Tools for Soldering Copper Pipe

Make Sure You Have the Right Equipment

Solder copper pipe
OwenPrice / Getty Images

When doing a plumbing project involving soldering copper pipe preparation pays for itself. To help you get ready here is a list of tools you’ll need when soldering copper pipe.

  • 01 of 08

    Torch

    MAPP Torch

     Windell Oskay//Flickr

    The torch needed for soldering copper can be propane or MAPP gas (methylacetylene-propadiene propane). MAPP gas comes in a yellow tank and propane comes in a blue tank. MAPP gas, usually a bit more expensive, gets much hotter than propane, so heats the pipe faster. Propane works fine, it just takes longer -- which may work to your advantage if you are new to soldering copper and are working on 3/4" or 1/2" pipe. The choice of a torch is really up to you.

  • 02 of 08

    Solder

    Roll of solder
    Oatey

    There is more than one type of solder available so make sure to buy plumbing solder. Check that the solder is all right for soldering copper plumbing pipes and that it is safe for drinking water.

  • 03 of 08

    Flux

    Oatey Flux
    Oatey

    This is an acid which makes the solder flow into pipe joints. Without a good flux, the solder will not flow right and it is more likely that you will end up with leaks. I have been able to solder with most of the fluxes available at home improvement stores so I know they work but there are some I prefer more than others. If you find one that is working well for you stick with it since not all fluxes are created equal.

    Once again make sure that the flux you purchase is safe for drinking water if that is what the pipes are for.

  • 04 of 08

    Striker

    Bernzomatic spark lighter
    Bernzomatic

    The striker is used to create a spark to start the torch with. Some torches have auto strikers built in so, in that case, a striker would be unnecessary. For safety reasons it is always a good idea to use a striker, not an open flame, to light a torch.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Copper Pipe Cutters

    Pipe cutter

    Tommy Halvarsson//WikiMedia Commons 

    Using copper pipe cutters is an easy way to cut the necessary pipe lengths. The cutters leave a nice straight edge and they help to minimize burrs on the cut edge.

  • 06 of 08

    Sandcloth

    Sandcloth

    Walmart.com

    Making sure that the pipe and fittings are clean is probably one of the most important things to do before you begin soldering copper pipe. A good sandpaper cloth is necessary to clean the outside of the copper pipe. Sand both ends of the pipe to about 1/2 an inch beyond the fitting.

  • 07 of 08

    Fitting Brush

    Fitting brushes

    PlumbersCrib.com

    To clean the inside of the copper fittings use a fitting brush. The wire bristles can prime the inside of the fitting to make good contact with the pipe.

  • 08 of 08

    Safety Items

    Project Prep - Safety First

    Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel//U.S. Air Force 

    A fire cloth, a spray bottle with water, and a fire extinguisher are very important to have on hand when soldering copper pipe so that nothing catches on fire.

    • Fire cloth: a barrier that is fire retardant can be positioned behind whatever it is you are soldering so that the surrounding area does not catch fire.
    • Water: A spray bottle with water is a must. Wet down any area you will be soldering first and then use it as a backup if anything begins to smolder. Also wet the area back down when finished soldering since the residual heat can still catch fire.
    • Fire Extinguisher: Always have a fire extinguisher handy when soldering copper pipe just in case something catches fire and you cannot put it out with just a spray bottle of water.

    There are kits you can buy that have most of the basic soldering tools in them, which will often save some money so consider that option unless you are looking at buying specific items such as a better-than-average torch, more solder, or a specific flux.