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Soldering Iron Catalyst

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by Addyp, May 6, 2016.

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  1. Addyp


    May 6, 2016

    I was just wondering if anybody knew what material was used as a catalyst inside a soldering tip

    basically I had a look at one of my tips and it doesnt glow like it used to,evidently the catalyst has either burned away or been expended. its a metal tip with mesh and inside the mesh there seems to be a small ammount of wire wool looking substance, im guessing this is the catalyst for the butane..

    now rather than buying new tips, i thought it would be simply cheaper to source the substance if available, and just replace the mesh..

    there seems to be only a tiny ammount in there, not sure if this is because its spent or its originally small

    Anybody had any experience with this? are there any other things that you can replace it with.

    thanks in advance.
  2. Colin Mitchell

    Colin Mitchell

    Aug 31, 2014
    Generally it is Platinum.
  3. duke37


    Jan 9, 2011
    My soldering irons use a heater to heat a rod of copper.

    The self igniting torches use platinum as a catalyst which is also used in the exhausts of cars.
    Do not put any platinum near a lead acid battery.
  4. Addyp


    May 6, 2016
    thanks for the replies, i was just thinking the same thing after i read the first comment earlier, could you crush up some platinum out of a car catalyic converter and use that? would that work... also i did some hunting around and zippo do a hand warmer which has a catylist burner and you can get three 1cm x 3cm replacement catalyst pads for under £5 off a well known auction site

    now if those pads will run on butane instead of zippo fluid then that would be a nice investment, as the soldering iron i have only takes a small ammount, i could replace my tip over 5 times with just one of those pads!
  5. ChosunOne


    Jun 20, 2010
    'Fraid not. Many years ago I invested in a carbide circular saw blade to cut open a catalytic converter and what I found inside were a collection of ceramic-type porous pellets. What platinum/palladium there was, wasn't in the form of nice accessible wires or mesh--when I researched it, I found that it was somehow deposited as a coating on the porous insides of those pellets, and there was darned little of it spread very thin, mostly on the porous insides of several pounds/kilograms of pellets.

    Just cutting the converter housing open to get at the pellets was more trouble than it was worth and I have no idea how you would extract what platinum/palladium is there from the pellets--my guess is that it's a complex enough process, just judging from the fact that old catalytic converters are guarded less than scrap copper. You aren't the first person to think of recovering platinum from converters.

    My somewhat educated guess is that you would do better buying the catalyst wire.
    Last edited: May 7, 2016
  6. duke37


    Jan 9, 2011
    Chop a bit off your tiara. :)

    I would guess that the wire is something cheap, plated with a very thin layer of platinum. Surface area is required.
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