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From: email@example.com (Rich Grise)
Subject: Re: Washing PCB's after soldering...with what?
Date: 20 Nov 2002 19:47:43 -0800
NNTP-Posting-Date: 21 Nov 2002 03:47:44 GMT
"PCS Electronics" wrote in message news:...
> We're hand-soldering (small series) our PCBs and are
> wondering what would be the best chemical for washing
> the boards afterwards.
> We've tried Acetone and Ethanol, the first is way too strong as
> it melts the caps and other plastic, the second (Ethanol - alcohol)
> leaves the PCB looking very dry and ugly with white powder
> where the soldering paste used to be.
> Does anyone here have experience with this kind of stuff?
> Best regards,
> Marko - PCS Electronics
Denatured alcohol, although isopropanol is safer. What's needed
is an old-school thing called "elbow grease." Get some brushes
called "acid brush(es)" - McMaster-Carr has them at about three
times the hardware store price - and cut back the bristles to
about half the length of toothbrush bristles.
This comes under the umbrella of 'TANSTAAFL' - There Ain't No
Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Ordinary soap and water will clean
the board. Try liquid Windex. (I haven't tried that myself, but
have always had good luck with isopropyl or denatured ethyl
alcohol - straight ethyl alcohol is MUCH too valuable as a
IOW, just about any cleaning solution should work, but you
do need to use a stiff brush. Actually, the stiffest toothbrush
you can get at the store should be fairly effective, with
soapy water and/or alcohol (they needn't be mixed - just one
or the other), and elbow grease.
Stay away from aggressive solvents, because, as you've
observed, they attack plastic components. If you're using
real live electronic-type solder, the flux should be washable
with ordinary washing stuff. If your flux is so tenacious that
you need solvents, then you need to find a different solder
The white crud that you mention is just the residue left when
the volatiles in the rosin get carried away - For a comparison,
would you wash your back in the shower by just letting the
water out of the showerhead just splash off your back and
run down the drain? Of course not! So maybe your answer is
to use a brush and whatever you're using now. Last Millennium,
I worked at a game repair place, and one of the substances
we used on PCBs that had had beer and coke and gawdknowswhat
spilled on them was [drumroll please] club soda! (which in
Minnesota is referred to as "charged water.") Carbonic acid.
NaHCO3 + H2O.
(if you want to email me, please modify the header email -
change "richardgrise" to "richgrise" - the header thing
has become basically a spam dump. Thanks!)
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