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Cooling soldering iron quickly after use to reduce oxidation

seanspotatobusiness

Sep 11, 2012
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In my perennial battle to stop my soldering iron tip from oxidising, after switching it off, I rub it against a block of sal ammoniac and then again on my damp sponge to cool it off. I was wondering whether anyone else is concerned about cooling their soldering iron back down after use (I was considering setting up a fan purely for the purpose of cooling the tip down after use so it doesn't oxidise). I know I can't cool it with water without damaging the plating. Does anyone else make any effort to cool the tip or am I obsessing about something trivial?
 

Tha fios agaibh

Aug 11, 2014
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Aug 11, 2014
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In my perennial battle to stop my soldering iron tip from oxidising, after switching it off, I rub it against a block of sal ammoniac and then again on my damp sponge to cool it off. I was wondering whether anyone else is concerned about cooling their soldering iron back down after use (I was considering setting up a fan purely for the purpose of cooling the tip down after use so it doesn't oxidise). I know I can't cool it with water without damaging the plating. Does anyone else make any effort to cool the tip or am I obsessing about something trivial?
I guess I'm obsessed too.
I always unplug it if I won't be using it for several minutes or longer and alway wipe the tip off good with a damp cloth. My irons never go longer than a minute or two without being cleaned off.

As far as obsessions go, its not a bad one.
 

dave9

Mar 5, 2017
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I mostly use Hakko 936 compatible iron core tips, sometimes the generic versions of them, and turn down my temp controlled station to its minimum setting if I won't be soldering anything more within the next dozen seconds or so.

Granted it has a reasonably good temperature recovery time compared to my older irons, if it didn't then I might make the time interval a few minutes instead.

If I won't be soldering within the next 5 minutes or so I turn it off. Every now and then I wipe it against a wet paper towel to clean it, with the low amount of water contact giving it a lesser thermal shock. A cleaning sponger will also have a lesser thermal shock if it's not completely saturated with water and you wipe quickly, or use the copper/brass brillo pad type cleaner.

If you are using cheap low quality tips then what you are doing may extend their lives a bit, but if you are doing that you might want to look at a soldering station that takes better tips.

Whether you are obsessing about it requires a test. With your setup, whatever it might be, don't go to those lengths and see how long the tip lasts, then asses the extra effort and distraction of doing it, against the cost of a new tip.

How fast the tip gets eaten up depends a lot on how active your flux (separate or in the solder) is. Sometimes I work with very old tarnished parts and even use plumber's zinc chloride flux and that eats up tips fast, so I do wipe that off right away. Regular low activity rosin flux, not so much.
 

KJ6EAD

Aug 13, 2011
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Aug 13, 2011
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Excessive wet wiping and rapid cooling only risk cracking the plating. @Bluejets had the right idea.

Clean the tip and enrobe it in solder when you turn it off. The solder surface acts as a sacrificial oxidant during cooling and heating. It also protects the tip from accidental impacts.
 

kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
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The iron I use is a generic temperature controlled Hakko rip-off....... it heats from cold in under 10 seconds, stays hot if you move it (movement sensor) and goes to standby if unused for more than 30 seconds and switches off if unused for longer. $30 IIRC...... (you have to provide your own PSU though - ex laptop brick in my case)

Tip wear is (almost) a thing of the past. You get more damage when USING the iron (flux erosion) than you do when it's 'cool'.
 
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