# Do I have to tin the tip of my soldering iron every single time? + other questions

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#### rambomhtri

Joined Nov 9, 2015
350
Wow, thank you for those advices!

But I don't really get the "explosion" thing that it's going on. How can solder fly everywhere?

#### ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,539
Wow, thank you for those advices!

But I don't really get the "explosion" thing that it's going on. How can solder fly everywhere?
The post you replied to mentions lead - there shouldn't be any if you use RoHS solder.

Oxide particles and bits of carbonised flux can cause voids in the solder melt - any volatile contaminants in those voids can "pop" and splatter some molten solder about.

#### rambomhtri

Joined Nov 9, 2015
350
Oh, I bought 60 tin/40 lead solder. Then I should wear always glasses?
Hermetic ones?
Cause if it's lead what's dangerous, not only I should wear glasses, but also cover my eyes from being in contact of air, as it may contain volatilized particles with lead stuck on them.

Should't the air current from the fan (pointing from my head towards the circuit so particles and fumes go away) blow away all those hazardous particles, and then I could avoid wearing glasses?
Let's be honest, I hate wearing glasses. So a fan pointing to the soldering area should be enough to protect my eyes from any hazardous particle flying around, right?

#### dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
12,792
Cause if it's lead what's dangerous, not only I should wear glasses, but also cover my eyes from being in contact of air, as it may contain volatilized particles with lead stuck on them.
It takes temps of over 3000F to volatize lead. At normal soldering temperatures, any smoke will be mainly from the flux.

Solder smoke isn't going to kill you. It can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat; but symptoms should subside on their won. Just use common sense. Don't breath in the fumes and don't put your nose over what you're soldering.
Should't the air current from the fan (pointing from my head towards the circuit so particles and fumes go away) blow away all those hazardous particles, and then I could avoid wearing glasses?
Solder can splatter so eye protection is always adviseable.
Let's be honest, I hate wearing glasses. So a fan pointing to the soldering area should be enough to protect my eyes from any hazardous particle flying around, right?
Would you rather be inconvenienced by wearing safety glasses or be blind? It's up to you...

#### ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,539
It takes temps of over 3000F to volatize lead. At normal soldering temperatures, any smoke will be mainly from the flux.

Solder smoke isn't going to kill you.
...
About a year ago it was on the news, report of a death from solder fumes in someone who had been using cadmium based LMP solder - its the first direct fatality from cadmium that I'd heard of - it usually causes osteoporosis and death usually occurs as internal organs are punctured by fractured bones.

Regular solder does produce lead fumes, but I don't know precisely what injury they cause.

Most flux fumes aren't healthfull - some are toxic to varying degrees.

#### rambomhtri

Joined Nov 9, 2015
350
Yeah, but don't you think wearing glasses while soldering is kind of excessive?
I mean, look at this, expert level NASA soldering, lol:

He is not wearing any kind of special glasses, they are just regular glasses, not covering at all the whole eyes area, so the eyes are exposed to particles anyway. He is not even using a fan, so the fumes go all around his face. It's like wearing glasses and a gas mask in winter if you dare to fire your fireplace in the living-room, cause fumes and stuff go all around the ambient and can go to your lungs, eyes...

I don't know, I don't see it convincing...

#### ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,539
Yeah, but don't you think wearing glasses while soldering is kind of excessive?
I mean, look at this, expert level NASA soldering, lol:

He is not wearing any kind of special glasses, they are just regular glasses, not covering at all the whole eyes area, so the eyes are exposed to particles anyway. He is not even using a fan, so the fumes go all around his face. It's like wearing glasses and a gas mask in winter if you dare to fire your fireplace in the living-room, cause fumes and stuff go all around the ambient and can go to your lungs, eyes...

I don't know, I don't see it convincing...
Some employers require safety glasses on anyone who's soldering for them.

Sometimes I've had a solder joint spit, and once or twice its gone in my eye - its pretty irritant, but so far no permanent damage.

#### mcgyvr

Joined Oct 15, 2009
5,394
Just like seat belts.. You only need them when something happens and then you are darn glad you had it on..

No one likes wearing glasses or any "protective" gear... but thats life..
Be safe or take the risks.. Its your choice..

#### rambomhtri

Joined Nov 9, 2015
350
Well... I see an accident of a car at 100mph, and I really want to fasten my seat belt. I see a soldering process and I don't see even the slightest harm. And if you put a fan blowing so fumes go away... I don't know.

Can you show me an explosion/splatter doing regular soldering with a 58W iron soldering?

May be I'm missing something...

#### bertus

Joined Apr 5, 2008
21,319
Hello,

Ever seen a soldering iron fly?
I did when I was a youngster and grabbed the wrong side of it.

Bertus

#### rambomhtri

Joined Nov 9, 2015
350
Hello,

Ever seen a soldering iron fly?
I did when I was a youngster and grabbed the wrong side of it.

Bertus
Nope. What is a soldering iron fly?

Oh, wait, I though "soldering iron fly" was an object or something like that, lol. So you actually saw a soldering iron thrown in the air, flying, and you tried to catch it? Why?
And what has that to do with glasses?

#### mcgyvr

Joined Oct 15, 2009
5,394
I see a soldering process and I don't see even the slightest harm.
well being that you are an expert at soldering you must be right..

#### bertus

Joined Apr 5, 2008
21,319
Hello,

It is a real life anecdote:

I was still a kid and my dad had a soldering iron on laying on the table on an open stand.
I grabbed the hot side and I threw it away.
I had blisters all over my hand.

Bertus

#### GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
8,012
Hello,

It is an real life anecdote:

I was still a kid and my dad had a soldering iron on laying on the table on an open stand.
I grabbed the hot side and I threw it away.
I had blisters all over my hand.

Bertus
I did the same thing - only I was 9-years old and it was my own soldering iron (right after my first attempt to solder a germanium diode to a coil of copper wire for a crystal radio). I thought only the tip was getting hot - not the whole exposed metal.

And this thread is laughable. The OP is looking at his soldering iron as a new bride trying to take care of the crystal or fine china she got for wedding gifts. OP, the soldering iron is a tool. The tip is a consumable/replaceable item. Don't waste $10 worth of solder and time to make a$7 tip last twice as long.

#### rambomhtri

Joined Nov 9, 2015
350
I'm just saying I can't imagine a single situation where your eyes could get damaged while melting a solid metal with a "stick". Can anyone show me a video of someone soldering that got hurt in his eyes?

Add to the equation that I would be using a fan, so there are even less chances.

You're not a professional chef, but if a chef tells you that you must wear glasses while chopping a carrot cause it's safety, I'm sure you would ask why. And you would not see any good reason to wear glasses while chopping a carrot. That's what's happening right now. As I said, may be I'm missing something, may be sometimes the solder explodes, lol. I don't know.

I know it's a tool, and I spent money on it, and I like to know how to take care of my tools, that's why I started this thread and read a lot of info in websites and videos. Since the tip gets quite hot, I didn't know if maintaining it in a bad way could make it work way, way worse. Also, many users, just like you, recommend to tin the tip and take care of it. So it's not that easy, you know.

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#### dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
12,792
I did when I was a youngster and grabbed the wrong side of it.
People can't really appreciate this until they've done it themselves. I did it once back in the 70's and the burn was bad enough to make me never want to do it again.

#### rambomhtri

Joined Nov 9, 2015
350
Why would you ever want to grab a soldering iron from the tip or the chrome surface?
LOL

Well, for example, I don't see anyone recommending to use gloves when soldering, and I'm 120% sure that iron soldering burns happen a lot, lot, lot more times than and eye being irritated by I don't know why (since you guys still have not shown me any video about it).

#### kubeek

Joined Sep 20, 2005
5,751
Why would you ever want to grab a soldering iron from the tip or the chrome surface?
LOL
You will speak different once you try catching a falling soldering iron and catch it by the wrong bit
Some I have heard even tried to put it in the mouth instead of a pencil..

#### volthauslab

Joined Aug 5, 2015
3
rambomhtri I would suggest you just think about every one of these suggestions and then get on with your hobby. Experience, observation of your work etc. will teach you more than anything else. I was just like you when I began, really wanting to do it right and take care of my beloved iron, and in spite of all that my first tip probably lasted me a couple of months. I did make a mistake in choice of tips, buying a very pointed tip instead of what is known as a screwdriver tip. The beveled ends of the screwdriver do a much better job of heating up what I plan to solder. The more contact you can make tip-to-component the more the heat will transfer to the component. Also since i started using the metal wool for cleaning I never use a wet sponge. With the sponge there is considerable thermal shock every time you wipe your tip. The death of my first tip came when I wiped it on the sponge and left most the end of the tip on the sponge. And if you want to use eye protection or not is your choice, I think the reasons for wearing eye protection have been explained in depth. I myself wear my ordinary glasses 90% of the time.
I hope you have many safe years enjoying the hobby of electronics

#### rambomhtri

Joined Nov 9, 2015
350
You will speak different once you try catching a falling soldering iron and catch it by the wrong bit
Some I have heard even tried to put it in the mouth instead of a pencil..
I've got burnt already with a soldering iron, a few years ago. But I've never have had a soldering iron myself. So yeah, I know it hurts like hell and the worst of it is that it lasts days the pain.

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