Soldering Sponges

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by PDubya, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. PDubya

    Thread Starter Member

    Mar 16, 2006
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    Apologies if this is more obvious than I think it is, but is there some special sponge material that you use for your soldering iron? I can't imagine using synthetic due to the temperature, but figured I'd come to the source!

    Thanks!!!
     
  2. windoze killa

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 23, 2006
    605
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    Not sure of the material but most electronic shops (at least here in Oz) sell them. Most of the you moisten with water. Although some tip manufactures recommend a dry wipe as the cold water can cause thermal shock to the tip and the plating can come away. Personally I have not seen this happen but then again I was taught and used to teach the dry method. You can use a lint fee tissue to dry wipe the tip.
     
  3. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
    15,815
    282
    Hi,

    Natural sponges have an organic content that reeks when heated up to soldering iron. temperatures. Synthertic is the way to go. I've even used a wet folded paper towel for the purpose.

    I had never heard of thermal shock loostening the tip plating. I've got an old Weller WTCP station still going. In 24 years at a shop, I can recall changing the tip on this station perhaps three times.

    Still, if you want to be really safe, just flow on a bit of solder and snap the tip to fling off the excess. Makes interesting spots on the floor - not to be done over rugs. Never solder while wearing shorts!
     
  4. windoze killa

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 23, 2006
    605
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    mmmmm I can't see a problem soldering with shorts. it is the flicking of the hot moten solder that is a problem.
     
  5. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
    2,575
    719
    I use high quality paper napkins smply lying on the bench, Thick enough to sustain the "one pass" cleaning which I do exerting some pressure on them.

    Never considered the sponges!

    If I need to clean the iron which is very dirty for any reason, holding the napkin in one hand helps to clean it in just two seconds. Being thick enough, there is no time to burnt the napkin and your hand.
     
  6. Ron H

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 14, 2005
    7,050
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    You also need to think about where your feet are. Molten solder on your sock is hard on your sock, and worse yet, hard on your ankle. You can get solder off your skin really fast, but when it flows around the threads in your sock, you'll get a blister, guaranteed. This is the voice of experience. :eek:
     
  7. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
    15,815
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    Hi,

    Been there & have the tee shirt. Wait until you pick up a hot 40 W iron by the tip.

    If you use 14 ga building wire in place of the Weller tip in a gun, the current is high enough to launch a droplet of solder from an inch-log loop. Only for about six inches, but that's just enough to land somewhere tender.
     
  8. garygorsuch

    New Member

    Oct 18, 2004
    2
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    In the past I used old sponges which were used to wipe the sink. They tended to burn as they dried out.:mad:
    1. These days I just use saturated paper hand towel.
    2. I have recycled the sponge from the bottom of an inkjet printer. Just cut off the worst affected areas (rinsing the ink could be messy:eek: ), cut to size and saturate with water. They work well.:)
    ps I run 8 irons in a classroom situation.
     
  9. Søren

    Senior Member

    Sep 2, 2006
    472
    28
    Hi,

    Never, ever, saturate it, it will cool your tip.
    It only has to be moist to protect it from burns and degradation (use distilled or demineralized water to keep the tip in good shape).

    The type sold in every electronics shop around the world is NOT synthetic, it's a cellulose product.

    There are other types used dry though, one is made from silicone rubber and another consists of some "wool" made from brass, but I never tried the latter, as I imagine they're too hard on the tips iron coating.

    For a quickie when soldering in places away from my lab, I have used moist paper towels, but that is a very annoying experience. A better solution is to cut a V-shape in a piece of silicone rubber and wipe the tip in the groove.

    (A flat piece of silicone rubber is handy for scraping off excess molten solder as well and can be used when hand-tinning boards too).
     
  10. DKNguyen

    Guest

    I just use a thing of brass shavings like a brass scrubber. Just dunk it straight into the mass once and pull it straight out (don't wipte). Doesn't cool the tip, no need for wiping and never wears out.
     
  11. mrmeval

    Distinguished Member

    Jun 30, 2006
    833
    2
    The soldering sponge you get from Weller, Metcal etc is a cellulose sponge with a strong butyl (Fantastic [tm]) surfactant.

    To make one get a cellulose sponge, cut slits in it like you find in commercial solder sponges and alos cut a hole in the middle. Then wet the spong with Fantastic[tm] and water and wring out.

    These work ok but cleaning sponges are large cell. If you can find small cell ones they are better.
     
  12. RAH1379

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    69
    1
    i doubt that a wet sponge would cool the tip as much as touching the cool leads,cool solder, or terminal. My iron has a thermometer and it dont drop when i wipe the tip.
     
  13. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
    143
    Can I ask what soldering iron you are using? Just curious.

    Dave
     
  14. RAH1379

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    69
    1
    I have a weller gun (60/100) watts, a weller 35 watt pencil, and the temperature controlled pencil from radio shack, and a small rechargable gun from radio shack thats a few years old.
     
  15. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
    143
    Well equiped for soldering! I'm only enquiring because we need a new soldering iron in the lab at work, the two we currently have are in violation of many H&S regulations (!!), and I'm looking into purchasing a couple of new ones soon. We only want it for general assembly work, suitable for lab and on-site conditions. Any recommendations from the selection you possess?

    Dave
     
  16. RAH1379

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    69
    1
    i like the weller 35 watt pencil because it has a three prong plug, the temp controlled one has a jack on the back to attach a ground wire to. I've been using my wellers for years and years,(probably about 15 to 20 years) i like the gun (60/100) watt for heavy work like IHVT but dont use it too often on pc boards, i control the temp of it by squeezing and releasing the trigger.
     
  17. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
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    Scroll down ($45.33), is this the iron you are talking about here?

    Dave
     
  18. RAH1379

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    69
    1
    yes thats it, ive had one for years and love it for pcb work
     
  19. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
    143
    Ok thanks for the suggestions. I'll have a look at some local prices tomorrow at work (don't want to be shipping them in from around the world when I can get them round the corner!)

    Dave
     
  20. RAH1379

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    69
    1
    weller is a good brand and i would not hesitate to buy any of their products.
     
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