Plumbers use a lot of different methods to join metal together. These include welding, soldering, and brazing. Soldering and brazing are by far the most commonly used methods of metal binding by plumbers; however, each is used for a different reason. Find out the key differences between soldering and brazing, what they are used for, and how to tell them apart.

What Is Soldering Used for?

Soldering joins metals like iron, brass, copper, silver, or gold. They use a filler metal called solder, which melts quickly and flows into the joints between the metals. The solder cools very rapidly and seals so that there isn’t any leakage. Once upon a time, solder was made of lead, but lead poisoning led to a stop in production. Now other melted metals, such as tin, zinc, copper, silver, and others, are used. Soldering is often utilized in electronics for wiring and circuitry as well as in plumbing applications.

Guy soldering board

What Is Brazing Used for?

Brazing is similar to soldering in that it uses a filler metal to join two pieces of metal, such as copper, gold, silver, nickel, or aluminum. The filler metal melts then flows between and over joints, sealing them together. High heat is needed to create this strong joint. Like soldering, a flux material wets and cleans the joint, encouraging the filler to flow. Besides plumbing, brazing is often used in the automotive industry because it creates a stronger joint than soldering.

Man brazing

What Differentiates the Two?

If soldering and brazing sound similar, that’s because they are. Both use filler metal to fuse two pieces of metal and flux to clean joints. The big difference between the two is the temperatures used to achieve the joint. In brazing, you’re looking at temperatures higher than 842 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperatures used to create the binding are lower than that temperature, it’s soldering.

Again, brazing creates a much stronger joint. In fact, the shear strength of brazing can exceed soldering by up to five times. This also means that the high heat required in brazing can damage small or electronic components, which is why soldering is preferred in those jobs.

Can You Tell the Difference?

At a glance, it can be difficult to tell the difference between brazing and soldering. Many people, even professionals, use “soldering” as a blanket term for both. To identify which is which, you need to determine the kinds of metal joined and the type used as a filler. If the filler requires high heat like silver, you’re looking at brazing. Fun fact! The term “silver solder” actually refers to a brazing filler because it requires high temperatures to melt.

Call Sin City Plumbing

Need more help with brazing or soldering in Vegas? We can help! Contact Sin City Plumbing and get your plumbing work done today.

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