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How to clean soldering iron tips

1.What is a soldering iron?


Soldering iron is a hand tool used for soldering. It consists of a heated metal tip and an insulated handle. It provides heat to melt the solder so that it can flow into the joint between two workpieces, resulting in a physical bond with a component, a component to a circuit board, or a component to a wire.


soldering iron


2. How to clean a dirty soldering tip?


Wiping the tip of the soldering iron back and forth on a damp sponge will help remove oxide more easily and will wipe away any waste from the tip of the soldering iron. Dry cleaning implements (special brass wire) can also be used. It consists of soft metal shavings coated with flux. You can clean the tip of the soldering iron by inserting the iron back and forth into this metal filing several times. The thermal shock of the tip when it comes in contact with the wet sponge ,this way can be avoided with this type of cleaning tool, helping to prolong the life of the tip, which in my opinion is as clean as it is efficient. Better than wet sponges. But no matter which cleaning tool you use, it is better than no cleaning.

After cleaning, apply flux solder to the tip of the iron to create a new coating of solder on the surface.



A. What can remove the oxidation of the soldering iron tips?

Oxidation is a direct result of the iron plating of the tip becoming iron oxide, and when this happens, the tip loses its ability to wetting. This makes the solder balls on the tip instead of flowing smoothly.


B. How to Clean an Oxidized Soldering Iron Tip?

①Set the temperature of the soldering iron between 250 °C and 300 °C (typical working range)

② Apply flux-cored solder to the oxidized tip. Once the flux is activated, it begins a chemical reaction that removes the oxidation.

③Clean the tip with brass wool or automatic tip cleaner

④ Repeat the above steps until the tip is visibly clean

⑤ If the tip is still not clean after this process, please continue to the next step.


C. How to Get Rid of Severely Oxidized Soldering Iron Tips?

A heavily oxidized tip requires more than flux to restore its wetting ability. Tip canning or chemical paste will get the job done.Grinding tools such as sandpaper are not recommended, as they can damage the plating of the tip. Use Tinner to remove severe oxidation as the following steps:

a.As with mild oxidation, the temperature of the soldering iron needs to be set between 250 °C and 300 °C

b.Once the typical operating range temperature is reached, push the tip of the soldering iron into the tin can, making sure it covers the entire tip of the soldering iron.

c.Wait until the tinned product melts around the tip, then clean it with brass wool or any other tip cleaner

d. Repeat the above steps until the tip is clean; all oxidation has been removed


D. How to prevent oxidation?

a. Always apply fresh solder with a generous core of flux to the tip of the soldering iron before storing it away

b.Clean the tip of the soldering iron regularly with a damp sponge or wire cleaner

c. Make sure the soldering iron is set to the proper temperature for the type of solder and application. Overheating can cause oxidation on the tip, shortening its lifespan

d.You don't need to clean the black flux residue on the tip of the soldering iron as it will not affect the soldering performance at all


3. Why is my soldering tip turning black?


High temperatures cause the metal surface to oxidize and therefore appear black.

a.Usually the soldering iron is the main body of the seat, such as iron and copper, and nickel plating is performed on the soldering head. One is to prevent oxidation, and the other is to better dip tin, which is convenient for welding.

b.When the soldering iron is used for a long time or is not properly maintained, the nickel-plated layer from the soldering head will come off, or even corrode in severe cases, exposing the main body of iron and copper underneath, which will turn black after oxidation. At this time, it is difficult for the soldering iron tip to be tinned again, resulting in difficult soldering. Therefore, after each soldering, tin the tip of the soldering iron and add an extra layer of tin to prevent the soldering iron from contacting with the air, thereby preventing oxidation.



4. Can you clean a soldering tip with wire?


First steel is usually a harder metal than the plating on the tip of the soldering iron. So while coarse steel wool might clean the tip, it also destroys the plating quickly, therefore, it should only be used in "emergency situations" or cheap tips that you're willing to replace as soon as possible.


Arguably a suitable metal sponge is made of a softer material such as brass. They really should be brass, not some kind of copper plating on the steel core like you might get at a dollar/kitchen store.

But even with soft materials, abrasion matters -- something like a cellulose sponge will eventually wear down the tip. So it will be hot with solder and flux on it too.

Tips are wear items. The less they are "cleaned", the less time they sit hot and the longer they last. But cleaning is of course necessary, especially for modern fine pitch soldering.

Most modern professional soldering stations have high-powered heaters and very tight control loops, so they can quickly go into low-temperature tip-saving mode when idle and reheat and be ready for work as soon as the operator picks up the iron from the stand.


5. How to clean the soldering tip without flux?


How to clean with a warm sponge

a. Take a spray bottle filled with water and wet the entire sponge, but don't drown. Too much water will affect cleaning and tip life, and not enough water will leave burn marks.

b.To check this, push down on the center of the sponge with your finger, if you get a pool of water, it's too wet.

c. Try cleaning the iron by dragging it through the sponge twice to clean all sides of the tip. You should hear "Pssh" letting you know it's clean. If you don't hear this, the iron isn't hot enough or the sponge isn't wet enough.

d. Pro tip: When you have too much solder on your iron tip or you want to simply remove the excess, you can flick it into a sponge for quick removal. Be careful with molten solder and wear safety gear.

The above is how to clean the the soldering iron tips. If you still have any questions, please consult us and hope that we can help you in soldering.


Related learning>>> The 6 kinds of soldering iron tip specifications


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