Maintaining your Soldering Iron: Tip Tinning

by Andy on February 27, 2012

While proper soldering techniques are important to form working joints, it is also necessary to maintain your iron to keep it at its peak performance. By regularly cleaning and inspecting your soldering iron, you can lengthen its lifespan as well as ensure your solder joints are free of contaminants. Today, in the first part of our solder iron maintenance series, I’ll be going over how to keep your solder tips tinned to extend their life.

Tinning your soldering tips involves coating them with a thin layer of solder. When you get a new solder tip, it is very important to tin it the first time you heat it up and always maintain that layer of solder across the tip. By tinning the tip, you prevent the iron coating from oxidizing, which is a real problem when you have hot iron tips. Oxidation can corrode your tips forcing you to replace them more often, and the hotter your iron the faster they will oxidize. Tip tinning creates a layer of solder between the air and the iron, keeping oxygen at bay.

Tip tinning also makes soldering easier. By having a tinned tip, solder wire will melt and flow better over the components that you are joining.

Even when you are not using your soldering iron, you should keep a layer of solder on the tip. Before putting your iron in storage, apply a fresh layer of solder to the tip to prevent it from corroding.

Weller Solder Tip Cleaner When you tin your soldering iron tips, you should first heat your iron. Once it gets to the proper temperature for your particular job, wipe off old solder using either a sponge or a brass wire cleaning pad. Finally, apply solder to all sides of the tip. The tip should look smooth and shiny when you are finished.

Have any questions about tip tinning? Leave a comment below and we will answer any questions you have. Also, come back next week for more soldering iron maintenance tips!

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