Step 5: Cleaning The Iron¶
You're going to notice pretty quickly that black crud starts forming on the tip of your soldering iron. Not only is this nasty looking, but it also terribly impedes the heat transfer from your iron to the component, making soldering much more difficult.
Then have at it!
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Your iron will be good as new and be much better performing.
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Method 1: Tinning With Solder¶
This is your first line of defense against oxidation. Usually just adding some solder to the tip then wiping the iron across the sponge does the trick.
Remove all alcohol before continuing to solder
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Method 2: Tinning With Tip Tinner / Cleaner¶
When tinning with solder doesn't seem to be working, now you need to take out the bigger guns. While it's essentially the same process at work as with Method 1, it uses much stronger stuff, so it does a better job.
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Method 3: Sand Paper¶
This method is a last resort. Use sparingly as it will wear away the tip of your iron pretty fast if you're not careful.
Most of the time Methods 1 and 2 are enough, but sometimes the crud can get baked on there so thick that the only way to get it off is with sandpaper.
You want a very fine grit, like 300 or higher. A sanding sponge is even easier to use because it the tip of the iron is so small.
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Gently rub around all sides of the tip until you start seeing the gunk coming off. Once it's clean, don't sand it anymore, because then you're wearing down the iron itself.
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