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Brian Dougherty

risks associated with sal ammoniac

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My flux bucket, which is just a 50-cal ammo can, is down to the dregs of big crystallized lumps.  While I am trying to wean myself off of flux, I am not quite there yet so I need to refill it.

I decided that I might as well try the anhydrous borax rather than mule team because the bubbling up of the flux means half of it just ends up on the forge floor not doing any good.  Since I had to order the anhydrous borax, I went ahead and ordered some boric acid, iron oxide and sal ammoniac as these are additives I commonly see referenced in flux recipes.

I don't know anything about sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride).  Admittedly, nothing that is used as a flux is particularly healthy to be around when it is at 2200F, but are there any particular concerns about this one?  It sounds like the benefit is that it flows over the surface at a lower temperature than borax so it reduces the oxidation that happens  before the borax flows.  What is the downside?

I'm sure it will come up, so no, I am not adding calcium fluoride to the mix.  I know enough about hydrofluoric acid the stay away from that one.

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I know JPH adds sal ammoniac to his flux mix, but I figured it would have vaporized by the time it got to welding heat given it is most common as a flux for soft solder and tinning.  You will love the anhydrous borax, though.  It is worlds better than 20-mule team as far as messiness goes.  I was never convinced of the iron oxide, since that is what we're trying to prevent with flux to begin with.  And finally, since I have good ventilation I have tried adding fluorspar.  Didn't seem to make much difference with what I was welding at the time, but it fluxed the coal so well I was getting the biggest, glassiest clinkers ever seen.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Alan,  I don't understand the iron oxide either, but while I was ordering stuff, I figured I'd give it a try.

I pretty much only play with 15N20 and 1095 which are easy to weld.  I'm excited for the anhydrous so all my flux doesn't come off in the fire anymore, but the additives will have to do something amazing in order for me to tell the difference.

Edited by Brian Dougherty

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