Introduction: How to Repair Your Worn Out Solder Tip

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At some point in time your soldering tip might not solder anymore.
The solder is dripping off the tip and doesn't really solder anything or it takes too long.
This often comes from handling the soldering iron wrong and therefore preventing the tip from getting the temperature you set on your soldering station.

Depending on what kind of solder you use determines how long your tip will last.
Especially lead-less solder is more critical than solder that contains lead. Keep that in mind.

Overheating the tip
Your soldering iron should be set to +100°C of the solders melting point.
The tip will be oxidized if you overheat it. The tip gets black and solder is not sticking to it anymore. It just drips off.

Turn off your soldering iron...
if you are not going to solder for 3-5 minutes. This prevents the tip from oxidizing. Oxidizing is accelerated by high temperatures.

Clean the tip
After every cycle and before you start to solder always clean your tip. Take either a wet sponge or wire wool.
Wire wool has the advantage of not cooling down the soldering iron too much and you don't have to wait for the iron to get its desired temperature.

This method is only appropriate for iron and copper soldering tips !
I am talking here about the "ordinary" iron and/or copper soldering tips.
This might not apply to long-life soldering tips because those will be killed in the process.
Long-life solder tips have a specialized structure where layers of chromium and other alloys protect the metal core of the soldering tip from oxidizing. Grinding of this layers makes it a shortlife tip.
So apply this method only to the above mentioned material.

Step 1:

This method is very easy and cheap. You only need fine sandpaper.
I took a 600 grain sandpaper.

Grind the oxidized tip until you see the shiny metal.

I used a vice as a base for the sandpaper. This way the tip can be grinded evenly.

Step 2: Do It !

  1. Use your third-hand and mount the grinded tip.
  2. Wrap the solder around the tip. Use pliers to keep the start of the solder at place. Don't touch the grinded tip with your hands. The fat from your fingers might contaminate the cleaned surface and the solder will drip off where you touched it.
  3. Take some pliers to tighten the windings.
  4. Install the prepared tip in your soldering iron.
  5. Heat it up to around 350°C and wait.
  6. The solder melts and should stick at the tip. If it doesn't you need to remove all solder and grind the tip again more thoroughly.
  7. Clean the tinned tip and you have a refurbished soldering tip.

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