In a State of Flux

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By Shawna Kulpa

In a State of Flux

When you’re working on a last-minute project, there are few things more frustrating than getting ready to solder a joint and discovering that your bottle of flux has dried out. When a member of the Orchid e-mail forum was facing this problem, he turned to the forum for advice on how to make the flux soft and useable again.

The forum’s members were in agreement that the best way to rejuvenate dried out flux is by adding distilled water to it and stirring well. Some members offered additional tips based on their own bench practices.

"To keep my Handy Flux from drying out and to keep it clean, I always decant a tiny amount that I need for the next few days into a small glass jar that used to hold expensive eye cream," said Jo Haemer of Timothy Green Designs in Portland, Oregon. "But if the big jar gets dried out, I add water, stir well, seal it closed, and hold it in my sonic to mix it and break up the chunks. The sonic action returns it to a nice creamy consistency."

But what if you don’t have distilled water on hand? Shannon Dalton of Wickersham Jewelry in Kronenwetter, Wisconsin, recommends just using it dry. "I got sick of it bubbling and popping, waiting for it to dry before soldering," she said. "Leave it dry. Crush it into small pieces and use it liek that. Heat your pick and pick up the flux with it, putting it where you want it, just like solder. It will melt onto your seam. You probably firecoat with alcohol first anyway, so now you just localize where you want it."