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soldering to nichrome wire

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by John Popelish, Nov 10, 2006.

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  1. Nichrome used for heating is usually welded, not soldered,
    because the operating temperature is usually above solder
    melting point. However, if the solder joint is well heat
    sunk by the copper side of the joint, you might be able to
    use a high melting temperature solder.

    Once the nichrome has been red hot for some time, it forms a
    very tough oxide coating that makes either welding or
    soldering very difficult unless the oxide is removed.

    I would try cleaning one surface with very fine silicon
    carbide sand paper (600 grit or finer) and silver solder
    with silver solder flux. This will require the heat of a
    butane or propane torch. If you don't require the
    temperature capability of silver solder, you can tin the
    nichrome with it, and then use low temperature tin lead
    solder to attach that surface to copper.
  2. Joe

    Joe Guest

    I am trying to solder copper wire (tinned) to nichrome ribbon (more like
    wire, but wider), which I took from an old toaster. The nichrome ribbon
    doesn't seem to like the solder. Is there a trick to this? Or should I be
    doing something to the nichrome before I try to solder it? On the toaster I
    dismantled, I noticed it was soldered to some thick copper conductors, so I
    didn't think it would be a problem. I even crimped the ends of both, hooked
    them together, and soldered them. After a time I picked up the connection
    and it fell apart. Any advice or help is appreciated.

  3. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    Silver solder it.
    you'll need a mini torch or a very hot iron!
  4. You can't. Crimped or bolted connections are the way to go.
  5. Joe

    Joe Guest

    John, Jamie, Homer,

    Thank you all for the ideas. I should have realized that nichrome gets hot
    when current runs thru it and would probly melt the solder anyway.

    Well, I have several ideas now, so I can proceed. Thank you all very much
    for the suggestions.

  6. Arlet

    Arlet Guest

    I read that you can solder nichrome by using hydrochloric acid as a
    flux. Never tried it myself though. Be sure to wear goggles, if you
    want to try.
  7. Never seen it used. Spot welding, crimping or bolting are the only methods I
    have ever seen. I assume the OP can't use spot welding.
  8. john jardine

    john jardine Guest

    Nichrome, steel, piano wire, plated washers, bowden cabling etc, (i.e just
    about anything except Aluminium) is easy to solder using an 'active' flux.
    In UK it's bought as 'Bakers fluid' or 'killed spirits'.Basically
    Hydrochloric acid that has spent itself while corroding zinc. Cheap and
    effective but acidic, so needs a good washing off after use.
  9. Kurt Krueger

    Kurt Krueger Guest

    In the states it's just called Zinc-Chloride. Usually sold in a paste
  10. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Is that the same stuff in sunscreen? And/or Desenex? ;-)

  11. John Fields

    John Fields Guest

  12. Joe

    Joe Guest

    Right you are, I never spot welded anything. And Hydrochloric acid (sold
    around here as muriatic acid 30% solution) I wouldn't take a chance with. I
    don't like playing with acids or stuff that is tooo dangerous (at least
    IMHO). I am just using alligator clips. Cheap, easy, safe, simple.
  13. I've used acid flux but you really need to clean carefully after using it. I
    wouldn't use HCL.
  14. Joe wrote:
    Go to the plumbing section of your local hardware store or
    Home Depot and look for plumbers flux (essentially Vaseline
    and zinc chloride). A little solvent like paint thinner or
    naptha is handy to remove the greasy residue after
    soldering. This will make most soft solders stick to lots
    of metals.

    But I use a fluoride based slurry flux for silver soldering.
    Much more aggressive at cleaning stainless steel (which is
    basically what nichrome is).
  15. Arlet

    Arlet Guest

    Multicore has a couple of types of solder wire with aggressive fluxes,
    also available through Farnell. Their "Arax acid" is claimed to be
    suitable for brass, bronze, iron, spring steel and resistance wire.
    They also have an "AluSol" product for aluminium, but they say it
    solders virtually all metals, including stainless steel.

    Make sure you clean the flux residue really well.
  16. kell

    kell Guest

    Every heard of Ruby Fluid?
    I know a guy who uses that for soldering badges on antique Harley gas
  17. Nope.
  18. John Popelish wrote in part:
    I have tried all kinds of things and gotten nichrome really clean, and
    usually 60/40 solder will still not wet it. But I have a trick that does
    work: Wet the metal with braze (get a torch and a brazing rod). You can
    grind or file down any blobs in the braze if you end up with an any.
    60/40 solder easily sticks to braze. If silver solder sticks (instead of
    using braze), then 60/40 should stick to that.

    - Don Klipstein ()
  19. kell

    kell Guest


    "Easy to use zinc chloride solution flux for any soldering job;
    plumbing, electronics,
    brazing, etc. Absolutely necessary when soldering nichrome wire - paste
    won't do the job!"

    Disclaimer -- I've never used this stuff.

  20. Very corrosive, and hard to remove from the joint when you are
    finished. It was used to solder copper gutters and pipe together.

    Service to my country? Been there, Done that, and I've got my DD214 to
    prove it.
    Member of DAV #85.

    Michael A. Terrell
    Central Florida
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