Soldering Tips

Back in late September we posted a blog that featured five reasons to try Alpha Telecore HF-850 solder wire. Since then, many engineers have made the transition to this model for a few reasons.

Launched in 2012, the HF-850 promised to provide a quick-wetting flux solution that performs at the highest efficiency possible while complying with IEC, JPCA and JEDEC halogen-content standards.

However, creating a fast-wetting solder wire isn’t new to the industry. There are plenty of other solder wires that come close to the wetting efficiency of the HF-850 model.

What separates it from the competition is its low level of spatter and fumes.

Why is a low-spatter feature important?

Technically flux spatter is not overly harmful to your PCBs and components. It can be easily cleaned with flux remover. But a reduced flux spatter saves you time and the nuisance of continuously cleaning your components during a soldering application.

The HF-850 is proven to leave fewer residues on PCBs than the typical solder wire, which helps the overall efficiency of an application.

Fewer Fumes = Safer Working Environment

Today’s industrial standards require fume extractors for most, if not all, soldering applications. Even with an extractor or well-ventilated lab you may be susceptible to harmful fumes from certain solder wire brands.

To achieve a low fume extraction rate, Alpha focused its efforts on formulating the HF-850 with a low halide and acid content.

What soldering applications is the HF-850 ideal for?

Alpha notes that this model of solder wire can be used for any no-clean soldering application–robotic and hand soldering–especially if the manufacturing team is looking for a halogen-free solution.

If you want to learn more about Alpha solder wire, reach out to our specialists at

Ready to order now? Check out the Alpha Telecore HF-850 today!

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Soldering Tip Shapes

While you need to choose the correct size tip for your project, it is also important to look at the shape of the tip. There are plenty of types of tips to look for, and it can be daunting to try to choose. Just like with tip size, the most important factor is making sure your tip will fit between the components on your board. After you ensure your tip will fit then you can look for the most efficient tip for your job.

Chisel Tips

Chisel tips are one of the most common types available. For most soldering jobs a chisel tip will work the best, giving you a tapered edge that can fit between most components with a flat tip that facilitates heat transfer.

Conical Tips

Shaped in a cone, these tips are perfect if your project has hard to reach places that need soldering. These tips should be used only when needed to get into small areas, as they do not have as much contact area with the component as tips with wider heads. This can lead to difficulty getting the component to heat up, making your project take longer.

Pyramid Tips

Pyramid tips are also great for small components in enclosed spaces. They also have the benefit of a flat side, making heat transfer happen faster and easier. If you are restricted in space but have enough room for a pyramid tip it can be a good alternative to a conical tip to make your project a bit easier.

Bevel/Single Flat Tips

Bevel tips are great if you want the best of both worlds from chisel and conical tips. A bevel tip is made with one flat edge and one round edge on the tip, so you can use whichever your project needs. One thing to keep in mind when getting a bevel tip, make sure both sides are the correct size for your project. Having the round and flat parts together can save money through buying less tips, but that does not work if you need two different sizes.

Blade Tips

Larger and wider than most, blade tips are great for rework applications. With soldering braid and a blade tip you can easily remove solder from multiple components at once. Blade tips can also be used for pad leveling applications.

Specialty Tips

There is a wide range of specialty tips that can be used for specific situations. Whether you need a bent tip to get around other parts, or a slotted tip to sit on your board perfectly, you can find the exact tip for your needs, even if the standard tips do not fit your project.


When looking for a soldering iron tip it is important to know your project. Measure and check the components that you are soldering and choose a solder tip that will be the correct size. Typically you want the face of the tip to be as wide as the soldering site for the best thermal transfer.

Solder Tip Shape If your tip is too narrow then it will take much longer for the component to heat up, causing longer dwell times which waste your time and potentially damage components.

If your tip is too wide then it may be less efficient in its heat transfer. When the tip is wider than the application it can resist heat transfer, leading to longer dwell times. Also if your tip is larger than the joint you are soldering then you may inadvertently heat the board as well. This can cause the board to deform or bubble, possibly leading to component failure.

The most important consideration for the size of your tip is the space you have to work. While it is best to get a tip that is the same size as your component, it does not help if your tip cannot fit. If you have space restrictions be sure to get a tip that can fit where you need to solder.

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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!


Last week we looked into why tinning your soldering tips is important to improve their life span, but that is not the only thing to keep in mind when maintaining your soldering iron. To ensure your tips are free of any oxides, you should clean them regularly. By cleaning your tips, you remove any dirt or dust that has accumulated as well as built up oxides. While you should clean your tips every time you are done using them, you should also pay particular attention to blackened tips. If your tip is turning black then that is a sign of oxidation, and you should clean your tip right away to prevent corrosion. Always make sure to re-tin your tip directly after cleaning it to help prevent oxidation.

Tip Cleaning SpongeTip cleaning sponges are one of the most common cleaning methods. While you are soldering, you can wipe the tip across a sponge to wipe off any excess solder, dirt, or oxides. However, you must be careful to always use a clean sponge. If there is dust or contaminants on the sponge, you will hurt your tip more than you will help.

When cleaning your soldering tip with a sponge, there is the concern of shocking the tip. Because the sponge is much cooler than the soldering tip, it can cause the temperature of the tip to change rapidly when they touch. This can cause the tip to contract, and can quickly wear out the tip if done too often. To minimize this shock, try wire cleaning pads, which are sturdy enough to wipe off contaminants but soft enough that they will not scratch the surface of the tip.

Another way to clean your soldering tips is to use a combination tip cleaner and tinner. Tip cleaners/tinners are chemical pastes that typically come in metal tins. When you use these items, you heat up your iron and then wipe your tip in the paste. This helps to remove oxides from the tip because cleaning the tip thoroughly when normal cleaning will not help. These tip cleaners and tinners can also be used with tip polishers to maximize their cleaning.

Lead Free Tip Tinner Do you have any more questions about cleaning your soldering tips? Leave a comment below! Also, come back next week for another article on maintaining your soldering irons.