Soldering 101

Written by
Polly Nobbs-LaRue
Published on
October 27, 2021 2:53:03 PM PDT October 27, 2021 2:53:03 PM PDTth, October 27, 2021 2:53:03 PM PDT

Soldering (usually pronounced soddering) is the method of joining metal parts together, using another metal that has a lower melting temperature than the parts being joined.


  • Solder is the portion that melts at a lower temperature. 
  • Flux is a substance that cleans the metal surfaces to create a stronger bond and help prevent oxidation. 
  • Most -- but not all! -- soft solders  and  hard solders require the use of flux.

For details about soft solder vs. hard solder, and which types of flux, torches, soldering irons, etc. work with each type of solder, see below. Rings & Things carries a full line of soldering supplies for both hard solder and soft solder.


Warning: If you use soft solder on sterling silver jewelry, you will not be able to use hard solder on it afterwards. When you heat sterling + soft solder to the flow point of hard solder, the soft solder alloys with the sterling silver and your jewelry melts into a puddle.


What is Soft Solder?

"Soft" solder is a tin-based solder. Because it melts at a low temperature, you can apply soft solder with an electric soldering iron or gun. You might also be able to carefully use a torch with soft solder (it depends on the application). Even though jewelry soft solders are similar to rosin-core tin/lead solders used for electronics and acid-core tin/lead solders used for plumbing, you should not substitute these other solders for jewelry solder.

Use soft solder to create custom base-metal jewelry, fuse base-metal components, repair costume jewelry, and solder shut base-metal jump rings. Brass, copper, and bronze components can also be fused together using hard solders (see below).

Warning: If you use a tin-based soft solder on a piece of sterling silver jewelry, you will never be able to use a torch or hard solders on it. When you heat silver with soft (tin) solder on it, the tin and silver combine and become a very low-temperature melting alloy. Your piece can be destroyed under heat as the metal melts away from the soft solder patch.

We carry the following soft solders and compatible flux:
Choice™ Soft Solder   Lead-free soft solder. Flux needs to be purchased separately.
SILVERGLEEM Soft Solder   Lead-free soft solder with a rich, luxurious finish. Instant freeze properties can reduce the chance of lumpy solder beads. Great for decorative soldering and stained glass work. Flux needs to be purchased separately.
Flux for Soft Soldering   Choose from Harris Stay-Clean flux and Novacan Stained Glass Flux. Shipping Alert: This flux can only be shipped via UPS Ground, and only to the USA.

Making Jewelry with Soft Solder

Here are just a few examples of how soft solder can expand your jewelry-making options. Click images below for how-to tips, parts lists, and products!

"Pleasant Dream" Barrette
Use soft solder instead of glue to attach base-metal focals to barrette backs and other base-metal findings.
"Puppy Love" Pin
Soft solder can bring together mixed metals and mixed media when hard solder would require too hot a temperature.
"Poppy Field" Necklace
Soft solder is used to create custom frame pendants sandwiched in glass slides.
PDF: "How to Solder Glass Pendants"

What is Hard Solder?

"Hard" solders are alloys that melt at slightly lower temperatures than the corresponding metal pieces to be fused. Silver and gold jewelry require hard soldering. Copper, brass, and bronze components can also be fused with hard solders. In addition to requiring flux, hard solders generally also require the use of pickling solutions to clean and remove surface oxidation from the finished piece.

Silver hard solders work for assembling silver jewelry and can also be used to fuse brass and/or copper (as long as you don't mind the joints being a different color). Gold solders are generally used only for making gold jewelry while copper, brass, and bronze solders are typically used to make copper, brass, and bronze jewelry respectively. Metal workers typically use oxy/propane or oxy/acetylene torches with hard solder, but many soldering tasks can also be achieved with butane torches. Use a butane torch to solder jump rings, create ball-end head pins, make custom wire links and chain, create small bezels, fuse together small metal components, etc.

Confusion sometimes arises because the lowest-temperature "hard" solder is sometimes called "soft" solder. A better term might be "easy" for the lowest temperature hard solder. Hard solder typically comes in "easy," "medium" and "hard" grades. To create a complex piece, start with hard solder, then fuse the next elements with medium solder. Add the last parts with easy solder. This way, the solder holding the first elements will not flow or move while subsequent parts are assembled.

We carry the following hard solders, compatible flux, and pickle:
Silver Solder Variety Pack   Contains cadmium-free sheets of easy, medium and hard grade silver solder. Each grade melts at a different temperature. Use to solder complex pieces with many joints. For use with sterling silver, Argentium® sterling silver and fine silver.
Hard Grade Silver Solder   Cadmium-free sheet solder. Melts at 1365° F (741° C). Excellent for the first stage of soldering a complex piece with many joints. For use with sterling silver, Argentium® sterling silver and fine silver.
Medium Grade Silver Solder   Cadmium-free solder, available in your choice of sheet or wire. Both forms melt at 1275° F (691° C). Excellent for the middle stage of soldering a complex piece with many joints. For use with sterling silver, Argentium® sterling silver and fine silver.
Easy Grade Silver Solder   Cadmium-free solder, available in your choice of sheet or wire. Both forms melt at 1240° F (671° C). Excellent for the final stage of soldering a complex piece with many joints. For use with sterling silver, Argentium® sterling silver and fine silver.
Copper Solder 18-gauge copper wire for soldering copper. The presence of phosphorous makes this wire solder self fluxing. Melts at 1310° F and flows at 1460° F.
Brass Solder   Cadmium-free 20-gauge brass wire for hard soldering. Melts at 1200° F and flows at 1330° F. Offers an improved color match for yellow brass designs.
Bronze Solder   Cadmium-free 20-gauge bronze wire for hard soldering. Melts at 1250° F and flows at 1410° F. Provides an excellent color match for bronze designs.
Flux for Hard Soldering   Choose from self-pickling flux for easier soldering of precious metals (under 2000° F), Firescoff™ Ceramic Flux Spray (for silver, gold, brass, bronze, copper and more), and Magic "Flame" 4-in-1 soldering compound (can use up to 2000° F on precious and non-precious metals).
Pickle for Hard Soldering   Choose from self-pickling flux for easier soldering of precious metals (under 2000° F) and Sparex® No. 2 granular dry acid compound. We also carry a Little Dipper® pot that's perfect for pickling.

Making Jewelry with Hard Solder

Click images below for how-to tips, parts lists, and products to make these designs.







"Kraken" Mixed-Metals Belt Buckle
Medium-grade solder joins the brass cut-out to the copper oval. Easy-grade solder joins the copper oval to the belt buckle.

"Fold Formed" Earrings
Use medium-grade solder to join custom fold-formed 22-gauge sterling silver sheet to custom 20ga fine silver ear wires.

"Captured Aventurine" Bracelet
Self-fluxing copper hard solder makes it easy to create custom copper chains and other connections.