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Solder is a metal alloy with a low melting point that is melted onto 2 metallic items and allowed to re-harden. A tool called a soldering iron is used to provide heat to the process. Some solder contains lead, while some does not. Most solder also contains flux (not to be confused with the capacitor of the same name), which helps reduce oxidation and allowing the solder to flow more easily and other such technical stuff. Basically it's good. International, as well as some local laws, are beginning to prohibit the sale of consumer products with lead in them, so while you can still buy lead solder (even here at SparkFun) all our boards are made with lead-free solder (still a bad idea to ingest or insert under your skin). Here are the steps that we use to solder a component:
Your weapon - the soldering iron!
A blob of oxidized solder. No good!
How you want the tip to look!
And now a quick example video...
What is the purpose of soldering?
a. Playing with fire
b. Connecting two pieces of metal both physically and electrically
c. Wiping your soldering iron on a wet sponge
d. Making your circuit heat proof
Officially the answer is 'b' but for some people it is 'a' as well, although if you are getting flames you might be doing something wrong.
How should your sponge be prepared?
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