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Tinned my soldering iron, now it wont work? Answered

Hi there. I recently read an instructable on here on how to solder (rather, read through several) and all of them mentioned that it was imperative to tin the tip of your soldering iron. So I took out my trusty butane soldering iron, and tinned it with a layer of solder so thin, I can't see a thickness to it, and can only tell it's there because it's shinier than the tip of the soldering iron. My problem, is now the tip doesn't appear to get hot enough to melt solder (?!), as no matter how long I hold it directly on a piece of solder, it never actually seems to melt. I tried brushing the tip with some sandpaper (while cold) and a diamond drill bit (gently! while hot) to try and remove some of the solder from it, but to no avail. I can no longer solder anything. Any suggestions on what I'm doing wrong or how I could fix this? Thanks, Adam


If your soldering iron has a removable tip (screw in) I would take a pair of pliers when it's on and tighten it up as I've seen this before where I tried to solder something and it wasn't melting the solder all that well and I noticed the tip was loose and that fixed it, tight connections are everything. -Punk


10 years ago

My guess would be that one doesn't have anything to do with the other - and/or you misinterpreted the tinning instructions and did something significantly different from what you were supposed to do. If this was a "trusty" soldering iron, chances are it already had enough solder on the tip from day-to-day use. Tinning is mainly recommended for a brand new iron, and you don't really use any more solder than you might get on your tip accidentally anyway - although perhaps a bit more carefully distributed over the surface of the tip. Did you leave your soldering iron on for much longer than normal while tinning? If so, perhaps something melted/distorted/burned out? Did any of the air/exhaust vents for the butane burner get plugged? Does the burned hiss differently than usual when it's on? Is you butane running low?

Here's another possible "Doh!" explanation: Did you recently change what type of solder you use? Maybe you accidentally grabbed a roll of the high-temperature stuff...

You got it, sort of -.- I have 3 rolls of really cheap solder. I grabbed another one of the rolls and started using it, and it's working fine now, whereas the old roll _still_ refuses_ to melt properly. So I guess it's just a case of a bad roll of solder and some unfortunate timing. Thanks for all the good suggestions guys!

does that "really cheap" solder happen to be solid core ?

Common solder has a melting range of 180 to 190 °C (360 to 370 °F), but that is the heat IT must obtain to in order to melt. It seems odd to me that a tinned point would cause solder to "not" melt, as tinning helps in both the transfer of heat, and in keeping the tip "clean" and oxide free (again, making heat transfer better. You didn't get any in the area where the butane flame occurs did you? Limiting the heat from the iron may be caused by that.

Sorry, that 1200C is for the torch part, with the soldering tip, it can get up to 400C... probably not getting hot enough, then?

try putting your tip in some flux for a fraction of a second, then immediatly (within a couple of seconds) put some solder one the tip, so much that it forms a big blob. Start rotating the soldering iron so that the blob leaves a solder trail on the whole tip. Then wipe of on a sponge.

Not 100% sure of the brand, but it's a butance soldering iron, so it has no wattage. The package says it will get up to 1200C (2200F), though, and I left it on for a good 25 minutes, which should be more than enough time for it to heat up.


10 years ago

What brand of soldering iron are you using and what wattage?