There’s copper everywhere in your home from wires to plumbing fixtures, so learning to solder it for yourself is essential for any survival skill collector. Sadly, not all solder is the same. From rosin core to leaded solder, you need to know what you should, and conversely, what you shouldn’t use on your copper pipes. Since these often carry potable water, you need to be especially careful to read the packaging. Fortunately, there are plenty of safe soldering options for those copper pipes.
To avoid getting lead in your drinking and bathing water, you need to use the right type of solder. What works well on wires will not function the same for emergency pipe fixes. Luckily, I can help walk you through what to look for and why. Plus, I’ll recommend the five best solders to use so you can make those repairs quickly and easily.
All You Need to Solder Copper Pipes
To fix those copper pipes yourself when SHTF, you will need the right solder and some skill at doing this type of job. Additionally, you’ll also need the right type of torch. While you could probably make do with a regular soldering iron, it’s best to use a torch for this type of fix.
Using a torch has the advantage of speed as well as accuracy. Because you can work faster, you waste less time, and you can get those pipes patched up or replaced in a jiffy. Every emergency preparedness pro and DIYer needs a good torch in their tool kit for this sort of job.
A good butane torch is versatile. It should have some weight, but not so much it fatigues your hands unnecessarily. Moreover, you should always be able to control the gas flow for better detail work. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting solder or even burning holes in pipes instead of fixing them. Avoid all that stress by getting a high-quality adjustable torch to go with your solder.
How to Properly Solder Copper Pipe
With a little practice and the right solder, you can make quick work of those copper pipes. However, I strongly recommend practicing on loose pieces that aren’t attached to your home or anything crucial before trying to tackle a vital pipe soldering job such as fixing your plumbing during an emergency. The step-by-step guide below will walk you through the process.
- Cut your pipes to the right size. Always measure twice before you cut anything.
- Apply your flux and fit the pipes together.
- Using a small flame almost the width of the pipe, heat the copper.
- Make sure your torch and solder are both at safe angles. You never want your hands in the way if you heat too much solder, and it drips.
- Touch your solder to the pipe on the opposite side from where you’re heating with the torch to ascertain whether it’s heated up enough to melt. Do not put the solder into the flame directly.
- Once the heat is right, and your pipe is hot, the solder will flow into the seam and should do most of the job for you.
- Let the metal cool down, and your pipe should be ready for use.
Like many survival and DIY skills, learning to solder copper pipe isn’t complex. The art is more about practice than learning anything complicated, so take your time and learn to do it right. That way, you’ll have a reliable skill you can fall back on if you ever need it.
Top Five Best Solders for Copper Pipe
Picking the best solder for your copper pipes can seem confusing and overcomplicated at first. However, once you know what you need, namely a lead-free pipe soldering compound rated for use on copper, then you’ll find things get less frustrating. To make it even simpler, I’ve compiled this quick list of the top five best solders to use on copper pipes. You’ll find plenty of safe and straightforward options here for your next practice or project.
1. Silva Brite 100 Solder
Silva Brite 100 Solder is meant for plumbing jobs. While that’s not the only place you may use copper pipes, it does mean this solder is safe for potable water pipes. If you’ve ever worked with a cheap knockoff solder, then you’ll instantly see the difference when you use this durable and well-made solder on your next project.
Silva Brite 100 is the go-to solution for repairs and simple fixes on bad joins to leaky joints. However, it can also handle tough rebuilds. Plus, you’ll appreciate how easily this solder flows compared to other brands.
If you’re looking for the solder found in professional toolboxes, then this is the brand you want. Well respected and trusted, this solder is a 95.6% Tin, 4% Copper, and 0.4% Silver blend with no antimony. Take home the top pick by clicking here.
2. Worthington 85325 Sterling Lead-Free Solder
A pound of Worthington 85325 Sterling Lead-Free Solder from Amazon will keep you in repairs for a long time. This rolled solder is made for plumbing and pipe work. The three mm thick solder is heavy duty and can fill large seams quickly.
With a maximum melting point of four hundred and ten, Worthington won’t need as much heat as some brands, so you save on torch fuel in the long run. Furthermore, it’s a fifty-fifty, lead-free solder that meets ASTM B-32 specifications. This solder is also is certified to ANSI/NSF Standard 61 and meets all the standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
At a tensile strength of 7130 PSI, this is the strongest solder on our list. You’ll appreciate how well it flows without melting too easily, and you can also use it for soft soldering projects like jewelry. See the superb Amazon reviews right here.
3. Shark Industries Lead-Free Solder
As a tin and antimony alloy Shark Industries Lead-Free Solder from Amazon offers a 95/5 blend of tin and antimony. Likewise, it complies with all state and federal laws regarding lead in water pipes. You can safely weld potable waterlines with Shark.
This one eighth inch solder is tough, with a tensile strength of six thousand. Furthermore, it’s made specifically for non-electrical applications like plumbing repair, which is excellent for most household use. Plus, you’ll appreciate how well it holds up in high vibration environments.
Shark has been producing solder and other supplies for decades. Since 1983, this company has provided aftermarket products geared toward technicians and other professionals. Get your high-quality Shark Solder when you click here.
4. Oatey 22004 95/5 Wire, 0.117-Inch
You can solder a lot of pipes with a half-pound of Oatey 22004 95/5 Wire, 0.117-Inch Solder. This well known and widely used brand is safe for use on copper. Moreover, this solder meets the Safe Drinking Water Act requirements and can be used to fix plumbing.
Oatey is great if you live in extremely hot or cold climates. Additionally, you can use this solder on pipes that are subject to a lot of vibration. The versatility and durability make this the number one solder on our list.
Oatey is an alloy of ninety-five percent tin and five percent antimony with a melting range of 450°F – 464°F. This easy yo melt solder forms easily to your pipe seams and allows you to get a good bond quickly. Have a spool delivered to your door when you order from Amazon here.
5. Oatey Silver Lead-Free Wire Solder
Oatey Silver Lead-Free Wire Solder made this versatile company the only one to land on our list twice. Like its other solder, this product meets the Safe Drinking Water Act requirements and is made to fix plumbing. This formula is also safe for potable water lines and won’t leech dangerous chemicals.
The formula is a little different from this option. As a copper, bismuth, tin, and silver alloy, it is more complex, but still affords you the same outstanding flow and durable sealant qualities. Plus, this Oatey solder meets ASTM Standard B-32. Choose this for sweating or brazing copper, brass, or stainless steel plumbing.
When used with a proper flux and Oatey 31321 open mesh 180 grit abrasive cloth, this solder holds up well in heat and cold. Moreover, it can handle vibration as well. Learn more about Oatey when you click here.
As survival skills go, learning to solder your own copper pipes is both simple and vital. Every do-it-yourselfer should know this trick to repair water lines when SHTF. Make sure you always double-check the packaging to make sure your solder is rated for use on copper.
While you can opt for a safety shield or flame retardant dropcloth, the best safety is learning to solder pipes mess-free. Always start soldering your copper pipe on the opposite side from the flame, and heat from the bottom. If you must work on a side angle, expect it to take a little more effort and solder, but not much.
By letting the solder do the job, it’s made for you can avoid excess drips and ugly results very easily. Still, it’s essential to watch your fingers and keep an eye on the angles.