Brand new Weller brand soldering iron tip turns black, what could it be?

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by 8BitSpirit, Jan 27, 2016.

  1. 8BitSpirit

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 20, 2016
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    I'm new to soldering and when I bought a cheap 5 dollar iron on ebay I quickly realized all irons are not created equally. I shelled out 45 bucks on Amazon for a Weller soldering station. I was impressed with the performance at first and found myself soldering like a pro but quickly (in the first use) I noticed that the tip only holds a tin shiny for the first 4 or 5 minutes (or less) after which the tip turns dull/green/black/grey burnt uglyness.

    I clean the tip on a wet sponge and again I tin the tip. Both the solder an the tip become burnt even quicker. It always seems like the sponge makes it worse.. The only way to make another good solder is to turn off the iron, let it cool, and start over. Then the cycle repeats! It's really P$#22ing me off to be honest because I can't figure out what I'm doing differently than everyone else. I've watched the tutorials, I shelled out the cash for a good iron, it's brand new, WHAT IS THE DEAL!?

    -I bought a copper sponge, that only seemed to make it worse.
    -I reduced the heat and the tip still burns the solder immediately.
    -I bought 2 types of solder, makes no difference.
    -I'm not using flux (because it hasn't arrived in the mail yet) so I'm sure that isn't an issue.

    Please let me know if you have any suggestions. Thank you!
     
  2. SLK001

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2011
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    What types of solder are you using? Make SURE that you only use ROSIN CORE. Your iron should be set to approx 700°F. Your sponge should be DAMP, not WET.

    Sometimes I have to use a brass brush to clean the black crap off my tip. It is usually after I do something like melt away plastic, or dig out some potting material. Maybe your tip just needs to be cleaned with a brush.

    Some amount of discoloration is expected if the iron sits at temp for a while. A quick swipe on you sponge should remove this ugliness and produce a shiny tip once again.
     
  3. Lestraveled

    Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
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    Yea, it sounds it is your solder and lack of flux. +1 on the rosin core solder, I prefer 60/40, lead/tin, (kester #44). The lead free stuff is crap, oh, I mean, difficult for a beginner to use.:D

    Describe the solder you have.
     
  4. 8BitSpirit

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 20, 2016
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    I'm using alphafry 60/40 rosin core, as suggested to me. I also have Rosin Core, Lead Free, Silver Bearing solder by Benzomatic. I prefer the alphafry because it is just slightly softer. As for the brass brush, I have one here and I'm going to give that a try because I just realized that it's brass not copper that I should be using to clean the tip. Although this issue has been happening since before I started using the copper sponge... smh

    Do you think the type of water on the wet sponge matters? I use tap water, but someone said distilled water is a must... any truth?
     
  5. Lestraveled

    Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
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    The Alpha Fry 60/40 is good solder. It should not cause what you describe.

    Did you buy your station new or used? What model Weller is it??
     
  6. SLK001

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2011
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    What is a "copper sponge"?

    My sponge is a natural sponge that I moisten with tap water. I have never used anything but tap water!

    I HATE the lead-free solder.
     
  7. crutschow

    Expert

    Mar 14, 2008
    12,977
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    A dampened cellulose sponge is all you should need to clean the solder tip and then add just enough solder to tin the tip.
    All tips will get discolored in time when hot. They need to be cleaned and tinned before every solder joint.
    That's what they did for NASA class soldering where I used to work
     
  8. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2014
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    Any metal sponge will work to clean the tip.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. crutschow

    Expert

    Mar 14, 2008
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    Such a metal sponge will scrape off any protective coating that may be on the tip to prevent erosion of the tip by the solder. :eek:
    I would not recommend using one.
     
  10. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2014
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    I use steel wool to clean the tip never noticed any damage.
     
  11. Colin55

    Member

    Aug 27, 2015
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    This station is a poor design. It does not control the temperature.
    700 degrees F is far too hot.
    I don't go above 340 degree C.
    Get a $12 temperature controlled iron from eBay and use a metal sponge.

    MOD NOTE: Edited to eliminate the profanity.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 27, 2016
  12. Lestraveled

    Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
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    - What station is poor design?? Where are you coming from??
    - 340C = 644F, (700F is fine)

    Soldering is not a mystical art. There is a simple reason that @8BitSpirit is having a problem. Contribute to a solution, not to a problem.

    MOD NOTE: Edited to eliminate the profanity.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 27, 2016
  13. Colin55

    Member

    Aug 27, 2015
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    • There is no need for personal insults.
    I explained clearly what the problem is. Aren't you savvy enough to read my reply and understand it.
     
  14. SLK001

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2011
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    I use Hakko 926 soldering stations. The 700°F is measured at the thermocouple - the tip is cooler. I'll often set the temp to 800°F for solder removal.

    When I was designing airborne RADAR equipment, I was solder certified to MIL-Q-9858 standards. No metal sponges were allowed.
     
  15. 8BitSpirit

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 20, 2016
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    It says "SPG 40" on it. I bought it brand new, not used. It's basically like it's cooking the solder. I wash the tip on the wet sponge, go to tin it and the solder almost beads up and immediately starts turning black. I've tried adjusting the temperature but it just doesn't seem to help. If I turn down the heat it's not hot enough to do the job and still turns black anyway.

    So basically when I'm soldering I have to turn the damn thing completely off and let it cool before I start over. It holds a tin for a short time and then that tin becomes congealed and not shiny so I wash it and this repeats the cycle. I have to turn it off before it will give me a shiny tin again. I can't win for losing, I swear.
     
  16. Colin55

    Member

    Aug 27, 2015
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    It could be the rosin/resin in the solder. Try another type of solder.
    Use a metal sponge as it does not poison the tip.
     
  17. Lestraveled

    Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
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    @8BitSpirit
    This iron should not be doing this. I have a cheaper 40 Watt Weller that I keep in my RV tool box. Yes, if I leave it on too long, it gets too hot. But it does not self destruct.

    Most of us use a wet sponge. It does not poison the tip.
     
  18. Colin55

    Member

    Aug 27, 2015
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    You may not have eutectic solder. It makes a HUGE difference.
     
  19. Lestraveled

    Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
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    @8BitSpirit
    It sounds like the coating has been burned off of the tip. This generally happens when the an iron has been too hot, for too long. The iron might be bad. The tip might be bad. If you bought it locally, bring it back to the seller. A new tip will cost you about $4, if you want to trouble shoot.
     
  20. Lestraveled

    Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
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    The TS said he is using Alpha Fry 60/40 rosin core solder. Alpha Metals is a world class manufacturer of solder.
     
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