Talk:Soldering iron

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I am pretty sure sandpaper is very bad for electronics soldering iron tips. Maybe on a different type of iron? — Omegatron 16:21, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

You're quite right. I fixed this bit of bad advice. - Jax184 08:32, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

soldering iron tips are copper. they can be cleaned with a file, sandpaper, or solder and flux. a lot of modern tips are Iron plated/clad this keeps the solder from dissolving the copper tip. a file or sandpaper will remove the iron plating. If you have an unplated tip youll find it has craters in the copper where you use it the most. then you can use a file to shape it from a shovel or fork to a chisel or pyramid or cone. then again some sort of swaging wont remove material.

a cheap iron i have has a hollow heating element in a sheath there is a setscrew on the end of the sheath the tip is a 3/16 solid Cu rod about 6" long with a chisel on one end and a cone on the other.

the rod can be slid out further to reduce/regulate tip temperature, if the plating goes away this could be filed and shaped for years. The bubblepack it came on said to set the tip out 1" but 2 1/4 or 2 1/2" seems to be adquate for most small components on circut boards. ground planes, sheilds, large filter caps and power components may require more heat like the 1" gives.

here again this is not temperature it is heat. temperature is determined by the amount of heat transfered to the stuff you solder and the mass of those components. if you put this 30W iron in something insulated it will easly get to the 1100C that will melt the copper tip.

If you have a new iron clad tip do the initial tinning with another soldering iron. if its not tinned while the FeNi is brite and clean you will never be able to tin it without abrasive cleaning.

if the tip is not hot enuff to oxidize the iron or copper it wold not need to be cleaned since the solder will oxidize well before this. if you keep the tip clean with solder and wipe off the solder oxides with a clean damp cloth or sponge you will have a bright clean shiny liquid metal surface until oxygen hits it. if you have more tin and lead oxide than solder the iron and copper will start oxidizing.

if you have a temperature regulated soldering iron $100 instead of $5, make sure the storage hole for the tip is fairly well sealed from air. this will keep O2 away from the precious hot metal on the tip. The ventelated safety stands help keep the unregulated irons cool (when the iron isnt soldering) by allowing maximum air flow this could be achieved a lot better in a sealed hole in a large finned heat sink whereby the chamber sealed with the iron would rapidly be depleted of the oxygen. an Al tube cigars come in will fix the open spring on these usless stands on temperature regulated irons. make sure the metal on the heated part of the iron doesnt touch the tube.

there are solders that have a small percentage of copper in their composistion.

these are eutectic more conductive and dont dissolve the copper tip as quickly savabit is a brandname.

They also cost more and arent carried at the local store.

The best electric solder you are likely to find is 62/37/1 Sn/Pb/Ag it melts at 182C its eutetic its more conductive than 63/37 tin/lead alloy and its cheaper than SnAg or SnSb and it wets better on most metals and doesnt dissolve the copper tip as fast.

It may be a good idea if you can handle silver to make tips for your irons from silver, of course with a 20w pencil this will make the tip cost $.25 instead of under a penny, the extra utility, conductivity,and easier maintanance could easily justify the 30X price difference.

In any event if you keep the tip clean and tinned it will last many years.

If you keep the tip more than a few degrees above the melting point of the solder allow the solder to oxidize and dont remove and replace the oxide with clean solder your tip will last only a few days.

Petetyj 00:57, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Sandpaper is very bad for modern cartridge based tips (Brands include Hakko, JBC, Metcal and Weller). The tips are made of copper (Cu) with an Iron (Fe) plating (from 20 to 50 microns thickness on the Hakkos to all the way to 130 to 250 microns on the higher end JBCs)to extend the life of the copper (Cu) as Tin(Sn) will dissolve (Cu) very rapidly at high temperatures. The use of Iron (Fe) plating creates an additional problem as at high temperatures it oxidizes very fast as the air surrounding the tip contains oxygen (O), therefore it is essential to protect the tip with solder (any alloy will do)or use it in an inert atmosphere with a gas like nitrogen (N). Additionally, the tips have a chrome layer (Cr) to prevent the solder from wetting the entire tip and concentrate the wetting where it is needed most, at the very end.

Making a tip out of silver (Ag) would not be a good idea at all, as tin (Sn) will combine with silver (Ag) and at the higher temperatures soldering occurs, this will happen at an accelerated rate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:25, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

"I am pretty sure sandpaper is very bad for electronics soldering iron tips. Maybe on a different type of iron?"

Is bad for plated tips that don't need sanding. Once a tip is in need of sanding/grinding/filing, whether its done with sandpaper or another grinding medium makes no difference. (talk) 12:58, 2 November 2008 (UTC)


Should mention different types of temperature measurement. Magnetic sensors probably shouldn't be used near large magnets, etc. — Omegatron 16:21, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

what is a magnetic temperature sensor?
temperature sensors are bimetal or metal expansion based or
metal resistance/temperature based or thermocouple based
(magnetic sensors are great for sensing in the range of 0 to 10 deg K eg Pb senses 4.2K )
dont confuse heat and temperature in an article that must feature both
Typical soldering stations monitor TEMPERATURE using Pt rtd
Heat is measured with wattage / btu / calories
non temperature monitored soldering irons, guns, pencils, torches
are usually physically designed so that for a given wattage heating element the temperature doesnt exceed about 700F for extended periods of non use (melts most solders doesnt boil most)
soldering guns only heat when the button is pushed so max temperature is somewhere around the melting point of the heater.
a soldering station will have a much larger wattage(heat input) than a typical iron of the same physical size.
the temperature is set slightly above the melting point of the solder used.
when the workpiece is touched the controller sees the rapid temperature drop and applies enough heat to rapdily get the temperature to the setpoint.
a well designed soldering station will solder bypass caps to the power and ground planes and surface mounts components with no noticable difference in heating time
just above the melting point does the least physical damage to components.. and oxidizes the solder the least.
Petetyj 19:53, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Weller soldering irons use a magnet to complete the circuit, which becomes non-magnetic and breaks the circuit above a certain temperature. [1] Obviously such an iron should not be used near magnetic devices like motors or loudspeakers. :-) — Omegatron 15:56, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

TCP irons using the curie effect can happily be used near motors & speakers. The mag field at the temp sensor is nowhere near high enough to affect it. Tabby (talk) 20:13, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

Variable temperature[edit]

  • "Temperature can be set in the range 280°C to 480°C or 200°C to 600°C, depending upon the type of soldering process."

Would be helpful to add what the different "types" of processes are that require different temperatures. I speak from past experience as a soldering virgin - the first time I went to buy an iron I was faced with three different variable wattage and about five different fixed wattage models (from 10w up to 70w)! Even the shop assistant couldn't explain which I would need and why.....I got a gas 30w iron which works well enough for my needs (guitar electronics). -- 15:14, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

its not the process, so much as the alloy of the solder
63/37 Sn/Pb is 183C
95/5 Sn/Sb is 239C (lead free)plumbing
96/4 Sn/Ag is 221C lead free more conductive
this is the temperature where the solder flows like water
brazing ( HI temp solder / silver solder / silfloss )is 900C
copper melts at 1083C
the process / heating method / heating time must be designed to bring the parts to be joined to this temperature.
it just may happen that some of the other stuff near what you wanto solder may be damaged by heat/temperature/time.
less damage will be done with just 1 joint soldered at a time. all the stuff that doesnt like heat can be isolated. vs I want to solder al 32K joints on the board at once so i can make in in less than 10sec.
all metals this hot oxidize very easily. the hotter the worse it oxidizes, oxides are not good conductors, solder will not stick to oxides.
keep the metals to be soldered clean (Axium)
keep the solder clean.
keep the tip clean.
soldering machines or ovens may have nitrogen or CO2 filled soldering chamber.
Hydrogen is used too. Hydrogen is an excellent flux and removes oxides like magic, there is a bit of a problem if theres oxygen in the room though.
aluminum is gas welded with a hydrogen oxygen torch, far better results than TIG or MIG. its excellent for a soldering torch too. no nasty carbon in the flame to mess up stuff.
DRAWBACKS hard to see the flame, takes skill to get a reducing flame.
soldering unsoldering brazing welding is a complete mismash here
soldering = brazing = joining metals with a lower melting metal
unsoldering = heat to the solders melting point parts fall apart
welding = bringing similar metal pieces together heating and/or applying pressure until they bond.
im a newbie at this so perhaps someone who is good can fix this and put it in the approiate spots
to date ive had two Vandlism proclaimed articles. i have no idea why unless perhaps the people claiming vandalism have no idea of the subject matter.(citations? say that and copyright in the same sentence )
ive had pictures rejected because i didnt have model releases.
(im the model i claim im the model and i cant produce 2 witnesses who know im the model)
wiki is a wonderful source of reference for me
in subjects i know i try to fix bad articles and get accused of vandalism so i may need to give up until i have some sort of administrator status (catch 22)
Petetyj 22:32, 9 September 2007 (UTC)


In the article on Soldering (, the temperature ranges given for melting solder are:

   * 63/37: melts between 180-185°C
   * 60/40: melts between 183–190°C
   * 50/50: melts between 185–215°C
   * lead-free solder: melts around 250°C

While in this article, the temperature ranges given are:

   Lead-based solder uses 250°C to 280°C or 300°C
   while lead-free soldering needs a higher temperature, about 350°C to 400°C.

There is quite a substantial difference in these temperatures, unless the wrong units are used in one of the articles (Celsius/Fahrenheit), or am I missing something.

Thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jcordone (talkcontribs) 23:05, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

You'll want to use a soldering iron with a temperature somewhat above the melting point so as to ensure the joint remains properly molten despite the heat-flow out of the iron and into the parts you're soldering. The joint-temperature also needs to be sufficiently high that the solder remain molten for half a second or so after the iron has been removed, so it can flow properly. 11:55, 7 October 2007 (UTC) Andrew Steer,
See where it recommends 700 deg F (371 deg C) (talk) 12:54, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

Gun[edit] History "Other Names Soldering Gun"

A soldering gun is not the same thing as an iron. Tabby (talk) 03:26, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

They are both tools that do basically the same thing. Towel401 (talk) 22:21, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

The should be separate articles. A soldering iron provides a constant, sometimes regulated heat source. Soldering guns provide a trigger to quickly turn the heat on and off. That's a difference big enough to justify keeping the articles separate. Shootthedevgru (talk) 03:33, 19 February 2008 (UTC)
They tools aren't used for the same things. Soldering guns are generally a lot hotter than soldering irons and thus aren't used for electronics. I suggest putting soldering guns and irons in the same article but making a section specifically about soldering guns. Sjstones (talk) 03:01, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

I have added a picture of a solder gun. I recently bought one. It seems to be quite different. Should add more info when I get the hang of it. Bgrimer

Irons & guns really don't do the same thing (talk) 13:00, 2 November 2008 (UTC)


can i use heated nail instead of soldering iron —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:56, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

sure you can, but it might not be the most effective way to solder something or the safest.

Yes, in most cases - but you're introducing extra skill requirements, so you may be unsuccessful. (talk) 13:01, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Applying heat to the solder[edit]

"For best results, particularly in electrical work where good electrical contact is required, the iron should be used to heat the work piece, and solder applied to it: this helps to prevent "cold joints", where hot solder is applied by the iron to a relatively cold target, shrouding it in solder to look like a good joint, but without wetting it properly, and without forming a good connection.
If the solder is applied to the iron first then the flux is rapidly burnt off (the wispy white smoke you get from the tip of the iron) and cannot serve its purpose on the joint"

This myth is very persistent. The truth is that applying heat to the solder rather than the component leg is every bit as reliable and much quicker, but takes more skill. Its not recommended to newbies because they tend to take forever over soldering joints, and this method is simply not compatible with such poor technique.

I've been applying iron & solder to cold metalwork for decades, its still the method I use most of the time, and with suitable technique the problems mentioned above simply do not occur.

I'm well aware however that there is an army of people who've tried the method very briefly when they were beginners, didn't learn how to do it, and wrongly concluded that it can't be done successfully and reliably.

Perhaps one day I'll make a video showing the method. Tabby (talk) 13:07, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Health and Safety[edit]

As there doesn't seem to be a health and safety section here I thought I'd better start one!

Regular use of a soldering iron may cause Colophany, an increasing sensitivity to the solder/flux fumes.

Lead free solders are common now, however you may come across old solder with lead still in it.

The best advice would probably be to use fume extraction when soldering, however proper extraction can be very costly!

PlymTech (talk) 11:37, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

How it works?[edit]

How does it work? Heating element like a nichrome wire but what controls the wattage? Resistors? Transformer coil? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:32, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

In the case of a nichrome wire (JBC Irons some ERSA and Weller models), it is controlled by feedback it gets from the wire that also acts as a thermocouple (Dif. between voltage at the end of the heating element and top of the heating element. This is checked every 120 times per second (US voltage, 100 times per second in Europe) (60 times lower sine wave and 60 times at the peak of the sine wave) This difference is sent to the controller or IC and it reacts instantaneously by adding additional wattage or reducing it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:56, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

Proposed merge from soldering gun[edit]

I propose the merge of these two because both are used for soldering. I realize that soldering guns are usually hotter than irons, but they all work under the same principles; the two can have separate sections to outline the differences. After the two are merge, perhaps the article should be renamed soldering equipment. Wizard191 (talk) 21:45, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

  • Oppose: They are different tools used in different ways. Overlap in their applications may just as easily come from not having the proper tool handy, and making do. As it stands now, each page points to the other in the "See also" section. Readers will come looking for one or the other; someone looking for "Soldering equipment" might just as easily mean something like Wave soldering equipment or Reflow soldering equipment. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 04:11, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

Steel tips[edit]

"Solid iron tips are not used"

I've used an iron with a steel tip, extremely cheap piece of kit but it did the job without any difficulty. The tip was simply a sawn of nail. (Altai brand)

The downside isnt so much lack of conduction, I tihnk its more the tendency of rust on the sides of the bit next tot he element to block thermal conduction, and expand & break things. (talk) 03:24, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Types of tips[edit]

What is the name of the dual tip for SMD, in the picture? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Bethjaneway (talkcontribs) 00:29, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Tip cleaning compound[edit]

Not mentioned once in 'cleaning' section. I keep getting reverts from 'wizard'. Another point is that some faqs say that wet sponges aren't good for tips causing thermal shock. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ericg33 (talkcontribs) 08:41, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

I added the word cleaning for you. If you have a ref for not using a wet sponge, please add it, because that's good content. The stuff you were adding before wasn't. Wizard191 (talk) 16:00, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

Cutting plastic?[edit]

I have seen soldering irons used to cut plastic on many occasions. Could this me mentioned along with using them for pyrography and plastic welding? They work quite well at cutting several different types of plastic although it can ruin a good soldering iron. I knew someone who kept a spare cheap soldering iron just for cutting plastic. (talk) 21:00, 17 March 2013 (UTC)