How to Solder & Weld Aluminum Beer Cans
Aluminum cans can be welded with low temperature torches, such as propane torches, creating strong welded joints, which are often more stable than the parent material and harder than steel. Surprisingly, no flux is required to form the bond, although you will need to use a nickel rod to develop a good sealing material. Additionally, the whole process is nontoxic to humans and better for the environment if you make use of advanced technologies in the field.
Secure two empty aluminum beer cans in a bench vise so their bases are adjacent to one another. Bases weld together better than other parts of the can. Align the cans exactly, using a tape measure to check the distance between them and a spirit level to ensure they are horizontal.
Use 3 feet of flexible hosing to connect the propane torch to the gas tank, as described by Radio Control FAQ. Switch it on. Heat the two surfaces you wish to weld using the torch flame. Aim to heat them until they glow, then stop, as this means they are prepared correctly. If you heat them too long, they will melt.
Place a nickel welding rod (equivalent of traditional solder) between the cans. Hold the rod in place using one hand or a second, small vise raised up above the other vise. Bring the two cans together slightly by adjusting the bench vise tightening bolts. You may need to ask for assistance to do this correctly.
Weld the cans together by melting the welding rod against the edges of the cans. Use the heat from the cans to help melt the rod into place, because the cans will still retain much of their heat from earlier, when you used the torch flame on them. Push the tip of the rod into the joint as if drawing with it like a pencil. Bend the rod around to match the position of the bases of the cans as you go along. Work slowly and carefully to use up as much of the nickel material from the rod as possible between the two cans.
Tighten the bench vise so the cans are held firmly together. Allow the weld surface to cool for about 15 minutes. You can test it using a thermometer if time is important. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, touch temperature is below 45 degrees Celsius.
- Practice soldering and welding aluminum cans before moving on to more challenging jobs like repairing car mufflers.
- Welding torches are dangerous because they can cause burns. Wear protective gloves and goggles during use.
Natasha Parks has been a professional writer since 2001 with work published online and in book format for "Thomson Reuters," the "World Patents Index" and thomson.com. Her areas of expertise are varied and include physics, biology, genetics and computing, mental health, relationships, family crises and career development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biophysics from King's College, London.