Soldering Iron Care

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Lectraplayer, Apr 1, 2015.

  1. Lectraplayer

    Thread Starter Member

    Jan 2, 2015
    77
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    I have been using my Radioshack soldering iron with 60/40 rosin core, and though I have been keeping a big wad of solder on my iron when I'm not actually flowing solder, I'm gettlng major oxidation and can't keep the crud away with my wet sponge or steel wool. What can I do to correct for this?
     
  2. DickCappels

    Moderator

    Aug 21, 2008
    2,659
    632
    If your soldering tip is clad with a metal that is not prone to oxidation (chrome, iron, etc.) the problem might be that the cladding has worn away at the tip. Erosion will continue until you replace the tip. Some manufacturers warn to not use water on iron clad tips and they often caution against wiping because that can cause some coatings to wear off.

    If your soldering tip is copper, and you are keeping it tinned with solder, then you might want to lower the power a little bit (I use a triac light dimmer on my soldering iron even though it has a clad tip) and only have the iron on when you need to have it on.
     
  3. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    A photo would help.
     
  4. Dodgydave

    Distinguished Member

    Jun 22, 2012
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    if its a copper tip without a coating, it will burn away constantly, if its a tinned copper bit , keep a small amount ot solder on the tip when not in use, and lower the temperature with a light dimmer or half wave diode.
     
  5. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
    4,771
    971
    Distilled water only if using a sponge..
    Do NOT use steel wool.. Too abrasive..

    When done.. Clean tip, turn off power, apply solder to it on both sides.

    Radio shack = crap ...so thats more than likely the problem though that and the tip plating is probably already gone..
    Pencil irons without temperature control are garbage too.. Too hot and oxides form very quickly..
     
  6. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    I asked for a photo because I've never seen, "major oxidation" on a soldering tool. Perhaps because I only buy Weller brand. If that is true, the solution is to buy good quality soldering irons and bypass the need to learn care and feeding of miserable quality tools.
     
  7. alfacliff

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2013
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    use a light dimmer to control the temprature, it wont corrode as fast at lower temprature.
     
  8. OBW0549

    Well-Known Member

    Mar 2, 2015
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    I think the best thing you can do to maintain your sanity while working with electronics is invest in a good quality temperature-controlled soldering iron. It doesn't have to be one of the premium digital models; analog temperature control is just fine. I've been using a Weller EC1002 (predecessor to the WES51), and love it. I do quite a lot of soldering and am still using the original set of tips I got with the unit years ago. The temperature can be set at anywhere from 350F to 850F and with a 42 watt heating element, the unit heats up very quickly when I need it to.

    When I finish soldering one batch of joints and it's going to be some minutes before I begin the next batch, I just back off the temperature to 450F or so and let the iron idle. I've had no corrosion problems.
     
  9. Lectraplayer

    Thread Starter Member

    Jan 2, 2015
    77
    5
    My Weller gas iron is doing the same. I also have another gas iron that too is oxidised. Those, especially, I call myself babying, but I'm obviously doing something wrong.

    My instructors at ITT Tech preached against the wet sponge. Most liked steel wool, but one swears the finger is best, partly stemming from him having frostbite. I can do that as well if I'm fast, but still prefer other tip cleaners such as steel wool and the wet sponge.
     
  10. MikeA

    Member

    Jan 20, 2013
    125
    17
    I'm not an instructor at ITT but I just lick off the oxidation. The flux is nice and salty.
     
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  11. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
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    The biggest problem I've had with any iron is the buildup of carbonised deposits where the removable tip fits into the iron. In many cases trying to get the bit out for replacement can wreck the iron.

    Occasional removal and cleaning is a good maintennance plan, a tips column in one magazine suggests ammonia - but I'm guessing you don't want any of that to soak into the element.
     
  12. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    And my instructors at ITT Tech were still teaching the, "All American 5 Tube Radio".
     
  13. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
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    I used iron clad tips in industry for many years, and always with a wet sponge.

    The only problem I ever had with that, was if I cleaned the tip too well and didn't use it again straight away the iron plating would oxidise, that meant using some kind of abrasive before I could tin it again.

    It didn't take long to learn to re-tin the tip immediately after cleaning it on the sponge.
     
  14. dl324

    Distinguished Member

    Mar 30, 2015
    3,250
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    I think that's BS. I've used my Weller soldering iron with the same tip for almost 40 years and I've always used a wet sponge. I'm still on the original sponge too. I don't solder as much as I used to, but it's seen a large number of hours of use.

    BR
    Dennis
     
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