When I was younger, the tip of my soldering iron was always pitted and eaten away. It is difficult to solder with a damaged tip. I have since learned some techniques from pros that will help you keep your soldering iron tip in mint condition.
Tips corrode because of oxidation. This is the same process that causes rust to form on things made from iron or steel. Oxidation is greatly accelerated with higher temperatures, especially soldering temperatures.
Here are two tips to prevent excessive corrosion and maximize the life of your soldering iron tip.
Keep your heat low. You can do this by:
- Turning off your soldering iron when not in active use.
- Use a temperature controlled solder station to keep the temperature low and constant.
Keep oxygen away from the tip. You can do this by keeping fresh solder on the tip when not in use. The photos show (in order):
- Tip with old solder and poor coverage
- Freshly cleaned tip - ready for use
- Newly applied solder - tip is not ready for standby
- Keep your heat low; turn off when not being actively used.
- After each actual use, coat the tip with fresh solder before putting back into its holder.