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Soldering Iron Tip Cleaning

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  • J Tiers
    replied
    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.

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  • Ian B
    replied
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • Seastar
    replied
    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

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  • Ian B
    replied
    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

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  • Paul Alciatore
    replied
    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.

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  • Seastar
    replied
    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

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  • Seastar
    replied
    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.

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  • AD5MB
    replied
    the leg of my jeans, or boot leather.

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  • H380
    replied
    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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  • danlb
    replied
    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

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  • rdfeil
    replied
    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

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  • Paul Alciatore
    replied
    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.

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  • Andre3127
    replied
    I quite like soldering actually, it's simple to stick things together using an iron for low-strength applications where glue won't work. You can solder much more than just wires with an iron.

    I've always used a wet sponge, also helps clean the rosin off.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Artful Bodger
    replied
    I usually just do a quick wipe on the leg of the old jeans I would be wearing.

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  • _Paul_
    replied
    Originally posted by Ian B View Post
    I had no success with the wet sponge, largely because when I come to use it, the sponge has dried out and I couldn't be bothered to get it wet. The swarf thingy is ready, right off the bat. I'm sure it'll turn nasty eventually, but hey, refills (if not already in my lathe's drip tray) are only a quid each...
    Ian
    Thanks for the heads up, just ordered one it's got to be better than wiping the tip on a rag or my jeans because im too tired to wet the sponge

    Leave a comment:

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