Tips & Tricks for Proper Care of Your Soldering Iron

It is very important to "tin" your soldering iron's tip properly before the first use, and periodically afterward so that it will be shiny and heat conductive all over the very tip. If the tip is not shiny, then its heat transfer will be poor, and you will have difficulty making good soldering joints. It's sort of like "seasoning" an iron skillet if you will.

There are several ways to tin a tip, but this method is effective and works with just solder and a damp sponge. Use caution when tinning your soldering iron; it will get very hot.

  1. Get a damp sponge, install a new tip, and plug in the iron.
  2. When the soldering iron is hot, flow a bunch of solder all over the tip so that that whole area all the way around is coated with solder. It will smoke quite a bit.
  3. With the damp sponge on a heat-resistant surface, "quench" the tip on it, rolling the entire tip around on the sponge. It will steam and hiss.
  4. For best results, repeat a second time.
  5. Your soldering iron tip should be nice and shiny. Now you are ready to solder.

After using your soldering iron, and before unplugging it, glob up the tip with solder, and leave the solder on the tip. Unplug the iron and allow to cool. This coating of solder will protect the tip from oxidation, so that the soldering iron will work well in the future.

Do not scrape the tip with a wire brush or anything abrasive, as this removes the conductive coating.