Maintaining your Soldering Iron: Best Practices

by Andy on March 19, 2012

Weller Soldering Station While tip tinning and tip cleaning are both very important to keeping your soldering tips in their best shape, there are a few general “best practices” that can help contribute to the life of your tips and of your iron.

Use the Lowest Possible Temperature Setting when Soldering

This tip is especially relevant if you have a soldering iron with temperature control. When you can, it is best to use the lowest needed temperature as it slows down the rate of oxidation, reduces the thermal shock when wiping the tip on a damp sponge, and can help prevent heat damage to the components you are soldering.

Using low temperature settings on your soldering iron can also preserve the iron itself. Near the tip of most soldering irons is a heating element and as it heats up and cools down it will expand and contract. If it changes size drastically many times there is a possibility that the sleeve around the heating element could become stuck and either be too large or too small for its tips.

Use Distilled Water on Cleaning Sponges

While not entirely necessary, if you have the choice you should use distilled water on cleaning sponges. Whenever you touch a hot iron to a wet sponge some of the water will evaporate. If you are using non-distilled water then all of the minerals and contaminants in the water will be left behind, making your sponge dirty. Dirty sponges must be replaced more often as the contaminants could hurt your soldering tip.

Use the Correct Solder for your Job

Whenever you are starting a new project double check your components and solder wire and make sure they are compatible. If you use incompatible solder then you may need to overheat your iron and parts to get the job done, which can damage both. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer of the parts and solder to find out if they will work well together.

That is all for our series on maintaining your soldering irons. Have any more questions? Leave a comment below!

Previous post:

Next post: