How To Clean & Maintain Your Iron

The following guide will advise you on how to care properly for your soldering iron, offerings tips on the best ways to clean and maintain your iron.

Taking good care of your iron is very simple and can be done quickly with little fuss.

Benefits

A clean, well-maintained soldering iron will result in a longer iron life and a cleaner solder. Cleaning your tips will ensure that any accumulated oxides, dust and dirt are removed, andtaking good care of your iron will ensure years of flawless service.

Cleaning

If you work on electronics or wiring projects you will know the importance of having a clean soldering iron.

One of the most common apparatus used in cleaning a soldering iron is a simple, tip cleaning sponge. Sponges allow you to wipe off any excess solder, dirt or oxides as you work, but be aware that constantly wiping your iron on a wet sponge can sometimes lead to ‘shocking’ the tip. This occurs because the tip temperature rapidly rises and falls as soon as it touches the cool sponge, leading to increased stress and metal fatigue.

You could also use wire-cleaning pads to gently remove surface stains, contaminants and rust.

Avoid using abrasive materials, or dipping the tip in flux in order to get your iron clean, as this could prove corrosive.

Tinning

Once you have cleaned your soldering iron, it is advised that you supply the tip with a fresh coat of ’tinning’. This will protect your iron, remove oxides and prevent rust.

Tip Cleaner/Tinner provides an easy and effective method of re-tinning and cleaning iron tips. Simply heat your iron up, and wipe the oxidized tip into the paste for a few seconds until the bright tinning surrounds the working end of the tip.

Care Tips

  • Operate your iron at the lowest temperature possible. The hotter it gets, the more it will oxidise and wear out
  • Avoid the ‘drag solder’ technique
  • Use lead based solder if possible
  • Avoid dropping or banging the iron
  • Keep your iron clean as you work
  • Plug your iron into the correct type of outlet, and try not to use an extension
  • If you are not using your iron do not leave it ‘idle’ at operating temperature. Always unplug until you are ready to use it again
  • Your tip should appear bright and shiny, never black or pitted.
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