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Soldering Help? Answered

So i recently got a 40 watt weller soldering iron. This is my first soldering iron ever, and i have watched many instructional videos and tips on how to use it. I had a bit of trouble tinning the tip but i got the hang of it. I am using Rosin Core Solder btw. Today i went to go practice my soldering a bit, so i plugged in my soldering iron and waited for it to heat up.

Once i heated it up i got a damp sponge and i wiped off the old solder. IIRC i wiped it off and then tryed to tin the tip again, but i saw my tip has turned black. I tried to tin it, but the solder just turned into a ball and rolled off the tip, as if the tip was oil and the solder was water. I tried taking off what i presumed was oxidation by cleaning it with the sponge, mr. cleans magic eraser, and my last resort was a nail filer. MR cleans magic eraser turned the oxidation a grayish blue, but the nail filer was the only thing that took off all the oxidation. (i know that any sort of abrasive thing shouldn't be used, but i was angry and confused). I felt pretty happy, but as soon as i put solder on the tip, the tip immediately turned black and the solder rolled off again, making tinning impossible.

I tried re tinning my spare chisel tip too and it wasnt so bad, but the solder just rolled off too. Now all i have left is a tinned "mini chisel" tip that im scared to use because i dont want to mess up what i have left.

Is there something im doing wrong? I could really use some help.


Yea that happens.

Soldering iron's can be a pain.

Don't wipe it with any thing but a soft brass brush.

I gave up on the never use an abrasive on them years ago.

I do my first tinning as you described then to make the first tip last longer on the following tinning's I heat the soldering iron up add solder and just shake it to remove the old solder.

There seems to be a lot of paranoia regarding the breakable coating on soldering iron tips. The conundrum is the tip needs to be clean for solder to stick to it, but apparently the action of cleaning it with too much abrasion will break the delicate coating, and thus "ruin" the tip.

The approach I have come up with is a little different than most, but it works for me.

It is a two pronged attack. The first prong is to simply make my own soldering iron tips from copper wire. These tips are essentially a shaped lump of copper, so there is no coating, besides just the solder that I tin on top of it.

In my naive hope this idea of homemade soldering iron tips might catch on, I wrote an 'ible showing how I make them, here:


The pure copper tips do tend to slowly dissolve into the solder. So the second prong in my attack, is to reduce the temperature of the soldering iron a little bit by running it through a lamp dimmer. I have found this helps to slow the rate at which copper dissolves from the tip. I think somewhere in the comments to the 'ible linked above, I upped a picture of the lamp-dimmer-box I use to throttle the power to my soldering iron.

Finally, when the tip does get out of shape, I just file it back into shape. Or when too much has been lost, just replace it with another homemade tip.

Of course, for those who have found a blissful working relationship with their special factory coated soldering tips, my approach seems completely backwards and wrong. Pretty soon they'll start screaming, "NO! NO! NO! All you have to do clean the tip gently with a wet sponge."

Anyway, I think everyone who learns how solder, I mean without giving up on the art completely, everyone finds a way, a method that works for him or her.

Re-read your very well explained copper DIY solder tips.

I have found it is the Au tips that are the best soldering and clean as long as the plating lasts and have been known to nurse a tiny corner of a spade tip with an itsy_bitsy solder ball to work with on a weekend when my local store was closed.

I use several temperature adjustable ( No real feedback ) dial controlled irons of different wattage which are set to the lowest workable solder setting.

And when doing a large job cranking up the dial for the duration then back down as soon as not needed or simply turned off.

I think your soldering Kung Fu is at a level much more advanced than mine.

I will concede that, yes, the expensive tools probably are helpful/necessary for fine work, for soldering very small things, like those itsy-bitsy surface mount (SMT) components.

Which is probably why I try to avoid SMT components, if I'm going to have solder them, because I don't really have the skills for soldering things that small.


4 years ago

You can use steal wool to clean it off, or like Joe said a fine wire brush. I just do a few quick brushes while its hot in just one direction. If you use a brush be careful of where the splatter goes, it can melt holes and pits in plastic and burn paper.

I should have mentioned that about the splatter and don't get in on your pants or your in for a hot time.

Soldering iron tips come in a selection of flavours.

Some are simply copper - they may have been tinned at the factory and look silver or grey but under that they are just copper.

Some are plated with iron - These are usally magnetic so you should be able to identify them,

The iron tips you shouldn't file or you remove the iron coating, just wipe on a swet sponge

Copper tips I have never been able to get away with not filing at some point. The flux will slowly eat away the copper leaving a hollow tip, or it will burn onto the tip leaving a black hard oxide residue that needs to be filed off.

Such is life You do what you have to to get on.


4 years ago

You have to keep the tip tinned all the time.

Especially clean and tin a tip when you plan to turn the power off

I even help cool that iron after power off so it can't oxidize.

Thinner tips turn black sooner.