In metallurgy, a flux (derived from Latin fluxus meaning “flow”) is a chemical cleaning agent, flowing agent, or purifying agent. Fluxes may have more than one function at a time. They are used in both extractive metallurgy and metal joining.
Some of the earliest known fluxes were carbonate of soda, potash, charcoal, coke, borax, lime, lead sulfide and certain minerals containing phosphorus. Iron ore was also used as a flux in the smelting of copper. These agents served various functions, the simplest being a reducing agent which prevented oxides from forming on the surface of the molten metal, while others absorbed impurities into the slag which could be scraped off the molten metal. As cleaning agents, fluxes facilitate soldering, brazing, and welding by removing oxidation from the metals to be joined. Common fluxes are: ammonium chloride or rosin for soldering tin; hydrochloric acid and zinc chloride for soldering galvanized iron (and other zinc surfaces); and borax for brazing, braze-welding ferrous metals, and forge welding.