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

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wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
16,798
I have that model iron and tip, minus the rocking red color, and I rarely tin my tip unless it has gone "dry". A wipe on the sponge is usually enough to shine it up. If it's always turning black, I turn down the temperature. When things are just right, I can use it for hours with barely any attention.

When I'm done I just turn it off and pack it away once it cools. The sponge is small (and glued in place on mine) and should be just damp, not soaked. So I never worry about the moisture.
 

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rambomhtri

Joined Nov 9, 2015
322
I have that model iron and tip, minus the rocking red color, and I rarely tin my tip unless it has gone "dry". A wipe on the sponge is usually enough to shine it up. If it's always turning black, I turn down the temperature. When things are just right, I can use it for hours with barely any attention.

When I'm done I just turn it off and pack it away once it cools. The sponge is small (and glued in place on mine) and should be just damp, not soaked. So I never worry about the moisture.
Exactly, mine is glued too. I know I can remove the glue, but for now I don't want to. I don't think is a really good idea to pack the station and close the box with the sponge dump. I think if you do that, at least you shouldn't close the box, leave it open, so water can evaporate easier. It's not great to pack electrical devices with a high level of humidity, like the sponge can cause.
 

presch

Joined Nov 4, 2011
12
11: Is it normal if the first time I turn on the soldering iron, smoke start to appear? I've read that the very first time you warm up your soldering iron, you may smell burnt plastic or smoke comes out of your soldering iron or from the tip...
It's not unusual for any brand new device (electrical, mechanical etc) that supposed to get warm or hot when used to smell or even smoke when it's turned on for the first time. This is normal and caused by solvents in plastics and paint or oils in/on the device to be emitted or burnt off.
If the smoke is coming from the tip of the iron when it's turn on it's probably a bit of residual flux being burnt off and nothing to worry about.
It the iron is not new and smoke is being emitted from anywhere else other than the tip then you have a problem though in 50 years of using soldering irons professionally I have never come across a smoking soldering iron. Usually they just die gracefully or fall to bits.
 

ccclarke

Joined Sep 25, 2016
4
Having soldered to NASA-level specs for over thirty years, and being an IPC solder instructor, this thread was an interesting read.

Safety: Always wear eye protection unless you're soldering under a microscope! It only takes a moment to accidently have molten solder flick off a wire while being tinned under tension to lose an eye. I've also done a lot of repairs lying on my back inside of a cabinet soldering over my head- obviously eye protection was needed. Doing things the same way every time minimizes the potential for problems, like orienting a scalpel under a scope before putting your eyes over the eyepieces.

Solder Fume Ventilation: A fume extractor (as opposed to just a fan) should draw the fumes away, not blow fumes over the work area. Minute amounts of lead are vaporized with the flux when soldering. Over time, the lead accumulates in the body. As brain damage sets in, solder operators begin to remove solder tip oxidation with the tips of their tongues. No one wins.

At a minimum, always exhale while the flux smokes to minimize fume inhalation.

A cheap fume extractor like this works great! https://www.amazon.com/Aoyue-Bencht...t_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=9SFJYHPRZ1P0KQTNGTAF Buy a decent brand that comes with replaceable filters.

Wire Tinning: The first video (wire tinning) was pretty thorough. That's how I tin wires for a re-certification test where everything is evaluated and must be flawless, though in non-space flight (normal) work, I don't wipe the solder and stripped wire with IPA, unless there's a cleanliness issue.

A point that wasn't explored in detail was why he left untinned conductors near the insulation. This is the mark of a pro, though IPC standards allow some solder to wick under the insulation. The reason for this is to allow the wire to bend (think: strain relief) near the solder joint, --depending on the application. One workmanship requirement is to allow for two repairs at a solder joint in discrete wiring, so it pays to leave enough slack for that in a service loop. Too much movement on untinned strands can cause bird-caging, so a little common sense goes a long way.

Tip Tinning: Like the video depicts, adding a drop of solder to the tip after cleaning it, minimizes oxidation. It's a good habit to develop.

Soldering isn't a spectator sport, it takes time and practice to get good at it. You can have the best tools available, but without the proper techniques and training, you can easily induce latent failures into your work.

CC
 
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Thread Starter

rambomhtri

Joined Nov 9, 2015
322
Welcome to AAC!
Can you site references for this? Temperatures used for soldering should be well below the boiling point for solder.
Water boils at 100 ºC, but water molecules are vaporized at 25 ºC as well. You don't need to reach a boiling point to vaporize a substance. Some molecules go away by a natural process, and I think that's also applicable to solder. The hotter the substance is, the more molecules will go away this way.
 

ccclarke

Joined Sep 25, 2016
4
Welcome to AAC!
Can you site references for this? Temperatures used for soldering should be well below the boiling point for solder.
A google search of "solder fume danger" should more than suffice as a deterrent to exposing oneself to solder fumes where lead is involved. But here's one source anyway: http://www.sentryair.com/solder-fumes.htm The toxic affects of lead exposure to the nervous system have been known for decades.

You're correct, solder isn't boiled, it's transformed to a plastic state when flowing a joint.

CC
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
12,465
A google search of "solder fume danger" should more than suffice as a deterrent to exposing oneself to solder fumes where lead is involved.
I don't dispute that inhaling lead isn't safe, but I have never seen any documents stating lead fumes were a risk at normal soldering temperatures. I thought you might have some.

This is an excerpt from soldering guidelines from LBNL:
upload_2016-9-25_7-36-39.png
 

ccclarke

Joined Sep 25, 2016
4
I don't dispute that inhaling lead isn't safe, but I have never seen any documents stating lead fumes were a risk at normal soldering temperatures. I thought you might have some.

This is an excerpt from soldering guidelines from LBNL:
View attachment 112537
I don't want to nuke this subject to death. Obviously, the potential inhalation hazards associated with solder operations are different for occupational workers when compared to the occasionally-soldering hobbyist. All of the formal solder training I've ever received warns against inhalation of solder fumes.

A quick check of an OSHA-compliant MSDS sheet for a roll of commercial eutectic solder being used under normal circumstances should be official enough for most: http://www.gcelectronics.com/order/msds/268.pdf

Skeptics may inhale at their own risk.

CC
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
12,465
I don't want to nuke this subject to death.
I think all credible sources of information stating the risks, or absence of risk, should be posted in this thread should be discussed. I personally am more concerned about ingesting lead from handling the solder.
All of the formal solder training I've ever received warns against inhalation of solder fumes.
Did any of that formal training cite references for the risk from lead fumes? I've seen many documents that indicated certain individuals could suffer symptoms from inhaling fumes from flux but, nothing about lead.

If you have references indicating lead can vaporize at normal soldering temperatures, it would be helpful.
 

upand_at_them

Joined May 15, 2010
694
If you do a lot of soldering you should wear gloves. Lead gets absorbed through the skin. Of course, wrinkly old dry skin is less susceptible. I wear gloves if I'm soldering more than a couple joints. And I always wash my hands afterwards.
 

ccclarke

Joined Sep 25, 2016
4
Post #67 sums this subject up nicely, and jives with a statement I previously made, "Minute amounts of lead are vaporized with the flux when soldering."

Rather than delve into the chemistry behind the whole melting solder with airborne flux thing, feel free to conduct your own research online; it's out there. I've got other, more important things to do besides engage in a debate grounded in common sense on a subject that I have never questioned before or now, and for good reason. Working with any lead-based products carries an inherent risk. Minimizing exposure with gloves, hand-washing and proper ventilation are simple and effective techniques that have been applied long before I picked up a soldering iron. YMMV.

CC
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
12,465
I've got other, more important things to do besides engage in a debate grounded in common sense on a subject that I have never questioned before or now, and for good reason.
I'm not debating you. I'm just asking for references with data. I thought from your experience teaching how to solder that you would have had verifiable data attesting to the dangers of lead fumes from soldering at normal soldering temperatures.

I don't take the information in the post you referenced as fact.
 

eetech00

Joined Jun 8, 2013
2,280
#4--yes you should absolutely wear safety glasses... If you look at the soldering process under a microscope its like a miniature explosion going on.. Small particles of solder,etc... go flying everywhere (potential for up to a few feet in either direction).. Not to mention you will be trimming leads after soldered,etc.. which can get into your eyes,etc.. And each time you clean the tip on the sponge/wool you will flick little particles all over.. I've had numerous small/very..very minor burns on my hands from solder flicking off onto my hands..
Yes...as mcgyvr states...you should absolutely wear safety glasses.

Once there was a co worker of mine that reached up to scratch her face and accidently touched the soldering iron tip to here face.
She was lucky....it could have been her eye.

BTW- I've also hand soldered for over 40 years. My station has an area to place a wet sponge. I simply swipe the tip occasionally to clean the tip and, while holding a solder wire in my hand, touch the solder wire to the tip, and continue soldering. It's no big deal. But you need to start soldering to get hang of it.
 
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Interesting thread. I worked in a research lab and was part of the safety committee for a while.
One of the bigger problems was unknowns. Everything had to be labeled.

You should perform a "job hazard analysis" when you do just about anything. It's about what can happen and what your first aid would be and personal protective equipment (PPE) required. An MSDS will cover PPE required. It wont help if you can't read the MSDS in an emergency.

So, this http://www.apexhandtools.com/MSDS/weller/Rosin Core MSDS English.pdf covers rosen core solder with lead.

So, yea. The power went out. My foot caught on the soldering iron cord and I went to grab it. Caught the wrong end. Lessons learned for a lot of things. It's a common reflex to try to catch. Don;t try to catch things that can hurt you.

This guy I knew was soldering brass and he was literally "dripping" the solder on the joints. I told him to buy a resistance soldering iron and he was really happy.

You really don;t want to apply solder to the tip of the iron. Well you do and you don't. Tinning is OK. It enhances the thermal contact. You want that. When you solder, you heat the wire and the pad and apply solder to the the lead and pad on the opposite side, so the tip of your iron sees little solder while soldering.

You don't want to file the tip either. The iron cladding is important.

==

The tools you referenced are more for removing components. The solder won't stick to them. The wire bruch can help you remove the flux.

Do, clean the flux off your boards.

We have been talking about conventional soldering. The lead-free stuff typically has a higher temperature,

I've used extremely low temperature solder such as pure indium to pure silver (silver solder/brazing) I've done copper tubing (plumbing) and stainless steel. I also did a stint of sealing toxic substances under vacuum in a quartz tube, so i can work with quartz and pyrex too. The techniques are all over the map.

Tools included soldering irons, resistance soldering, butane, acetelene/oxygen, propane/oxygen, MAPP gas/oxygen and Hydrogen/ oxygen.
 

tranzz4md

Joined Apr 10, 2015
310
Keepitsimplestupid says:
"You should perform a "job hazard analysis"when you do just about anything."

I'm still laughing. ..but on the other hand, I'd say that I continuously perform job, task, and environmental hazard analysis when I'm awake, which is how I've survived to my ripe old age.

This entire thread is really about learning to do a manual task in a skilled maner, simply by reading. My analysis of that task says that's ludicrous and always unsafe. In the time it takes to read this thread, and not any MSDS, I can teach someone to solder, safely.

I fear that forums such as this, search engines such as Google, and the lack of valid, continuous, reality analysis by people who have been taught and mentored by others is building "the clueless generation". This forum and the other resources mentioned have been created to ease the task and assist people with teaching and learning. Don't come here claiming to know precisely what you don't know, and then argue your points.
 

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,217
Are you guys still kicking this can 8 months later?o_O
I would bet Rambo learned how to solder 7 months ago.:D
And found out it's not all that difficult.;)

Should I tin the tip every single time?
Should I sharpen the pencil every single time?
Nah. You'll get a feel for it pretty quick.
Solder solder solder...wipe wipe...solder solder solder.
It's about like that, isn't it, Rambo?
See?...nuthin' to it.:p
Just get in there and make your "beginner" mistakes.
You'll be good at it in about 30 minutes.:cool:
 

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,566
Are you guys still kicking this can 8 months later?o_O
I would bet Rambo learned how to solder 7 months ago.:D
And found out it's not all that difficult.;)

Should I tin the tip every single time?
Should I sharpen the pencil every single time?
Nah. You'll get a feel for it pretty quick.
Solder solder solder...wipe wipe...solder solder solder.
It's about like that, isn't it, Rambo?
See?...nuthin' to it.:p
Just get in there and make your "beginner" mistakes.
You'll be good at it in about 30 minutes.:cool:
Quite possibly the most pertinent post in the entire thread because good soldering is, above all, a mechanical skill best learned through practice. The only statement I'd take issue with is the "30 minutes" bit; I think it's more like "a couple hours." But that's a minor quibble...
 

Thread Starter

rambomhtri

Joined Nov 9, 2015
322
Yeah, I've soldered some since I first started this thread. But there's one thing you got wrong.

I didn't start this thread to know how to solder. I mean, I started this because after watching videos and reading soldering guidelines, I had a lot of questions. Some here said I had OCD, lol. Not at all, it's just that I'm curious and I want my solder joints to be as good as possible, and for that I must read and ask questions, and think about the answers.

About the last topic of this thread, the lead fumes. As I've said already and dl324 has ignored, you don't need to reach the boiling point of a substance at all in order to see some molecules of it vaporize, or go to the air.

It happens in a natural process, and if you dont believe me, spill some water in the floor and wait 10 minutes. OMG, the water has disappeared.

Was the floor at 100°C?
No.

The same happens with lead when it's melted.

Of course, the amount of molecules going free to the air depend on the substance/element we're taking about, as well as the vapor pressure and many other variables.

I think that in a well ventilated room, these really tiny lead fumes won't affect at all to your health.

This is what I theoretically know, I haven't got a lab to measure all of this a come here with proofs.

So, do lead fumes happen?
Probably, there will be lead atoms flying around.

Is that harm in any way?
I don't think so due to the low concentration.
 
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