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How to stop soldering iron tips from rusting?

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Travers Waker, Aug 12, 2004.

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  1. Hi.

    My soldering iron (Antex CS 18W) tips seem to get rusted and pitted after a
    while. Any (sensible) suggestions on how to stop this from happening?


  2. Joe

    Joe Guest

    Hi Travers,
    You need to keep the tips tinned and reduce the time the iron sits without
    being used.
  3. Maybe run it a tad cooler too.

    Mark L. Fergerson
  4. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    I put windup 15-minute timers on all the Metcal irons in the lab.

  5. Another solution is to use a steel plated tip. If your tip is bare
    copper, then what happens is the copper dissolves in the molten solder.
    This is why it pits.
    There are places to purchase plated tips, or you can invest in a little
    home electroplating and do it yourself.


    Sir Charles W. Shults III, K. B. B.
    Xenotech Research
  6. My Weller and Metcal irons have a 'wet sponge' to clean the tip. I
    keep the sponges clean and very wet. Most people use the iron, wipe it
    on the sponge and put it back in the holder. I was told many years ago
    this is backwards. I wipe, tin, solder, add a bit more solder to the
    tip and put it back in the stand. The idea 1s that the solder will
    oxidize while its protecting the tip. Having built a few large
    projects, I have logged about 15000 connections with a single Weller
    tip. My $0.02
  7. Kim

    Kim Guest

    Glenn and John are right (as per usual). What I have found is that I have a
    lamp dimmer in series with my Iron, so I can turn it down when not in use. I
    use the type with preset pushbuttons, mounted in a plastic case. If I keep
    the iron "Idling" at the lowest setting, then turn it up full blast, it only
    takes a minute to get it up to temp. I average about a year (about 20
    projects) per tip.I PERSONALLY have never had any luck with plated tips, and
    I really don't like them, but this is a personal taste thing.
    Also I find that at the end of the day, I lightly clean my tip with some
    FINE sandpaper, then flood it with solder, then wipe off the excess, then
    add a little bit of extra solder, without wiping (all of this done
    immediately after powering off the iron, while its cooling down). Every
    couple of days I do the same thing, but I also dunk the tip into solder
    paste after a light sanding, before flooding the tip with solder.

  8. Huh? You say you don't like plated tips, but you don't explain.

    I would never use a non-plated tip. Oh, my first iron or two from 1972
    had non-plated tips. They corroded pretty fast if I remember properly.
    In 1974, I got a Radio Shack (well it was made by Ungar) modular soldering
    iron, and I've never had tip corrosion since then. I've broken tips, when
    the iron has dropped to the floor, but I've never had to replace one
    because of corrosion.

    I once filed a plated tip, because I needed a special shape. That tip
    started corroding almost immediately.

    You don't file plated tips. The minute you file them, you remove
    the plating. On the other hand, if you don't use plated tips, you
    are doomed to do things like file or sandpaper the tips, because corrosion
    is inevitable.

  9. Clint Sharp

    Clint Sharp Guest

    I used to use a mains rated diode an a bypass switch to prolong element
    and tip life on the Antex irons (BTW, all the sleeve type tips I have
    seen for Antex irons were iron plated) I have managed to keep the tip of
    an Antex good enough to work with for so long the barrel corroded and
    fell apart first!
  10. How can you have "no luck" with plated tips? I have some tips that I
    have been using on and off for over a decade. Plated tips are without a
    doubt the best.
    But, if you are grinding, sanding, and filing your tips, then you
    deserve the "no luck" you get. You have immediately destroyed the
    life-lengthening properties of the tip. The only thing you should use to
    clean a soldering tip is a damp sponge for constant use, and maybe once a
    month you might wire brush it and then tin it again.
    If you are doing something that dirties your tip up any worse, you are
    not using it properly. If you are doing something that bends or deforms
    your tip, you are not using it properly.
    If you are doing anything other than plain soldering with minimal force
    and on clean surfaces, then you might as well revert to thick leather gloves
    to go with the glass pliers and blowtorch.


    Sir Charles W. Shults III, K. B. B.
    Xenotech Research
  11. jsmith

    jsmith Guest

    I know I will be boo'd off the stage but we have long since stopped using
    wet sponges to wipe the soldering iron tips. We use folded terrycloth wiper
    towels conveniently clipped onto a clip board. Try it before you laugh.
  12. I just use paper towel, not even damp.

    Decades ago, there was an article that suggested it, though I can't even
    remember if they say to keep it damp. It doesn't really seem to matter,
    though I suppose if one had a hot enough iron, perhaps the issue of
    keeping the sponge damp is to avoid setting it on fire.

    I just can't be bothered keeping a sponge damp, and if it's not damp,
    it tends to wear out due to burning. It's more expensive than paper towel,
    especially if using those specifically made for the soldering iron station,
    so one may feel compelled to keep it damp.

  13. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    I've heard that the thermal shock from wiping on a damp sponge is
    somehow good for the tip, or its plating or tin coating or something.
    I have no idea what it could do, but I've always used a wet wiper,
    whether sponge, rag, or paper towel.

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