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Picture of How to tin even the grungiest Soldering Iron.
Let's say you've been a bad maker and let your soldering iron tip get to the point where it's hopeless trying to tin it. Now you can rejuvenate that crusty old tip using a remarkable new technique that's been around for centuries.

Step 1: What you need is...

Picture of What you need is...
Some Sal Ammoniac, now I know that that sounds like the name of a Borscht Belt comedian , but it's actually Ammonium Chloride. And it's sold in blocks at places that sell stained glass supplies and occasionally Ace.
 
HCl IS EXTREEMLY POISONOUS, I cant spell, but it is bad... even if inhaled it will kill you... hydrocloric acid... good instructable though.
Hydrochloric acid is NOT poisonous. Your stomach is full of it! You wouldn't want to breathe it in though, acid in the lungs is a bad idea. But it isn't poisonous!

HCL is a gas, and is most definitely poisonous. HCL alone is not hydrochloric acid. Hydrocholic acid is the aqueous solution of HCL (or if you prefer, HCL dissolved in water).

When HCL is inhaled it dissolves in the moisture on the mucosal membranes and anywhere else there is moisture, whereupon the moisture becomes hydrochloric acid. Much of the damage occurs before even reaching the lungs where, of course, it does even more damage.

Poisons do NOT have to be ingested. If you were right then Sarin gas is not poisonous, nor is snake venom, nor any of a myriad of other poisons just because they're not eaten.

I bought a new soldering iron, chisel-tip, 40 watt. I have gone through over a foot of non-lead resin-core solder, and it won't tin at all: the solder just balls up and falls off. I wiped it with a wet sponge, tried paper & scraping it on wood; I even lightlly used sand paper ... nothing. I feel like vomitting on it to get it coated with HCl. Also, I tried soldering with it untinned, & the solder won't melt into the wire : the wire and the solder got too hot to hold, but still nothing.
WarSaw drsteevo6 years ago
u guys are right u have to eat poison ,its more toxic
Derin drsteevo7 years ago
correct!
it is used for cleaning and fluxing solder joints... if it was a silver kind of colour then it would be used for SMTs Unless it days rosin on the tin, I highly do not recommend it for electronic soldering because it is probably solder acid used for plumbing and will eat away at circuit boards.
modeve4 years ago
The reason why sanding / grinding is not a long term strategy is that soldering iron tips are made of copper, but are iron plated (Actually plated with several metals).

If you eventually grind or sand through the plating, the tip degenerates very quickly. Looking at the tip in the picture makes me wonder whether this has already occurred.

Radio Shack and others sell little tins of "tip tinner" that is used in about the same technique as the instructable. Smells nasty while using. Several instructions (in various readings) caution users to wipe the tip off throughly with water / sponge, instead of the growingly popular brass "scrubbies".
depends on whats in your tin & how hot your iron is.

Old tiymer way is to use an tin can bottom heat the iron up then rub it around the bottom of the can while applying solder to the iron

Instead of going out an buying a new tip, could I sharpen the tip with a sander or a dremel tool? Leaving soldering irons on overnight kind of tends to make the tip fall off.
sassquatch65 years ago
sanding worked for me!  thanks. Rock on! I thought it was a problem with me but that worked!
twocvbloke6 years ago
I also sand the tips of my irons, quick, easy and leaves no nasty chemical smells in the air... :P
Good job. I didn't know I could do that. I already have the ammoniac. I'll try it.
That looks easy to do! Is that flux really from 1066 A.D.?
i dont think they had soldering irons back then:P... hehe, im not sure, but i have a feeling he was jokeing.
n0ukf gamer7 years ago
Yes, he was joking about how far back that can of flux went. Soldering however is an old process. Before electric irons, the soldering iron (or copper) was set in a torch flame to heat it then applied to whatever was being soldered. Many old torches have a rest built into the top for laying the iron in the flame.
dean-1017 years ago
hey, can anyone tell me what solder paste is for?? i got it was a soldering iron kit . it is in a small red tub and is a light brown color and it is not a liquid it is like a sticky paste.
Tool Using Animal (author)  dean-1017 years ago
It's used in reflow soldering of surface mounted components.
Ohm7 years ago
A metal file works good as well, just use it lightly to get down to the metal again. Also I find using a small tin filled with course brass wool works better to clean the tip instead of a sponge.
to be honest i just sand my soldering iron tip. it works wonders
I use a foam nail file for this and tons of other project sanding needs. The kind with 4 different grits. They're the perfect size, shape, & consistency for small jobs like this.
SWV17877 years ago
nice Idea I might have to try this on an old soldering iron I got lying around.
dchall87 years ago
I never used any chemicals. I always had good luck turning the heat on and cleaning the tip against a brass bristled brush. Sometimes it took more patience than others, but it always cleaned it to the point where it would tin. I guess sometimes I would have to turn it off, let it cool, brush the gunk off, and retry tinning/brushing under heat. Pretty funny about your flux. I've done a lot of wire tinning and that really is a lifetime supply - or as you pointed out, that much flux will outlast society as we know it.
SWV1787 dchall87 years ago
I have a similar size can of flux but it foes by fast if your using a torch to solder copper pipes, like for water pipes that burst from people not winterizing their homes before going away for a vacation.