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How know if solder iron has good quality tip?

Flyback

Well-Known Member
The following solder iron..

....has multiple negative reviews about the tip. How do we knoe if they are correct, or the people are just not looking after the tip correctly...or they dont know about tip cleaner?
Is a solder iron tip a single solid piece of metal with no external coating, or does it depend on an outer coating layer, and once that coating is damaged, its dead?
 

sagor1

Active Member
Better iron tips are "coated" with a harder metal to prevent "leaching" of the tip with the solder. That is, something like a pure copper tip will dissolve some copper from the tip with each application of solder, as the copper joins with the solder when hot. It is very minor in most cases, but a copper tip does wear fast if used a lot. The copper simply "disappears" into the solder over time.
A coated tip usually has a metal that resists leaching into solder, making the tip last a lot longer, often many years with intermittent use.
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
The following solder iron..

....has multiple negative reviews about the tip. How do we knoe if they are correct, or the people are just not looking after the tip correctly...or they dont know about tip cleaner?
Is a solder iron tip a single solid piece of metal with no external coating, or does it depend on an outer coating layer, and once that coating is damaged, its dead?
Why are even looking at cheap crappy soldering irons from B&Q - it's just a rubbish iron for people who don't know how to solder, and don't know any better. If you want a soldering iron then take a look at Antex, who make excellent irons with iron plated copper bits - if you don't want to splurge on a soldering station, then here's a good alternative:


I've had the older version of this for so long the name has worn off (I 'think' it was TCS50 - no W), temperature adjustment is via a small screwdriver operated pot.

Their iron plated bits last for years (mine at home is from well in last century), presumably the useless DIY one has a copper bit, and these have a VERY short life span.
 

rjenkinsgb

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I've had the older version of this for so long the name has worn off (I 'think' it was TCS50 - no W), temperature adjustment is via a small screwdriver operated pot.
+1 for the Antex, we have three of those original non-digital ones, now probably around 25 years old.

I replaced mine a couple of years ago, as the plastic at the element end was starting to crack with age and the element wobbled...

I now have the digital display version as in Nigels link, it uses the same element and bits etc. still and works very well.
 

Pommie

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I bought my Antex sometime in the early 90s, I have changed the tip once but not due to ware but I wanted a finer tip. Still as good as the day I bought it. Agree with Nigel, B&Q is not the place to buy a soldering iron.

Mike.
 

sekemiat ke

New Member
search in the local market of your country of the best available brand and purchase. What is available and good in my country might not be available in your country and also might not be good.
Thank you!
 

rherber1

New Member
The following solder iron..
This soldering iron would not be my choice for electronics work. For one thing It is a 230V iron and could be a hazard if it develops an insulation fault in the heater element. It is also not temperature controlled.

You should be looking for a low voltage (24V is typical) temperature controlled soldering iron - but these will cost more than £14. I can definitely recommend Hakko soldering stations and for your purposes you might be able to pick up a refurbished one such as this https://www.ebay.co.uk/p/14027048359?iid=165279512975&rt=nc

They are reliable, you will always be able to get spare tips, and while these are expensive, they last a long time if you use the right solder.
 

schmitt trigger

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Very good replies from everyone, I would like to add my two yen:
Follow good tip hygiene. This means cleaning often as you are soldering, but also to clean thoroughly when you power down the iron, and leave a fresh solder coat.

There is a a lot of debate whether the “waterless” cleaning brass shavings are better than a wet sponge.
I personally prefer the latter, I feel it does less harm to the tip. Your mileage may vary, though.

Lastly, don’t ever, ever attempt to clean a tip with sandpaper. There is a special place in hell for those who do.
 

rherber1

New Member
Can you explain what you mean by "the right solder"?

Mike.
Good question... Personally I am using Alpha Reliacore 15 and have sufficient to last a lifetime. It does no harm to tips and solders well on moderately tarnished component leads. Kester is also another good brand. I would not recommend a highly activated flux cored solder if you want to lengthen the life of your tips.
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Good question... Personally I am using Alpha Reliacore 15 and have sufficient to last a lifetime. It does no harm to tips and solders well on moderately tarnished component leads. Kester is also another good brand. I would not recommend a highly activated flux cored solder if you want to lengthen the life of your tips.

What do you mean by that? - you just use solder intended for electronics, no real thought required.
 

rherber1

New Member
What do you mean by that? - you just use solder intended for electronics, no real thought required.
There are some flux cored solders such as Kester 331 which are designed for electronics work but which are more active than rosin cored solder. It also leaves a residue which is conductive and must be cleaned from the finished joints with hot water within 48 hours to prevent corrosion. An activated flux solder such as this should be avoided by hobbyists unless they are familiar with the precautions required.

Most users will obtain their solder from outlets catering to electronics hobbyists and these outlets will normally stock rosin cored or lightly activated flux cored solder which will not cause accelerated tip wear in normal use.

It should also be mentioned that a liquid flux is often used in addition to the cored solder to assist in removing oxidation from stubborn joints, or to assist in joining difficult to solder metals. These fluxes are generally more corrosive and result in increased wear of the tip plating irrespective of the type of flux in the solder itself. Hakko does not recommend using chemical "tip tinners" for the same reason.

General information for maximising soldering tip life;
 
Last edited:

Flyback

Well-Known Member

rherber1

New Member
"When it says "after cleaning" that means there should be no black spots or tiny areas where clean tin is not visible on the tip. When you get it to this condition all you need to do is to melt a small amount of new solder over the tip before switching off the iron. The solder blob will cool and protect the tip from oxidation until next used. At next use when the tip is heated you then only need to wipe the solder off either on the wet sponge or brass wire coil.

Sometimes you may find that after soldering some particularly dirty joints the tip will become repellent to new solder. If cleaning on the sponge doesn't allow the flux in the solder to produce a solder blob which covers the tip uniformly then it may require some extra steps to get clean. I have a small bottle of active flux and I place a drop on a small piece of thin brass shim plate I keep for the purpose. I then place the heated soldering iron tip in the drop of flux and apply more solder and run the tip around the brass plate until a nice pool of solder has formed. This usually cleans the tip completely. It is important to then clean the tip thoroughly on the wet sponge so that no trace of the activated flux remains. I then apply a new blob of solder to the tip before switching off the iron.

In essence this procedure amounts to using a chemical tip cleaner - which Hakko don't recommend. However this should only rarely be necessary and I have not found that it unduly accelerates tip wear.
 

Inquisitive

Super Moderator
This may be a fake soldering iron :sorry:


th-4036813464.jpeg
 

Dick Cappels

Active Member
About 50 years ago, driving with the Ungar representative to or from the WESCON exhibit in San Francisco. He told me that tips wear out quickly if they are cleaned too often. Since then, I keep my tips tinned I rarely rub them to anything to clean off the dross. I also have a triac dimmer circuit so I can have the iron idle at a lower temperature. The lower idle temperature ican be lower by using a soldering tip with a heat reservoirs.
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