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Soldering iron, leave the solder on or not?

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dr pepper

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Is it better for the iron coating of a solder iron tip to leave solder on the end when its not going to be used for while but powered up, or is it better to wipe it clean before it sits hot in its stand for a while?
Air therefore oxygen isnt going to get to the tip with solder on it, but then the stuff in the molten solder may eat it away.
 

Externet

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I would add to the document, the convenience of keeping a cold tip in a not being used, off iron, also tinned.
 

dr pepper

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Hmm interesting.
I guess tips will wear out, the other thing is not to use pants solder.
The stuff I'm using is duratool brand, so its probably eating a hole in my iron right now.
My xytronic station which has just semi retired has had pretty much the same bit in it for nearly 25 years.
 

dr pepper

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I used a weller Tcp many moons ago, that was on first thing and off when I went home, that did get bts replaced but not that many in the 5 years I used it.
Cant remember whether I left it tinned or not, thats the problem when your old enough to remember 20 odd years ago.
 

DerStrom8

Super Moderator
I always leave my irons tinned, but I still wipe it after every use. It helps even out the coating and removes excess solder. I don't like having a big blob of solder left on the tip, though I know some people who prefer it that way.
 

dr pepper

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Know what you mean, thats how you end up with manky black bits between tracks on proto boards.

The next thing I spose I should get is one of those tip cleaners that is a copper plated pan scourer glued into an ash tray, aka a tip cleaner that doesnt need water.
 

DerStrom8

Super Moderator
The next thing I spose I should get is one of those tip cleaners that is a copper plated pan scourer glued into an ash tray, aka a tip cleaner that doesnt need water.
Be careful with those. If you get a poor-quality one, or push your iron into it too roughly, it can scratch the tip leaving microscopic fissures which can't receive tin properly. This promotes burning from the inside out.

I definitely prefer the water soaked sponge type, personally.
 

JonSea

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The best tip cleaner, as shown to a co-worker at a Pace soldering seminar, is also the cheapest.

Lay two paper towels on top of each other and roll them into a tight tube. Secure the tube, which will be about half an inch in diameter, with 4 wraps of tape along its length. Cut the tube in half along its length and you have two brushes for cleaning tips. Tin your tip, and brush it off with either end of the tube for a beautful tip.
 

Ian Rogers

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The best tip cleaner, as shown to a co-worker at a Pace soldering seminar, is also the cheapest.

Lay two paper towels on top of each other and roll them into a tight tube. Secure the tube, which will be about half an inch in diameter, with 4 wraps of tape along its length. Cut the tube in half along its length and you have two brushes for cleaning tips. Tin your tip, and brush it off with either end of the tube for a beautful tip.
My Jeans..... I always use my leg to clean the iron.... The only tinning is the remnants of the last solder job..
 

shortbus=

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My Jeans..... I always use my leg to clean the iron.... The only tinning is the remnants of the last solder job..
Thats fine if wearing 100% cotton jeans. If some other type of pants the may contain polyester and then might leave a thin layer of plastic.

I prefer damp, not soaking wet paper towels. Some will say nothing wet, but those are people that know nothing of metallurgy.
 

dr pepper

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When I'm at work theres usually a rag on the bench that works well enough, but my jeans I dont think so, I'm scruffy but not that scruffy.
Oi Ian better keep that iron out of that bottle of single malt, or you'll be in trouble.
 

Ian Rogers

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Oi Ian better keep that iron out of that bottle of single malt, or you'll be in trouble.
Malt time isn't soldering time..... I have just been bought a 12 year old Macallan by one of my customers... I'll be NOWHERE near an iron tonight!!
 

Flyback

Well-Known Member
so yes, you should leave the tip blobbed up with solder....but a light tin is ok, but can you be bothered to wipe it so it is light tinned before putting it back in the holder?...just leave it blobbed....but as the doc says above, make sure that the solder does not contain a flux type which will degrade the hot tip...especially at leadfree solder temperatures.....they suggest a mildly active rosin core solder.

So, you definetely dont wipe the tip hard and thorough before putting it in the holder....it needs to be covered......but make sure that the covering doesnt degrade the tip...ie check the flux , at the temp you use, wont degrade the tip when left on it when hot in the holder.

I think this post should be pinned, it is amazing the number of highly senior engineers that say that a solder tip should be wiped totally clean and free of solder before being left hot in the holder.
The number of junior engineers i have seen being totally rifted senseless for NOT wiping the tip totally clean of solder before replacing it is ridiculous.
-But then again, is idiosynchratic of the dogma of many UK engineering co's, and why we cannot compete.
 

JimB

Super Moderator
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I am one of those (former) highly senior engineers who always cleaned his tip before putting it away.
In maintenance situations working on older equipment, the tip could get coated with all kinds of unknown gunge and clag. And we don't want that stuff baking away for who knows long before we use the iron again.

On the other hand I have never rifted (?) any senseless junior engineers, not for leaving their tips dirty anyway.

As a final point, every company where I have been an employee has either closed, gone bust or been taken over by some other company. But I suspect that this was due more to shifty bean counters and incompetent managers than idiosynchratic dogma over the use of soldering equipment.

JimB
 

Flyback

Well-Known Member
you cleaned it, but may i ask did you wipe it totally & thoroughly clean, so it had no tin whatsoever when placed back hot-in-the-holder?...i beleive you left some tin coverage.?
 

Flyback

Well-Known Member
Here’s a good uk electronics co dogma story for you then……

I went in to a job where 4 previous contractors had been unofficially “press-ganged” out of the job…..because none of them had been able to fix a not-working PCB….the PCB was a 600W current source buckboost converter. The schematic was so messy, that nobody saw that there was no open load protection, so when the pcb was powered up on no-load, its output would go into overvoltage and blow the FETs….(it was a 4 switch bukboost using LT8705)….HOWEVER, THIS happened silently as the bench power supply had overcurrent limiting, and so there was no bang………the fets were QFN type and only one person in the whole company was allowed to replace them, and he often took a week to do the replacement………leaving it behind his other jobs…..he would always go round his chums and tell them that “another dumb contractor had blown the fets up again”. That contractor would then get his tyres let down in the car park etc.

In another co, an engineer refused to take a small , simple PCB into production because it had 3 badly overpowered chip resistors, 3 badly overvoltaged ceramic caps, and a BJT/Zener/resistor linear regulator which would drop out at 12vin because the base resistor was too high value, and the pic that it supplied would just not get powered.
This product went into production and within 1 month, virtually every product of the 3000 shipped came back failed.
 
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