I found this stuff at Radioshack. Is it a useful thing to have when soldering?
+1 times three for steve and frollard.. I like this ible because it shows an average iron tip in Step 4.. A
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Yes but you don't need to use or constantly. Wipe the iron tip on a damp cloth after every few joints, and that will be all you need.
I use a sponge to clean the tip while I'm soldering but I tried to tin it with solder and it would only make a blob on the tip. Can I use this stuff to tin it?
I feel your pain... That blob is because the tip is older and badly oxidized. If scratching the oxide off with a wire brush, 'brillow pad' or other tip cleaners and immediately coating the tip with fresh solder does not fix it.. You may need a new tip. A gold plated tip does not oxidize as fast as a regular tip and you want to keep it from getting too hot in order to prolong the life. A
I just got my new iron last week and so far I've only used it for one project. I made sure to clean it with a sponge while using it but is it damaged already?
For future reference, work hard on a new tip the VERY first time you warm it up. I wipe them with a paper towel, try and tin it, wipe again, try and tin etc etc, until the tip takes solder. New tips are often varnished to stop them rusting - the varnish is the varmint that stops the tip tinning....
I can control how hot the tip is with a knob but I can't tin it. What should I set it to to tip the tip?
First time takes trial and error effort until you get it just right. Each time you start soldering what you do first is to turn the knob down 1 dot or line until one day it wont solder then turn back to a previous and if that works well mark it for reference. You need to clean your solder tip anyway you can or get a new tip.About Solder : Hospitals, the military and I Hatelead free solder it cracks, it ages it is hard to tin a tip, it is Bad News. Avoid it unless you have to sell to government protected consumers. I have been using tin-lead solder over 46 say 50 years and a few politicians have not made me ill or lead poisoned me in any way. A
It should work. Its a good idea, when a tip is so badly oxidised to wipe it gently on steel wool. Be careful, soldering iron tips are plated with iron, not made of iron. Iron doesn't dissolve in solder. Once the plating is damaged, and the copper which makes the tip is exposed, the solder dissolves the copper very rapidly. Steve
+1The tip cleaner simply has more flux and a bit of solder -- so it more aggressively cleans the tip. I really like the 'brillow pad' tip cleaners - for a previously tinned tip they work great in between joints. Wet sponge also works great.
DAMP sponge. Wet ones crack the iron plating.
BTW when a tip is finally unclean-able ... I take a metal file and file the tip down to bare copper which is a bit harder to solder tin so I use Kester soldering flux and get more life out of some of my tips. A