A soldering iron can be an extremely useful tool in the repair and creation of electronic devices or mending metallic objects. Soldering irons can be used for a multitude of functions and come in many sizes. Most soldering iron tips are constructed of copper and have an iron-plating. The copper is a conductor which allows the tip of the iron to get hot and conduct the heat to melt the soldering compound. Maintaining and cleaning a soldering iron is vitally important to increase its longevity and keep it functioning for as long as possible.
Tip 1 - Maintaining your Soldering Iron
Proper use and care of your soldering gun requires excellent cleaning procedures. Tip failure can be a very common result of bad care and attention to your soldering iron. One major failure is when the tip becomes oxidized, causing it to rust. Rust will create a barrier between the soldering tip and the item being soldered, with the result being a failure to complete the task of the iron. The heat transfer reduces during oxidation and it will not conduct enough to melt the soldering compound.
Clean the tip after use, but let it cool properly first. Once it has reached a reasonable temperature use a damp cellulose sponge and wipe the tip off. Make sure the cellulose contains no sulfur. Do not hold the sponge when you undertake this. Rather, place the sponge down and rub the tip of the soldering iron onto the sponge. The main reason being that if your soldering iron is still containing too much heat you will seriously burn yourself.
Tip 2 – Steel Wool
You can rub the tip of the soldering iron with steel wool or a Brillo pad. You can dampen it somewhat but keep any water drips away from the electrics. Rub the pad gently over the tip of the soldering iron to take away any surfaces stains, rust or coloring. Clean it down to a fins shiny finish.
Tip 3 – Wet and Dry
This is not highly recommended but in the event that you do not have steel wool or a Brillo pad available you can dampen down some wet and dry sand paper. Make sure it is the finest grade (600+) possible because you are not setting out to scar the metal or remove the tip plating. The idea is to clean it and leave it free to be reused safely and correctly.
Tip 4 – Tinning
Once you have cleaned your soldering iron it is always advised that you supply the tip with a clean surface of "tinning." This procedure includes adding a tiny amount of fresh solder to the tip of the soldering iron. This is reduce the speed at which rust and oxidation can accumulate on the tip and keep it in optimum condition.
Tip 5 – Tip Alloy
You can use an alloy cleaner which is applied like a polish to the tip of your soldering iron after use. It will preserver the soldering iron tip and prevent a build up of dust of oxidation. It should be lead free for safety.