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  • How to Clean and Tin Soldering Iron?

    December 10, 2022 8 min read

    Tinning soldering tip

    Soldering iron cleaning is a very important procedure in the electronics and electrical fields. The soldering iron is used to make a connection between different components and wires of an electronic circuit. It helps in connecting two different materials which can’t be connected by any other method. It is also used to fix small parts, like diodes and resistors, on the circuit board.

    But if the soldering iron is not properly cleaned and tinned then it may lead to many problems like poor conductivity, corrosion, etc. So, it is essential to clean and tin the soldering iron regularly so that it works efficiently.

    It is important to know how to clean and tin solder iron. Soldering Iron care is a must. You can't just leave the soldering iron on the workbench and expect it to last forever. You need to clean it after every use, tin it and store it in a safe place.

    The soldering iron tip is mainly made of copper or other metal, which helps in melting the solder. The tip should be cleaned regularly as it will help in improving its performance.

    In this guide, we will show you how to clean and tin your soldering iron.

    Why Clean a Soldering Iron?

    soldering iron

    The soldering iron is an indispensable tool for electronic repair. It can be used to solder wires, components, and even PCBs. However, the tip of a soldering iron needs to be in good condition if it is to work effectively. As such, it is important that you learn how to clean and tin your soldering iron tip.

    The main reason why you should clean your soldering iron tip is that it prevents oxidation from occurring. Oxidation occurs when air reacts with the metal surface of the tip causing it to corrode and become dull. This leads to poor heat transfer between the tip and solder which will make it harder for you to solder components successfully or even melt solder properly. Thus, cleaning and tinning your soldering iron tip will improve its performance significantly by preventing oxidation from occurring in the first place.

    There are several other reasons why you should clean your soldering iron regularly:

    • The solder will flow more easily onto the joint if there isn't any oxidation present on the tip of your tool.
    • The life span of your soldering tool will be extended if you keep it clean and free from corrosion.
    • You'll get better results with less effort, which means that you won't need to replace your tool as often as someone who doesn't take care of theirs properly.

    How to Clean a Soldering Iron?

    Cleaning a soldering iron is a very important step in the process of soldering. If you don't clean your soldering iron, it won't work as well and can damage your project.

    If you have a soldering gun that has become dirty or corroded, follow these instructions for cleaning before tinning:

    Turn off the soldering gun and allow it to cool down fully before cleaning.

    Pull back on the trigger on the front of the gun until there is no more solder coming out of it. Remove any excess solder from inside of the tip with a pair of needle nose pliers or tweezers.

    Wipe off any remaining residue with a damp rag or sponge before proceeding with cleaning and tinning the ways below.

    Use a damp sulfur-free foam

    You may clean the soldering iron by rubbing a damp cellulose sponge across its surface. Hold the pad against the soldering iron tip and spin it along the tip's axis to remove residue. The soldering iron must be turned off, and the tip must be at room temperature, for this procedure to be successful.

    Do not use any type of abrasive pad such as sandpaper as this will scratch the finish on your tip causing pitting which can become conductive after prolonged use; this can cause electrical shorts during operation which could result in damage to other components being worked on or possibly burned flesh!

    With a brass brush

    If the tip is still dirty after cleaning it with a damp sponge, use a brass brush to remove all residues from the tip of your soldering iron. This step is especially important if you use an acid-based flux in your soldering process because this type of flux leaves residues that can damage electronic components when used over time.

    Since steel bristles would quickly eat away at the nickel coating on the soldering iron tip, brass is the only acceptable material for the bristles. Because it is not hard enough to scratch the plating, brass may be used effectively.

    The iron needs to be heated to a soldering temperature. Use a lot of flux to scrape the brass brush's end until it's clean. There might be a need for many brush strokes; if so, be careful to add fresh flux between each sweep.

    Using a brass tip cleaner

    Another option is to use a brass tip cleaner in place of the soldering sponge. These cleaners are made from coils of thin brass wire that have been gently coated with rosin flux. The mechanical rubbing action of a brass tip cleaner is stronger than that of a sponge, yet it is safer for the tip.

    To use this method, first, get the iron up to soldering temperature, and then dip it in the flux pot. You may also use liquid flux, and just put a drop or two on the heated tip. Applying pressure, rub the tip several times into the wet brass sponge. This should peel down a portion of the black oxide covering, revealing the silver tip underlying. Otherwise, keep trying until it does.

    With an Infrared Sensor Tip Cleaner

    Instead of using brass wool, you may instead use infrared sensor tip cleaners for a more thorough cleaning. These tools have brass brushes that spin at high speeds to clean the end of the instrument.

    This is the easiest and fastest way to clean your soldering iron tip. Simply turn on the infrared sensor tip cleaner, place the hot iron tip into the cleaning area, and it will automatically clean the tip.

    How to Tin the Tip of a Soldering Iron?

    Clean the tip of your soldering iron. If the tip is dirty or oxidized, you will not be able to tin it. The soldering iron must be clean and free from any oxide or dirt before you apply solder to it.

    To prevent rusting, it's best to apply a small layer of solder to the tip after cleaning it. This process, known as "tinning," helps prevent the tip from corroding or oxidizing. However, several of the solder's compounds are known to cause eye irritation. Always use safety eyewear when working with solder since it can pop at any time.

    Step 1: If there is no oxidation on your soldering iron tip, proceed to the tinning stage by heating your soldering iron for about five minutes until it reaches its operating temperature.

    Step 2: Tin the tip of your soldering iron by applying a small amount of high-quality solder to it with your helping hand tool until it melts completely onto the tip of your solder iron. Once again, make sure that none of this solder goes into the handle or body of your soldering iron because this could cause an electrical short circuit.

    Using low-quality solder may save money in the short term, but it will always lead to worse problems in the long run. Heat transmission is impeded by accumulation on the tip, which might be caused by impurities in your solder.

    Step 3: Put away the Soldering Iron and/or turn off the Soldering Station. Allow this new layer of tinned solder to cool for approximately five minutes.

    Step 4: Remove the solder from the cleaning sponge or brass wool by wiping it clean.

    Step 5: Insert the Tip into a Tip Tinner of High Quality. Wait for around four to five seconds, and then remove the Iron.

    Now, your tip is ready to use for the next soldering project.



    • Never leave your soldering iron unattended while it is hot. Always unplug it from the power source when not in use.
    • Wear safety glasses whenever you are working with hot solder or flux since they can splash onto your face. Flux is corrosive (it eats away at metal) so avoid getting it on your skin or clothes too carefully. Always wear gloves when handling any kind of soldering material, even if it isn't hot at the time!
    • It is a good practice to clean the tip of your soldering iron after every use. The tip will become dirty with oxidation and may be damaged if not cleaned properly.
    • The best way to clean your soldering iron is to wipe it down with a damp cellulose sponge. Make sure that you do not get any water into the handle of the tool as this can damage it. Wipe away any excess water from the handle before plugging in and turning on your soldering iron.
    • Never use abrasive materials or cleaners on your soldering iron as this will damage the tip of your iron or cause it to rust over time.
    • Plumber's paste is sometimes suggested as an alternative to soldering-grade tip tinner in how to tin a new soldering iron instructions. However, a plumber's paste is very corrosive so copper pipes may be brazed together, thus this is a poor idea. It can drastically shorten the life of your soldering iron if you use it on the tip.

    Preventing Solder Tip Oxidation: Some Useful tips

    • The best approach to keep a solder tip from oxidizing is to cover it with a thin coating of solder. Re-solder the tip of the soldering iron every time you clean and store it. A solder with a high flux core content is ideal for preventing oxidation.
    • A clean tip is another effective method for minimizing oxidation. To clean a tip, you can use either a moist sponge or a wire cleaner. In some cases, one technique will work better than the other while working with solder.
    • If you need to clean a solder tip with a moist sponge, wait until the iron has returned to its normal setting temperature before wiping it again. This will allow the sponge's cleaning power to reach its full potential by maintaining a fluid condition in the tip material.
    • You should take care not to overheat the solder since this can also cause the tip to oxidize. The temperature at which a particular type of solder should be used depends on the intended purpose of that solder. Keeping a soldering iron's tip hotter than necessary might ruin your job and wear out the tip faster.
    • It is important to keep an eye on the temperature while switching between solder types since lead-free solder requires a higher temperature than lead-based solder.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: How often should you clean your soldering iron?

    A: You should clean your soldering iron after every use. Cleaning it after each use helps prevent oxidation from building up on the tip of your soldering iron which can cause poor electrical contact with your solder. It also prevents contamination of sensitive electronic circuitry by dirt and oil from your hands that could lead to shorts in the circuit board (which can destroy the device).

    Q: How to clean an oxidized soldering iron tip?

    You can use either fine brass wool, a soldering sponge, or a brass brush to clean your soldering iron tip. The goal is to remove any oxidation that has built up on the surface of the tip.

    Q: To what extent does tinning an iron increase its lifespan?

    A: Tinning an iron will extend its life by protecting it from oxidation. The oxidation process can be slowed down, but it cannot be stopped completely. A good rule of thumb is that the iron will last about 1/3 longer than before tinning, or roughly 10-15 years if used daily.

    Q: How do I know when to tin my soldering iron?

    A: You can tell that you need to tin your soldering iron when you notice that it takes longer than usual to heat up or if it doesn't seem to be transferring heat properly on the workpiece during soldering. The easiest way to tell if your tip needs tinning is by looking at it under a microscope after heating up. If there is still visible oxidation on the tip, then you should consider tinning it.

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