Planning on renovating your bathroom and fixing some plumbing issues along the way? Then you are most likely going to need solder for soldering copper pipes. But before going to the hardware store for a solder to use in the renovations, there are several things to note.
First, not all solders are recommended for joining copper pipes. And since the copper pipes in your home carry drinking water some solders should never be used on copper pipes. So which solders should you consider and which should you avoid?
Below we have compiled a list of the best solder for copper pipe. Also, we have included a buying guide on what to consider when shopping for a solder for copper wires.
Top on the list is the Alpha Fry AM33945 Cookson Elect Flow-Temp Lead-Free Plumbing Solder. It has a 0.125 inch diameter meaning it is perfect for most plumbing pipes in homes. It can also be used on stainless steel parts as well.
At number two is the Oatey Silver Lead Free Wire Solder. This is the best for soldering portable water systems due to its diameter. It has a high melting point and can be used on brass and stainless steel as well.
Today’s Best Plumbing Solder
Reviews of The best solders for copper wires
Alpha Fry AM33945 Cookson Elect Flow-Temp Lead-Free Plumbing Solder
The Alpha Fry AM33945 Cookson solder is a 0.125-inch diameter lead-free solder that is suited for soldering copper pipes. It is a solid wire solder without flux. You can choose to use it with an appropriate flux or use it as it is, we recommend using a flux though.
It has a high melting point of 430 degrees Fahrenheit, which is another reason why it is great for copper plumbing pipes. Apart from copper though, its high melting point means you can use it on stainless steel connections as well.
What I liked
- It is lead free making it safe for use in plumbing pipes
- Has a high melting point and can be used on plumbing and stainless steel parts
- It is a solid wire without flux and you will have to get flux separately
Overall, if you want a solder for your copper pipes and that can also be used for other applications including connecting stainless steel parts, this is the solder for you.
Oatey Silver Lead Free Wire Solder
Oatey is known for producing great products including lead free solders. The brand’s silver lead free wire solder makes it a great option for soldering copper pipes. And as the name suggests it is a solid wire solder.
So if you plan on using flux you will have to get it separately. This solid wire solder has a high melting point of 460 Fahrenheit. As such it will be perfect for brazing copper, brass, and even stainless steel.
What I liked
- It has a high melting point making it ideal for copper, brass, and stainless steel parts
- It is lead free and meets the standard of the safe drinking water act
- It measures .117 inches in diameter which may be a bit small for some plumbing pipes
This Silver lead free wire solder will be your best bet if you have a project that entails brazing copper pipes on a portable water system.
Forney 38060 Solder LF Solid 1/8″, 4 oz.,Silver
Another one of the best lead free solder for plumbing is the Forner 38060 solder. As with any other solder meant for plumbing, it is lead free. It is made up of 95% tin and 5% antimony and is thus suited for non-electrical soldering tasks.
The main reason we included this on our list is how strong it gets when it cools. We recommend using it with MAPP gas. It is a solid core solder and has a high melting point of 464 Fahrenheit. And in terms of size, it measures 0.13 inches, a bit thinner for standard plumbing copper pipes.
What I liked
- Is lead-free and is safe to use in drinking water pipes
- Comes with a 90-day warranty against manufacturer defects
- With a 0.13 inch diameter, it is a bit thin for copper pipes measuring 1 inch
For portable water systems, this is one of the best lead free solder on the market. And it is what we would recommend for soldering connections in a portable water system.
Worthington 85325 Sterling Lead-Free Solder
The Worthington 85325 sterling lead-free solder is a bit different from the other solders on our list, but it is excellent for what it is designed for. Nonetheless, it is lead-free meaning it is safe to use for drinking water pipes.
But unlike some of the others on our list, it has a lower melting point of 410 Fahrenheit. This makes it an exceptional option for soft soldering. If you are soldering copper and brass pipes together, you will find this useful.
What I liked
- Has a lower melting point that is ideal for soft soldering
- Is lead free making it ideal for use in drinking water pipes
- Cannot be used in certain types of soldering due to its lower melting point
Sometimes a solder with a high melting point will be a disadvantage such as when soldering softer materials. For such applications, you will need something that will not burn the material. And that something is the Worthington 85325 sterling lead-free solder.
Solder – Silva-Brite
The Silva-Brite solder costs a little bit more than your average store bought solder. However, there is a good reason for the cost. Silvabrite is a reputed brand whose products are used by the pros.
But that is not the main reason to buy this solder. Firstly, this is made from a silver and tin alloy and has a .062 inch diameter. It is therefore quite thick, if you have ever used the traditional leaded solders you will see some similarities in how this solder flows.
What I liked
- It creates strong connections and works fast
- It flows and bonds well and can be used on stainless steel as well as copper
- It is rather pricey compared to the other option available
If you do not mind spending a little bit extra to get the same quality that the pros rely on, then this silvarbrite solder will be a no-brainer.
Canfield 85311 Flo Safe Lead-Free Solder
The Canfield 85311 Flo safe lead-free solder is another that may cost you a little bit more. However, its range of applications makes it worth it. Compared to other solders it is quite thick and has a higher melting point than most.
It has a temperature range of between 440 Fahrenheit and 590 Fahrenheit. This makes it ideal for plumbing and even industrial applications. It is made up of 97% tin and 3% copper. And as expected it is lead free.
What I liked
- Has a high-temperature range ideal for a wide array of applications
- It is lead-free making it suitable for use in drinking copper pipes
- It is rather pricey compared to other options
If you are looking for a lead-free solder that can handle more than your average solder, this Canfield solder will be your best option.
Oatey 29025 Safe-Flo Wire Solder
The Oatey 29025 safe-flo wire solder is made from an alloy of copper, bismuth, tin, and silver alloy. And while it is a solid wire solder it does require a flux. Nonetheless, it melts better than most cheaper alternatives.
It has a temperature range of 415 Fahrenheit to 455 Fahrenheit. Not as high as the Canfield but it is still high enough for most applications. It will be useful for joining copper pipes or brass fittings. However, it cannot be used on aluminum.
What I liked
- Melts and wets better than cheaper solders
- Has a wide temperature range for different applications
- Cannot be used on aluminum
This has one of the best temperature ranges. Thus if you want the right solder for copper pipes that will melt easily without burning the pipes, this will be an ideal option.
Best solder for copper wire buying guide
Solders vary based on the materials they are made from and the type of flux contained within them. When shopping for the best plumbing solder, it is important to consider these two. However, there are other things to consider as well.
Type of solder
For copper pipes used for drinking water, lead-free solders are recommended. This type of solder is made from an alloy material that does not contain lead. Typically this will be tin and another metal such as silver, zinc, gold, or copper.
When it comes to the flux material contained within the wire, you have three options, rosin-core, acid-core, and solid core. For copper wires, the best option will be either solid core or acid-core. Solid core wires do not have a flux material, which must be added separately.
Acid core on the other hand contains an acid-based flux, which is stronger than the rosin-core wire flux. The flux material is used to prevent the formation of metal oxides.
Solder melting point
For copper pipes, you need solder with a lower melting point. Ideally, you want a solder with a 95/5 tin content. This means it has 95% tin and 5% of other materials. A 50/50 solder is not recommended for copper pipes.
The solder diameter
Solder wires come in varying diameters ranging from 0.01 inches to .250 inches. The right solder diameter will depend on what you are soldering. The average plumbing copper pipe is 1 inch in diameter. And for the average plumbing copper pipe, a 0.125-inch diameter solder will be ideal.
The flux type
Which is better for copper wires, rosin-core, solid wire, or acid-core? For copper pipes, either a solid wire or an acid-core will be ideal. Rosin-core flux is suited for soldering electrical appliances.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should I heat the copper pipe for soldering?
Typically 5 to 10 seconds with a MAPP gas torch will be enough to feed solder into most ½ to ¾ inch copper pipes.
Which solder form is best for copper pipe?
A lead-free solid solder with a composition of 90/5 means 90% tin and 5% antimony, copper, silver, or another metal.
Do you have to use flux when soldering copper pipes?
Not necessarily, while you can solder copper pipes without flux, it is not recommended as doing so causes the copper to oxidize as it heats, which will prevent a good fit. Flux prevents the copper from oxidizing.
Why is the solder not sticking to the copper pipe?
This may be due to the copper pipe not being hot enough to melt the solder. It can also be because of dirt on the copper pipes. The pipes must be clean on both inside and out before soldering.
Can you use too much solder on the copper pipe?
It is possible to use excess solder on copper pipe, however, this is not advisable as the extra solder can puddle inside the pipe restricting water flow.
Can you use a soldering iron on copper pipe?
No, soldering a copper pipe will require more heat than a soldering iron is able to deliver. For soldering a copper pipe use a torch.
Can rosin core solder be used for plumbing?
It is not advisable to use rosin core solder for plumbing. The connection will not be strong enough to withstand the pressure over time.
Can you solder copper pipe with Mapp?
Yes, Mapp gas torches are recommended for copper pipes as they burn hotter and are thus better suited for lead-free solders that melt at a higher temperature.
Is acid core solder good for plumbing?
Yes, most solders used for plumbing that contains flux contains an acid core, while those used for electrical connections contain a resin-core flux.
Can you use 60/40 solder plumbing?
A 60/40 solder is not the best for copper pipes in plumbing.
Does plumbing solder go bad?
No, a properly done solder joint will last the lifetime of the copper piping.
Can you use electrical solder for plumbing?
No, the solder used in electrical connections has a lower melting point and will not create a strong joint when used for plumbing
Overall, the best solder for copper pipe should be lead free and be 90/50. This ensures it is safe to use in pipers used for drinking water. Also, the pipe needs to be at least .0125 inches in diameter if you are using it in your home’s plumbing.
The seven above can be used on portable water systems and in your home’s plumbing without any danger to your health.
Last update on 2023-02-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API