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Soldering Iron Tip Cleaning

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  • #16
    I used the wet sponge for some time before switching to the metal coil cleaner. I kept a squirt bottle of water on the workbench to keep it wet. It did work, but it also does cool the tip down. So you have to wait for a few seconds while it heats up again. And it can accumulate some oxide while that is happening. I find the metal coil cleaner is a lot faster and it cleans the tips just as well or better.
    Paul A.
    SE Texas

    And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
    You will find that it has discrete steps.

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    • #17
      I've been in the electronics industry for 35 years and agree the metal coil type tip cleaners are easier to use. Sponges work well also but are always dry and have to be wetted first. I have found the copper scouring pads at the local grocery store work very well and cost .99 for a 2 pack. Also, the comments about high quality tips is right on. Cheap tips are not worth the postage to get them. Higher quality soldering equipment is also well worth the cost. I use Weller for day to day use and it seems I wear out or break the cords before the equipment actually fails. My favorite is the Welller WCTP series stations with 700 or 800 deg F tips. Just my choices, YMMV...

      Robin
      Last edited by rdfeil; 10-14-2016, 09:40 PM. Reason: spelling
      Robin

      Happily working on my second million Gave up on the first

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Mike Amick View Post
        I am a very experienced solderer ... but know little about the chemical composition or processes
        affecting the tinning of the tip.

        I'm really hard on my tips .. tending to over heat them.
        .
        The chemical process?? No idea. How does it work? I have an idea!

        The main reason that the tip gets eaten up is the use of flux. It's mildly corrosive when hot. But you need the flux to clean the joint and protect it from oxidzing in that few seconds that the solder is molten.

        One popular technique to minimize tip erosion is simply to make sure that you put a dab of solder on the tip before you put it back in the holder each time.

        Dan
        At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

        Location: SF East Bay.

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        • #19
          I have been soldering for 30+ years also. The #1 killer of tips is negligence. Turning the iron on and just leaving it in the holder burns the tinning off the tip and turns the flux into hard glass like crap. That you then need to mechanically remove further running the tip. You turn the iron on. Use it. Wipe the tip on a damp sponge removing excess flux and solder. Then turn the iron OFF. You just need to wait for it to heat up to use it again. I can get 6 months out of 1 tip and I use a soldering iron multiple times a day 5 days a week.

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          • #20
            the leg of my jeans, or boot leather.

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            • #21
              For those of you who forget to wet the sponge, get a small squirt bottle like mustard or ketchup comes in and sit it next to the iron filled with water.
              Free and works.
              We used to buy them for our factory until our employees started bringing all kind of squirt bottles from home and it became a competition to see who could find the most exotic used bottle.
              The best so far originally had some sort of hot seasoning from Burma.
              Bill

              Sorry, I missed Paul's post about the squirt bottle.
              Last edited by Seastar; 10-15-2016, 10:08 AM.
              I cut it off twice and it's still too short!

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              • #22
                I should add that because our factory is ROHS compliant we cannot risk contaminating solder joints with other metals, especially lead.
                The damp sponge is metal free and cannot contaminate the iron.
                Who knows what metals are in the "swarf" type cleaners.

                The OPs cleaner is fine and probably works very well for home use.
                Bill
                I cut it off twice and it's still too short!

                Comment


                • #23
                  Glad you posted. I find it interesting that everyone was competing to have the most unique bottle.



                  Originally posted by Seastar View Post
                  For those of you who forget to wet the sponge, get a small squirt bottle like mustard or ketchup comes in and sit it next to the iron filled with water.
                  Free and works.
                  We used to buy them for our factory until our employees started bringing all kind of squirt bottles from home and it became a competition to see who could find the most exotic used bottle.
                  The best so far originally had some sort of hot seasoning from Burma.
                  Bill

                  Sorry, I missed Paul's post about the squirt bottle.
                  Paul A.
                  SE Texas

                  And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                  You will find that it has discrete steps.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Hi Bill,

                    Then I'm probably as non-ROHS as you can get - I've stocked up on tin/lead solder, just in case they ban it completely. I keep the stock in a nice, fireproof asbestos-lined cupboard, right above my stock of carbon tetrachloride

                    Ian
                    All of the gear, no idea...

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                    • #25
                      Ian
                      Good for you.
                      I can tell you that our transition to ROHS a few years ago was a real PITA and still causes problems occasionally.
                      It does work however.
                      Bill
                      I cut it off twice and it's still too short!

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Bill,

                        How do you find using the lead-free solders? I'm not thinking about the wave baths here, just traditional soldering iron & flux; is wettability a problem, or are the fluxes now so good that even an average HSM'er could switch? I tried several years ago, miserable experience. Just wondering if things have improved.

                        Thanks,

                        Ian
                        All of the gear, no idea...

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Ian B View Post
                          Bill,

                          How do you find using the lead-free solders? I'm not thinking about the wave baths here, just traditional soldering iron & flux; is wettability a problem, or are the fluxes now so good that even an average HSM'er could switch? I tried several years ago, miserable experience. Just wondering if things have improved.

                          Thanks,

                          Ian
                          Generally fine. need a hotter iron, and there are things to get used to, personal habits to change, maybe.

                          You will probably want to get a flux pen if you do SMT soldering, it makes everything work so much better, even soldering fine pitch leads on microprocessors. The lead free solder type (that IIRC uses a lemon juice base) works particularly well for getting a good contour joint on leads from solder held on the iron, not added from wire or paste. Done right, the joint pulls just enough solder off the iron, without dross problems.
                          CNC machines only go through the motions

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