Nancy LT Hamilton
Materials for a Fume/Soldering Ventilation System with Ideas and Links for an Optional Particulate Ventilation System
Why Do I Need Ventilation?
Regarding fume ventilation: Ventilation of fumes and particulate matter is essential for all jewelers and anyone whose work/art creates fumes. Enameling, glass bead making, electronics, jewelry making, metalsmiths, goldsmiths, metalworkers, blacksmiths, etc. all create fumes that need to be vented and drawn away from your precious lungs.
Regarding particulate ventilation: the products used in finishing, as well as the process of finishing itself, produce very fine particles of dust. These particles are the most dangerous and can damage your health permanently. I like to say that the smaller the particle, the deeper it goes. The effects of inhaling these particulates are often not seen for years. Some byproducts of finishing can be a threat to not only you but, to the environment, to your family, and to your pets. So, please, take care of yourself and create wisely and safely. Please!
Note to people using soldering irons: You need ventilation too! Please check out the following links and don’t forget to check out the MSDS for the products you use. They are easily (sometimes) found either at the supplier’s website or at the manufacturer’s website (They need to be found here, at least. It’s nice when the suppliers also have an MSDS). Both the solder AND the flux (even if it is odorless) have chemicals in them that you DO NOT WANT IN YOUR BODY. The easiest way for these little devils to invade your pristine internal organs is through fumes. So, get a fume ventilation system or go sit in the yard and solder. (Not when it is raining or snowing though – don’t want you getting electrocuted!).
***The following companies and their products are not being singled out as dangerous. They were randomly chosen to represent a sampling of the different fluxes and solders that are available. Please find and read the MSDS for the flux and/or solder that you use. (Wow, what a nag – Nancy has already harped on this TWICE already!) Learn what chemicals are present in your materials and the associated health risks of these chemicals. Keep those lungs pink and perky!
Information on Silica
- MSDS Link – Jewelry Brazing Flux made by Superior Flux
- MSDS Link – Nokorode Regular Paste Flux made by RectorSeal
- MSDS Link – SSWS100 – 96/4 Solder Wire & Flux Kit – made by Bernzomatic a Worthington Industries Company at Tool Depot.
- MSDS Link- 50/50 Leaded Solder, made by Bernzomatic a Worthington Industries Company, available at Grainger.
Thanks, Scraps at YouTube for bringing the soldering iron, its solder, and fluxes to my attention!
My New Soldering Area Fume Ventilation System
The system, described below, can be used over your soldering area, under your soldering area, next to your soldering area, behind your soldering area, etc. Venting can be done through a window, through a wall, or through the ceiling. In the case of a ceiling-mounted system, place the hood behind your soldering area so that the fumes don’t flow by your face first!
The instructions below are for the fume ventilation system that I created for my jewelry soldering area. You can build this setup for about $124 (plus shipping and tax – if applicable). A lot cheaper than a kitchen hood. This fan is 340 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute). Please see my video on the Fume Ventilation System (to be released soon).
CFM is the amount of air that is exchanged in a minute. For comparison think how many cubic feet your room is: Length X Width X Height = Cubic Feet. A 10′ long by 10′ wide by 8′ high room would be 800 CF. So, with the 340 CFM fan, almost half the air in the room will be exchanged in a minute. The higher the CFM number, the more air that is exchanged. You also want a fan with enough pull to drag the fumes away from you – without having to have the fan right on top of you. A hood helps to focus the suction and helps to keep the fumes within the vicinity of the fan. A hood doesn’t guarantee that all the fumes are directly under it. Just like in the kitchen, if you can smell it, it ain’t going out!
Suggested Items to Purchase
- VenTech IF6B 6″ Inline Duct Fan 440 CFM – I chose this one because it comes with a stand. Approx. US dollars: 68.00
- Active Air ACSC Duct Fan Speed Adjuster – any other type will do. Approx. US dollars: 22.00
- Deflecto A068/4 6-Inch Diameter by 8-Feet Semi-Rigid Flexible Aluminum Duct or you can use either 4” or 6” dryer hose. If using 4”, a 4” to 6” adaptor will be needed – if you are using the duct fan above. There are 4″ duct fans available. Approx. US dollars: 10.00
- (2) Hose Clamps (9” or more in diameter) or Zip Ties to hold ducting to the fan and wall cap. US dollars: 3 – 5
- Wall Cap for venting ducting to the outside wall or window – any type will do – you need some type of screening for the outside vent otherwise, the rats and mice will be charging through the house – en masse! Also, if venting to the roof you will need a roof vent and someone who knows what they are doing to install it! Otherwise, it’s rats and rain. US dollars: 18 – 25 – without labor. (Wish I had a three-year-old to blame this drawing on)
- When venting out a window, purchase a piece of clear acrylic and have it cut to accommodate the diameter of the ducting. Leave a few inches surrounding the hole for strength. The length should be sufficient to entirely fill the open window area. Cut a 6” (or 4”) hole in the plastic and run your ducting out the hole. You can use silicone around the edge where the hole and the ducting meet, spray-in insulation like Touch ‘n Foam, or duct tape. You can also use the wall cap in this situation and the flange (see below). You might want to not vent at face level – if your window is on a sidewalk. See the artistically executed illustration below (ahem).
Here’s a real-life example from Peterm @ Shopsmith Forums. Nice work Peterm! Mine probably wouldn’t be so pretty and neat!!!
- Duct Tape – This is to tape the ducting to the fan and the wall cap – fewer chances of fumes escaping from your system.
- 4” – 6” Reducer – if you have a 6” fan with a 4” hose
- Dust Collection Hood – Can be placed behind or under the soldering area. US dollars: about 16
- Millard 6″ Ducting Flange – To create a more finished look on interior walls, ceiling, or windows.
- Wire Mesh. As shown: Activ-Wire Mesh.
Instructions for Putting the Fume Ventilation Setup Together
- Assemble all necessary parts (duh!) I started by putting the parts of the fan together (see #2 below – might be easier to cut the mesh first). You’ll need a Phillips head screwdriver and something to help hold up the fan while you screw the screws in (you’ll see what I mean). Husbands/wives and trainable children are handy for this task, as is a chunk of wood or, as I used, a ceramic block. Not a comparison. Not!
- Create a screen for the front of the fan. Keeps out cattails (why are they up there anyway?), fingers, and long hair (that should be tied back anyway). Discourages flying metal from being sucked into your yard. You can use craft mesh or metal window screening. It might be best to use metal as it is near your soldering area – as opposed to plastic or nylon. It is recommended to keep flammable materials away from the soldering area. Trace the front circular area of the fan with a Sharpie and cut out the shape with scissors. You could do this before putting the stand together – probably easier.
- Cut strips of duct tape to attach mesh or just wrap a piece around the mesh and the protruding front piece. I like to use a scalpel to cut duct tape. Using scissors can drive you mad.
- Stretch out your hose/ducting so that it reaches your outside ventilation area AND the place where the fan will be placed. Might as well flare the end as well. This helps it to fit onto the male receptacle without too much swearing.
- Wrangle the ducting onto the back (the part that sticks out and looks like a tube) and pull it close to the fan i.e.: a snug fit. Cut off a few pieces of duct tape and tape all the way around the ducting and the fan.
6. Create outside ventilation area: window, wall or ceiling. Put in wall cap, window cap or roof vent. Attach ducting with hose clamps or zip ties and duct tape to vent. I would also do whatever is recommended by your roofer/assistant/partner – especially for wall and ceiling venting. For a more finished look, use a flange on the interior wall, ceiling or window. See Peterm’s example above.
8. Make fumes!
When venting particulates you must have a way to contain the particles. This keeps the particulate matter from getting into the environment- see below. There is also the option of wearing an N100 Particulate mask that filters out 99.97% of respirable particles. The fit of the mask is very important. There should be no leakage. Fit the metal band around your nose so that no mist forms on your glasses. Breathing is a little more difficult with a mask on and if worn all day can cause fatigue. Read the instructions that come with your mask.
Steel Hood with Hose from Rio Grande
Please read the following article – especially if collecting in the house. About Filtration.
Here’s a little chart to ponder from OSHA:
To filter out the most damaging particles of dust a “certified HEPA filter” is required. The most damaging particulates are the smallest and the ones that usually escape most filtration systems. Many shop vacs offer Certified Hepa Filtration. Here are a few: Vacmaster, Dustless Technologies, Rigid. A system like Rockler Dust Right Wall Mount (from the reviews I’ve read, the hose is not the best. You could replace it with a clear PVC hose) could be mounted on a protected (from the elements) exterior wall. It is recommended that the dust is collected either beneath the area where you are generating the dust or behind. The important thing to remember is to not have the dust go by your face first.
Jewelry suppliers also have dust collection systems like this Handler Porta Vac Dust Collector at Esslinger. Rio Grande, Otto Frei, FDJTool, Gesswein, Esslinger, and many others offer dust collection systems – they aren’t cheap but, how much does loss of work, early death, chronic lung disease, and a slew of other health issues for you AND your family cost?
Here are some videos and websites that may inspire your dust collection dreams:
- Reviack’s: Oneida Dust Deputy, the D.I.Y. Air System
- Instructables: Mini Cyclone Bucket Dust Collector
- I Like to Make Stuff: How to Make a Dust Collector with a Wet/Dry Vac
- Carol Minnich: DIY Dust Collector (I’d put the Vac outside (protected from the elements) and add an on/off switch inside)
With the woodworking references, don’t forget: you can go small-scale on the buckets as jewelers don’t generate anywhere near as much dust as woodworkers.
Some of the pricier exhaust systems from jewelry suppliers have filters that can be sent in for refining. If you are working with gold, platinum, etc., or a ton of silver, it could be worth your while to capture that metal dust and refine it. For most small-scale jewelers though, safety and dust removal are of the most concern.
Don’t forget: copper and copper-bearing dust (brass, bronze) are deadly to many forms of life. It shouldn’t be anywhere near water. So, unless it never rains at your home, you should have a contained collection system for the dust and contact local authorities on how to dispose of it. The amount of dust made by a jeweler is minimal compared with the woodworking industry but, it can be dangerous!
You could use something like this bag for dust collection. It’s a replacement bag for the Dura-BULL Direct Flow Polishing System but, you can just duct tape it to the end of your ducting – which is away from you – preferably outside and stick it in a bucket. I’m not 100% sure how well the Dura-Bull bag would work for this system but, in theory, it should.
For Further Safety Research
- 3M’s Respirators and Surgical Masks: A Comparison
- Canadian Care Center for Occupational Health and Safety – How Do Particulates Enter the Respiratory System?
- Engineering ToolBox – Particle Sizes – Sizes of an airborne particle as dust, pollen bacteria, virus and many more
Metallurgical Dust 0.1 – 1000 Metallurgical Fumes 0.1 – 1000
- US Department of Labor’s Dust Control Handbook
“Q: How long can a particulate respirator be used before it must be discarded?
A: Respirators with replaceable filters are reusable, and a respirator classified as disposable may be reused by the same worker as long as it functions properly. All filters must be replaced whenever they are damaged, soiled, or causing noticeably increased breathing resistance (e.g., causing discomfort to the wearer). Before each use, the outside of the filter material should be inspected. If the filter material is physically damaged or soiled, the filter should be changed (in the case of respirators with replaceable filters) or the respirator discarded (in the case of disposable respirators). Always follow the respirator filter manufacturer’s service-time-limit recommendations.”
Q: If employees have a beard or mustache, is their respirator still effective?
A: Tight-fitting facepiece respirators must not be worn by employees who have facial hair that comes between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the face or that interferes with valve function. Respirators that do not rely on a tight face seal, such as hoods or helmets, may be used by bearded individuals.
***Always observe all safety instructions. I am not responsible for any loss of life, limb or injury to your home, office, studio, body or anything else that you can think of.
This is merely an example of a system that I am using. Check local regulations and requirements for venting toxic gases and particulate matter. This system is not designed for working with hazardous chemicals or agents. You are responsible for obtaining the necessary state, federal and local compliance information and for following all safety precautions and directions.
Now go have fun!