Quick & Easy DIY Solder Pot

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If you need to tin the ends of wires, nothing beats a solder pot. The problem is a solder pot is a pretty expensive investment. You would need to have large production requirements to justify buying one. The other issue with a solder pot is that it is somewhat dangerous when it is fired up. You need to have a nice clean workspace and exercise a lot of care when using it.

To overcome these problems, I came up with this quick and easy solder pot. It has these features:
  • It doesn't require an elaborate heating element as it uses your own soldering iron for a heat source.
  • If you have a temperature controlled station, the solder pot is also temperature controlled.
  • It is just big enough to tin wires, so it is safe to use on a crowded desk.
  • As added protection, the small amount of solder quickly solidifies when done using, minimizing the chances of spilling.
You can see what it and the set-up looks like in the photos shown. The video demonstrates its use.

Here are the details:

Making it:
  • Buy a soldering iron holder or make some means of holding your soldering iron as shown in the photo.
  • Using Air-Dry Clay (you can buy it from Walmart or a craft store - it is very cheap), mold a crucible with a dent just big enough for your soldering iron tip and room enough for dipping wires.
  • Let it dry for a day or two. You now have a fully cured ceramic pot.
  • Add solder scrapings from your solder station's sponge and melt it with your heated iron. Add more solder if needed.
Usage tips:
  • For just dipping wires, you don't need to fill it to the brim. I chose to use as little solder as possible so it would heat faster and be safer in case of upset.
  • You probably need to add some solder to your iron as you hold it to the frozen slug to improve the heat transfer until it starts to melt on its own.
  • It takes a bit of time to melt. Make sure you have good thermal contact with the iron.
  • A temperature controlled station is better than a fixed rate soldering iron since it will maintain the solder pot's temperature perfectly.
  • The surface when melted should be shiny. If it isn't dross has accumulated. Simply skim a 3x5 card across the surface to remove it.
Using it:

Tin Bare Wires
Dip your wire into some flux and then dip it into the pot for a few seconds. It will come out perfectly tinned.

Tin Magnet Wire
I had some trouble getting magnet wire to tin, but finally got results. Here are some tips:
  • First make sure you have wire that uses heat sensitive coating, that is solder-able.
  • Next, crank your heat up. I found 450 degrees C worked fairly well - hotter might be even better. I don't think the solder actually reaches anywhere near the temperature indicated on the station display.
  • You don't need flux. Just hold the wire in there until it gets shiny silver (you can remove it and check it over and over again). It may take 20 seconds or so and the wire might get pretty hot to hold (use needle nose¬† pliers if necessary).
  • Since heat stripping the insulation is pretty slow going, dip multiple wires at the same time. That will speed things up.

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    13 Discussions


    3 years ago

    But... What's the problem of soldering with only a soldering iron?


    3 years ago

    But... What's the problem of soldering with only a soldering iron?


    Reply 3 years ago

    Do you mean that it loses its flux?


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    just what properties would that be?? .. it's ability to melt? to re-harden? it's weight? color? density? resistivity?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I have a solder pot and the material stays fine inside it molten for long durations. The wave solder machine I ran was just fine too even with its 800 pound solder tank molten, and pumping all day long. So I must disagree with your claims that heated solder loses anything.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You are correct. I currently work for a board manufacture and we have to leave the wave on all the time to keep it in a molted state or it takes 24 hours to melt it again. The lead is fine and can be used over and over again.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    however by adding flux to it, usually in the form of resin, you can keep it from oxidizing which is how it loses it's properties. also by adding the flux it either reacts with the already oxidized solder to reduce it or it just pushes it aside like a surfactant.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    nice idea! i wonder though if the dullness in the solder and dark spots is caused by dirt and impurities. If so that may weaken the properties of the solder. Just a thought: what if you make the solder pot a bit more enclosed, making it harder for oxygen in the air to react with the hot iron tip and solder. Im thinking just use the same shape of clay you had, but make two holes (one on each side) and a bowl in the middle. One hole would be for the tip, the other for the wires.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Molten solder oxidizes exposed to the atmosphere. It actually turns kind of a gold color. On my solder pot I use a putty knife to skim it to remove the oxidized layer.