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How to maintain and clean soldering iron tip

The reject of soldering iron tip is a common culprit for most soldering problems. Most of these are caused by extensive oxidation on the surface of the iron tip. A bad soldering iron tip cannot effectively transfer heat to the connection point, affecting the product to be soldered.

How to maintain and clean soldering iron tip

1. Lower the temperature of the soldering iron tip


If you find that you are burning your tips at lightning speed, you may have to check the temperature. Using high temperatures can rapidly oxidize your tips, especially if they have not been cleaned for a long time. Flux oxide builds up, starts smoking, and turns the tip black instead of shiny silver.


We recommend that you set your soldering iron to the lowest temperature possible while still functioning properly. Sometimes using a slightly higher temperature can make soldering faster and more efficient. However, if you're just starting out, it's best to start low so you have less chance of damaging components. Typically, a temperature around 608°F (320°C) is a good starting point. You can then adjust lower or higher depending on the size and type of components you are soldering.


2. Wet the soldering iron tip with a wet sponge


Wet sponge is the most commonly used cleaning method for tips. This is a standard question for almost every soldering station.

cost effective

Efficient Cleaning Flux Acid

Sponge can be cleaned for prolonging service life

Instantly reduces the temperature of the soldering iron tip

Thermal shock of water can shorten the service life of tips


How to use a sponge to clean the tip of a soldering iron

A. Take a spray bottle filled with water and wet the entire sponge, but don't drown. Too much water will affect cleaning effect and the service life of tip, and insufficient 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 soldering tip 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, it means that the soldering tip isn't hot enough or the sponge isn't wet enough.

D. From the top of one side to the bottom of the other, drag the wide part of the tip diagonally across the sponge.

Keeping the same grip on the tip, turn it half a turn, then drag the sponge in the opposite direction to clean the other side of the iron tip.

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


3. Maintain the tip with a ground brass coil

How to maintain and clean soldering iron tip

This waterless cleaning method uses a soft brass coil to quickly remove solder from the tip without reducing the temperature.

Quite cheap

No risk of thermal shock to the soldering tip

Indentation in the shell where the soldering tip is placed

Not clean as water

Although soft, abrasiveness can still shorten the service life of tip.


How to Clean with Brass Coils

Insert the tip of the soldering iron directly into the brass coil and push back and forth.

When solder and flux buildup and begin to interfere with cleaning, flip the coil over and use the clean side for prolonging the service life.


How to Use Tin Blocks to Clean Soldering Iron Tips Safely


Heat the soldering tip to about 350°C.

Once the soldering iron tip is hot, wipe the brass coil a few times to remove any excess solder that may be on it.

For best results, use a sharp tool to dig a hole in the ammonia stick, forming a small pile of powder in the hole.

Mix the powder with some solder in the hole. You can do this by transferring a small amount of solder through the tip of the soldering iron or by cutting a small piece of solder and placing it in the hole in the ammonia stick block.

Stir the contents of the hole with a hot soldering iron tip.

Remember, this is poisonous. Do not breathe the fumes!

Wipe the soldering tip with a wet sponge or brass coil.

Push the solder/salted ammonia into the side of the hole with the soldering tip (think of it as the same action as mixing the butterscotch and butter together).

Repeat until the tip is completely retinned and become silver. Now, never let the tip turn any color other than silver again!

Remember to tin the tip with fresh solder after each use. Do not use water-soluble flux, as this will corrode the tip at high temperatures.

As with all welding products, it is strongly recommended that you use this product in a well-ventilated area or with a durable fume absorber.


4. Regular tin plating can prevent oxidation of the soldering iron tip

How to maintain and clean soldering iron tip

Cleaning a heavily oxidized tip isn't impossible, but it's certainly not easy or enjoyable either. Getting into the habit of re-tinning regularly will go a long way in preventing it from oxidizing. Melting a dollop of solder onto the tip before putting it away also eliminates the risk of oxidation over time.


Summary of soldering skills:

A. For beginners and most solderers, we recommend keeping the tip clean and tinned frequently.

B. When soldering, try to keep the temperature of the soldering station at the standard minimum temperature.

C. Be sure to keep the top of the soldering iron tip clean before soldering to avoid untinning due to impurities during the soldering process.

D. The material to be soldered must be cleaned in advance before soldering so as to remove the impurities on it. 

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