and dry it under the flame. Using extra easy solder can give you more room to adjust and go slowly. Follow the guidelines for brass and silver, but make sure to watch your heat. If the silver starts to look soft, pull back.