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Disintegrating Soldering Iron Tip

Steelven

Jan 15, 2013
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Jan 15, 2013
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After a few hours practicing desoldering on old computer boards with a cheap RadioShack 40W (~800F) iron, I noticed the very tip started disintegrating. My preparations were instruction manual-perfect; before melting each contact I applied flux to prevent oxidation and improve wetting, and after, to clean oxidation and residue from the tip frequently, I vigorously brushed it with steel wool, which I now figure might be damaging given how abrasive it is and how thin the copper core's protective coating is. Or--without verifying with chemical calculations--I figured the strength of the flux's acid dissolved both the coating and copper, or only the copper after wool exposed it. Furthermore, from what little I've read, 600-700F of 15-25W irons are sufficient for most solder alloys. So is the flux's acid too strong when liquified; the steel wool too abrasive; the soldering iron poor quality or too hot; or a combination?

Thanks
 

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Harald Kapp

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Nov 17, 2011
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vigorously brushed it with steel wool, which I now figure might be damaging

Right, whoever gave you this tip should give you a new tip (pun intended).

When I desolder, I just add some new solder to the joint. This adds just enough flux (from the new solder's core) and some solder which makes it easier to melt the complete joint and suck up the solder or just remove the component.
Also don't clean the tip after soldering. Leave the solder on th etip as a protective layer. Clean the tip before soldering and immediately add some solder to work with a clean tool.
 

CocaCola

Apr 7, 2012
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WRONG FLUX, that is a highly corrosive flux for plumbing work and other non-electronic metal working not for soldering electronics... It will not only eat away your tip but it will eat away the components and pc board over time! It will promote oxidation like crazy, if left on anything...

Get some proper electronics flux and toss that in the tool box for plumbing only...
 

quantumtangles

Dec 19, 2012
153
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Dec 19, 2012
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Spent several happy days soldering tabbing wire onto DIY solar cells.

Broke a few solar cells even with a flattened soldering tip, and I noticed that the tip deformed quite quickly (tabbing wire sized dent kept appearing). Solution was to file the end of the tip with a metal file (after unplugging it and waiting for it to cool down). Just filed it until it was more or less flat again. This increased soldering tip life span. Eventually, got a set of replacement soldering tips from Maplin.
 
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