Once you have got the hang of soldering, you will quickly learn that desoldering is also a very important skill to have.
What is Desoldering?
In electronics, desoldering is the removal of solder or components from a circuit board, allowing you to rectify any mistakes or make repairs. In some cases it can be a crucial skill, that is even more useful than soldering itself.
In order to successfully desolder it is likely that you will need all, or a number of these tools and materials:
- Safety goggles
- Soldering iron (preferably with stand)
- Desoldering pump (aka solder sucker), or
- Heated soldering tweezers
Desoldering requires application of heat to the solder joint and removing the molten solder so that the joint may be separated.
There are two types of desoldering devices, which are:
- Vacuum pumps (solder suckers)
- Desoldering braid (desoldering wick or solder wick)
Both methods are a means to the same end, so use whichever you prefer.
You may find it handy to learn how to use both, given that one or the other may work better for a particular situation.
To begin you need to retrieve desoldering braid, and place it over the solder joint you wish to desolder. Heat your soldering iron and apply heat by pressing the soldering iron’s tip on top of the braid. It should only take a few seconds for you to start to see/feel the solder liquefy and be absorbed by the braid. Carefully lift the iron and remove the braid, and you should see that the solder has been lifted from the circuit board. If the solder is not completely removed simply repeat the process until you're satisfied.
Vacuum pumps look a bit like syringes with a spring-loaded plunger and a button to release the plunger.
To desolder, you will need a soldering iron in one hand and the vacuum pump in the other. Simply heat the joint with the iron and as the solder becomes fully liquid you will need to quickly position the device’s nozzle over the melted solder and press the button, thus creating a vacuum that sucks up the solder. Reheat the solder and repeat the process again. You will probably find it takes a few times of heating and sucking to remove all the solder.
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A good way to get a remove as much solder as you can is to combine both desoldering methods. This means that you can use vacuum pump and finish up with desoldering braid.
After you've finished you may want to clean the desoldered area to remove any leftover resin. There are a number of commercial products available for this purpose.
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