Soldering Tip turning black, what to do?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Joern, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. Joern

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 10, 2013
    2
    0
    Hi guys,
    recently I got me a very decent soldering station, the JBC AD2700. It's an awesome work tool. My only woe is that the tip is turning black, apparently from the solder flux. Here is a close-up of the tip:
    [​IMG]
    It's not hindering the soldering process as the solder sticks to the tip perfectly. The flux only burns on the special "non-sticky" upper part of the tip.

    I've tried cleaning it with a wet sponge during soldering work with no real effect as it is pretty resilient and cleaning the curved top is quite troublesome. Should I be worried? I'm afraid the continuously burning flux will be overly corrosive to the tip. I'm using Sn60 Pb39 Cu1 Stannol solder with F-SW26 for through-hole and SMD components.

    Do you have any advice or recommendations?
     
  2. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
    16,252
    6,751
    Ignore it. Soldering irons always get ugly. No problem.
     
  3. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
    10,507
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    Tips usually start to erode over time, but what I do if the wet sponge doesn't do the trick, is use the non-metallic type of scouring pad and give it a quick flash on the hot tip.
    Max.
     
  4. Potato Pudding

    Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2010
    684
    92
    Eventually you just replace the tip.

    Too vigorously trying to clean your tip can easily do more damage and and accelerate the erosion.

    Best thing is to make certain that you have an automatic iron that will heat up fast and shut off when you set it down so that it doesn't burn itself away.
     
  5. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    Let's get some perspective here. That couldn't be a copper tip or it would dissolve in a week. It must be an ironclad tip and I've only ruined 2 of them in 40 years. The only thing I do to clean it is to wipe the actual soldering tip on a damp sponge every few minutes. Even if 20 years use out of a $5 tip doesn't satisfy you, I don't know what you could do to make it last longer.
     
  6. Joern

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 10, 2013
    2
    0
    Yep, the JBC AD2700 has an automatic sleep function and heats up to operating temperature in just a few seconds. JBC tips are supposed to be extremely durable.

    That what's covered in burned flux appears to be a chrome layer over the ironclad tip according to this nice graphic from JBC:
    [​IMG]

    Those tips are also considerably more expensive than $5. As I'm very new to this level of soldering, I want to make sure I don't wastefully wear out the tip.
     
  7. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    I suggest you ask JBC about the damage that will happen if the chrome layer isn't kept nice and shiny.
     
  8. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    You will get 'Black Marks' for poor housekeeping!! :rolleyes:
    Max.
     
    #12 likes this.
  9. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
    4,413
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    The black residue is slightly corrosive at the working temperature, but replacing a worn tip before *TOO* long can prevent it seizing on so the element gets destroyed removing the tip.

    For those who are really bothered by the burnt residue stain - chances are you'll do more damage removing it than leaving it be.

    One of the best abrasives is the Sandflex diamond particles in a rubber polishing block (expensive!) you should use the finest grit, and very gently - if you break through the iron clad, as someone else pointed out; the copper core will dissolve in a week!
     
  10. Metalmann

    Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
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  11. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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  12. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    I have taken up using anti-seize compound from my automotive kit to avoid having to beat the tip off with a hammer and vise-grips.
     
  13. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
    5,435
    1,305
    Stop rubbing it on a wet sponge, and get a good system like rubbing it on a large solder blob. :)

    You won't get the thermal shock of the wet sponge, nor the increased oxidation from constant bombardment with 300'C steam.

    Also rubbing on a solder blob "burnishes" (polishes, makes shiny) the tip so it solders better, transfers heat better and gets a better tinning when fresh solder is applied.

    Wet sponges have been banned in my workshop since the 1980's. :)
     
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  14. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
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    Metalmann likes this.
  15. snowdrifter

    Member

    Aug 13, 2013
    43
    1
    Clean the tip and tin it with some solder. Should help with that.

    Mine turns black if I have the temp cranked way up
     
  16. JBC Tools

    New Member

    Jan 28, 2013
    2
    1
    Dear Joern,

    According to the picture, the tip is tinned and does not suffer the "black tip" problem. The residue on the chrome layer should not damage the tip because it comes from the flux, as already mentioned. Furthermore, the datasheet for the solder wire says that this residue is not corrosive. So, do not worry.

    One way to reduce this quantity of residue would be:
    1. Reduce to the minimum the working temperature (when lead, this temperature may be lower than 350 °C).
    2. Use a flux that generates less solid waste. Consult with your flux supplier.

    Hope this helps.

    You can find more information about soldering tip care on our website www.jbctools.com or by contacting us at: jbctools@jbctools.com.

    Best regards,
    Technical Support
    JBC Soldering S.L.
     
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  17. PackratKing

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2008
    850
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    Keep one of those el cheapo chinese " dollarstore " brass or stainless bristle brushes on your bench, and use as necesary to remove black scale left back from flux.
    I helps to tin a new tip as far up as heat allows, and keep it brushed off...

    Last, don't allow your iron to idle all day, waiting to make a few connections...
    If you must leave it idle, rig a holder of an old large hollow ceramic power resistor to stand your iron in... it bleeds off excess heat, and allows your iron to recover working temp quickly.
     
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  18. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    To JBC Tools; Thank you! It's wonderful for the soldering iron manufacturer to make an appearance with the official info.

    I checked your website for your tech info on "increasing tip life" and noticed you are still using wet sponges, although you specify that they are to be kept slightly damp (not saturated) and use only de-ionised water.

    My experiences with apprentices in the workshow etc is that they make sponges WET and with little care, and de-ionised water sounds like another thing the guys won't bother to get right.

    Is there a particular reason for staying with damp sponges rather than some of the newer tech metallic cleaners?
     
  19. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
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    Most (non-temperature controlled) are regulated by the resistance wire tempco' - sinking the heat in standby makes the element draw more current and shortens its life.

    An old trick of the trade; is to put a diode in series with the iron to clip the alternate half cycles of the AC, a shorting switch in parallel with the diode brings the iron back up to full power.

    Don't try this with irons that have a transformer base station (except on the secondary) or irons with built in triac control.
     
    PackratKing likes this.
  20. Metalmann

    Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
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    That sounds like something to try, have a sketch handy for us picture thinkers?:confused:
     
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