Every soldering iron is pre-tinned during the production process. Over time, however, the tip of the soldering iron is de-tinned due to several reasons, which consequently leaves the tool quite dull and rusty. This is why it is necessary to tin your soldering iron. Tinning means coating the tip with new solder (iron). When you tin your soldering iron, you get to make the most of the heating power and the soldering functions of the tool and extend its lifespan. Here’s how you can do this.
- Prepare your materials. The first thing you need to do is prepare everything you will need for the tinning process. Aside from the soldering iron itself, you will need a sponge, new solder roll, tip cleaning solution, and a soft cloth. As much as possible, bring everything to your workplace, so you don’t have to get out and fetch materials every now and then.
- Clean the tip of the soldering iron. Now that everything is ready, you can begin cleaning the soldering iron. Do this by first plugging the tool. Then, allow the soldering iron to heat up. When its temperature is already quite high, start to clean the tip using a wet sponge. Lightly sponge away the debris and solder buildup from the tip. Remember not to use any abrasive product to clean the tip. This means no sandpaper, steel wool, or even flux. When the debris and buildup have been removed, you can continue cleaning the tip using a cleaning solution. This solution often comes in paste form and has special materials to eliminate oxidized material that has accumulated at the tip. Use this solution according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- Coat the soldering iron with new solder. As soon as the tip is already clean, begin applying new solder to the tip of the soldering iron. Just tap the new solder with the tip of the soldering iron. Notice that as you do this, the solder will liquefy and cover the entire tip of the tool. Make sure there is an even coating of solder all through the tip so that the soldering iron can perform well after the tinning process. Another important reminder: Always make use of a solder that is high in tin content. This kind of solder has superior quality and will keep your soldering iron in good working order.
- Wipe excess solder off. Using a soft cloth, wipe off excess solder from the tip. The tip of your soldering iron turns shiny as you do this. And by this time, it is ready to be used again.
If the tip is excessively dirty and is almost black in color, use sal-ammoniac, also called tinning block, to clean it. Again, plug your soldering iron and allow it to reach a high temperature. When it is already hot, rub the tip of the soldering iron on sal-ammoniac. Smoke smelling of ammonia will then be released, which means the cleaning procedure is being properly done. Remember, however, that sal-ammoniac should be used sparingly. Because it is abrasive, unnecessary and excessive use might damage the tip of the soldering iron.