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How to Clean, Tin, and Maintain Soldering Iron

What is a soldering iron?


A soldering iron is a hand tool used for soldering. It consists of a heated metal tip and an insulated handle.


1. Burning the tip of the soldering iron empty will make it hot enough to oxidize quickly, and it will become dirty or contaminated just by placing it on the iron stand. The oxidation will then act as an insulator, not conducive to heat transfer while your project is working.

When the tip is covered with oxide and charred flux residue, its ability to transfer heat is greatly reduced. Not only can heat not transfer through these chips, but contamination can also prevent the solder from wetting or sticking to the tip. Most of the heat is transferred through the fluid solder "thermal bridge" that sits between the tip and the component, so a tip that repels the solder will be very ineffective.

The longer the oxide and carbonized flux residues on the iron tip, the harder they are to remove, so it's a good idea to clean the tip every time you use the iron.

2. Cleaning Options

Wiping the tip of the soldering iron with a damp sponge will help remove oxide more easily and let the waste fall off. It is also possible to use a dry cleaner (special brass wool). It consists of soft metal shavings coated with flux. You can clean the tip by pushing the iron into the shave a few times. By avoiding the thermal shock of contact with a damp sponge, these cleaners help prolong tip life and, in my opinion, can do it better and faster. But both are better than not cleaning tips at all.

3. Regular cleaning = easier soldering and longer tip life:

After cleaning the tip, apply flux-cored solder to the tip to give it a fresh coat of solder.

Repeat this step every few minutes before and after starting, applying a small amount of fresh solder to the tip. Usually contacting the tip with rosin-cored solder will provide enough flux so that the oxide can be removed with a wet sponge or dry cleaner.

4. To maintain the performance of any soldering iron tip, a simple maintenance procedure is recommended:

at the lowest possible temperature (800°F (427°C) or lower operating at temperature. Operation at temperatures above 850°F significantly increases the formation of iron oxides, which is one of the main reasons for tin removal.

Wipe the tip: use dry cleaner brass wool or just use a (sulfur-free) pure cellulose sponge damp.

Periodically add enough diameter (0.032 inches, 0.80 mm or more) of rosin core solder to the working end of the soldering iron tip.


Learn more about >>> How to maintain and clean soldering iron tip



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