Steps and Guidelines to Clean and Maintain the Soldering Iron
Soldering irons are a widely used tool by both enthusiast and professionals at industries for soldering and for joining pieces of metal temporarily. Soldering irons join two different pieces through the use of a solder (lead or lead-free) and provide for delicate and precise joints that serve many different purposes, and are quite useful in industries, especially in the electronics industry.
The soldering iron, pencils, and soldering station all use the soldering iron for soldering purposes. The soldering iron needs to be taken care of so that it has a long life span and is always effective towards the job flows and for soldering.
The irons come in contact with the hot metals and hence are more prone to rusting or corrosion. The tip of the soldering iron can be cleaned so that there is no build-up of metal residue and it does not get damaged over a period of time.
Cleaning the tip
It is important that the tip of the soldering iron is cool enough for cleaning. For cooling the tip, let the iron stand for a period of around 20 minutes after usage, and with no heat/electricity being supplied to it.
You can use a wet sponge to clean solder flux from the soldering tip but ensure that it is free of sulfur or cellulose and is damp enough. You can purchase a sponge free of sulfur in the market and these are specifically manufactured for cleaning the iron and its tips.
Cleaning the rust
The soldering flux and rust also need to be cleaned and in most cases, it accumulates when the iron is not cleaned regularly. You can use a steel wool pad, damp it a bit, and then scrub it gently against the tip so that the heavy stains and the rust are removed. Remember not to use the sandpaper as it can be corrosive.
The process through which the tip of the soldering iron is covered with a coat of solder is called as tinning. Always use safety goggle while tinning the soldering iron as the solder has certain chemicals that can irritate the eyes. By applying a thin coat of solder post every operation you can avoid rusting of the iron. Ensure to wash your hands before and after the process.
For tinning, you have to melt a small solder amount over the tip of the soldering iron and apply it evenly. Once the soldering iron cools sufficiently, apply the alloy cleaner on the tip in the form of a very thin layer so that oxidization and dust build-up are prevented.
You can also use a commercial tip cleaner which has the flux potent enough to remove oxidization and build-up of all kinds of dust residues. To use the commercial tip cleaner, heat the soldering iron and put it into the tin of the tip cleaner. Twist the iron and the tip slightly so that the flux spreads evenly over the tip. After sometime wipe the tip of the iron through a damp sponge.
Removing dirt and debris build-up
For removing the dirt as well as debris, remove the iron’s tip, after it has cooled. Hold the barrel and gently tap on it so that the debris is dislodged.
Keep checking your soldering iron as well as the wires for any burns, cracks, or peels to avoid any kind of accident, and do the cleaning/soldering in a well-ventilated room to avoid exposure to harmful gases.