Desoldering Components With Rubbing Alcohol

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Posted in TechnologySoldering

Introduction: Desoldering Components With Rubbing Alcohol

About: I am currently a Junior in high school involved in theater and I am constantly playing with my arduino and love to mod things around the house

    I've heard the saying before that when theirs a need there's a solution. its the same here i have a need to desolder a box of pcb's and not an easy way to desolder in bulk  without a neck-ach. so in this instructable i'm going to show you a new way to desolder that almost anyone can do.
edit:
         ​This should be done in a well ventilated area and protective gear worn while doing this so you don't burn yourself or cause a fire.

edit #2:
          this is purely informational and i do not have any other ways to desolder surface-mount components easily and i wanted a cheep way to do this.also to put your concerns at rest i dont know if the components are unuseable or not most end up as keychains or refrigerator magnets.lastly i dont want to use an oven because the fumes from the PCB(Printed Circuit Board) could be harmful and cook into what ever gets baked in that oven.

Step 1: Materials

most people have these if not it will cost you about 5 bucks at most.
  • tin lid (if you don't have one than use something non-flammable and wont melt)
  • pcb's (kind of necessary to be able to desolder)
  • 70% rubbing alcohol  (you can get it for $2 at dollar general or a pharmacy)
  • pliers (you dont want to get burned)
  • ignition source(matches, a spark, jacobs ladder, whatever floats your boat  :)

Step 2: Light

pour a fair amount of rubbing alcohol in the tin and light it if you use a spark like i did you cant have the probes below the surface or the spark will not light a fire and you'l get alcohol all over you. another thought you could use just about any fuel i think just be careful i am not responsible for you hurting yourself.

also do this outside or in a well ventilated area i did mine in the fireplace.

Step 3: Desolder

grip the pcb of your choice in a a pair of pliers and hold it close to the flame .try not to putout the fire.
hold it over the flame until you see solder starting to melt once that happens remove it from the flame and smack it upside down on the floor or on the side of a box to dislodge the components

you may need to repeat this several times
so thats that a new way to desolder pcbs
if you have any comments, criticisms, or questions please leave them in the comments or pm me.

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    76 Comments

    for single chip removal, I use a spring board under the chip and small pencil torch to heat up the pins quickly, .

    2 replies

    I'm not familiar with the term "spring board". Could you provide specific details? Thanx.

    Its a simple piece of thin metal, about 1/2" wide by 6" long, usually made from stainless still, there's a bend of about 20 degrees 1" from one end, this is the end that is inserted under the chip, you press down the long side to keep the chip under tension to pull up and start heating the pins.

    This is a novel idea, but it has some safety risks. If someone is holding the circuit board above a flaming bowl of alcohol and the board slips from their grasp, they could splash fire all over themselves!

    A safer and a much more controlled method would be to use your oven. Preheat the oven to 380 degrees F, then bake the board on an cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil for about nine minutes. The solder will melt, and you can either whack them all off like you mentioned, or use tweezers to pluck a specific component.

    3 replies

    umm some pple will want to cook in thier oven again ok.

    I won't put PCBs (with unknown solvents, plasticizers, combustion products) into an oven I cook food with.

    The OP's method has the advantage of speed (less damage to chips), and is an excellent way to harvest and reuse chips - especially if the boards are free and you can test before using in your own circuit.

    Or get a gas flame. I agree that doing with alcohol is dangerous because of the risk of splashing.

    Any problems with soot buildup? Usually holding stuff over an open flame is a good way to get stuff all black and sooty.

    3 replies

    Incomplete combustion and the resulting soot occurs with wood, rubber, wax, etc.
    Burning alcohol doesn't produce mentionable soot.

    as long as its alcohol and water. any thing else it will soot up.

    a small problem but most of it washes off afterwords. most pcbs i desolder are onesided

    you should look into a solder pot... wouldn't be that much of a hassle and would save your pcbs and other components.

    1 reply

    or a heat gun would would as well.

    A simple solution. Great!

    Is this method ESD-safe? LOL

    the thing is you can damage the components also with the flame.

    Why not just get an alcohol lamp for 6 bucks?

    http://www.sciencecompany.com/Angular-Alcohol-Burner-120ml-P16029C689.aspx

    Save yourself from peril.

    3 replies

    i am 15 and have verry little money

    The day you wish to trade your youth and exuberance for my wisdom, experience and decrepitude, let me know.