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Old 28th January 2012, 08:49 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2008
Default soldering iron not working

I installed brand new bits and the iron heats up fine but the solder wont stick to the tip of the iron. It just rolls up into a ball and falls off. Usually what should happen is the tip should be coated with a thick blob of solder all over the surface.

I tried scratching the bit onto a brick and that actually made it worse.
What can I do? is it beyond repair?
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Old 28th January 2012, 09:29 PM   #2
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Since you have rubbed the tip against stone, it is now ruined and you'll need to replace it. It has a thin layer on top, and without that, it won't work. Only clean with a sponge, wet rag or paper. If it isn't replaceable, you can get a new soldering iron for about €5 online. They are very cheap.

I've never used a soldering iron where the solder sticks to the tip. It always rolls off like you explained. That's normal. You're supposed to apply the solder to the pcb or wire or whatever it is you're soldering on - not the actual iron. That's only used for heating up the spot. Judging from what I've read in old books, etc - things were different in the past.

Last edited by Coconuts 500; 28th January 2012 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 28th January 2012, 10:07 PM   #3
gootee is offline gootee  United States
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We always had to "tin" the tips of our soldering irons. Otherwise, they deteriorated rapidly. But I believe that it was always a thin layer, not a thick blob. A couple of years ago I bought a small can of tip tinner, at Radio Shack. After the iron is hot, I just push the tip down into the paste-like contents of the can, once, and the tip is perfectly tinned.

It wasn't really a "can"; more like a "tin", shorter than it is wide and with a top half that pulls off, i.e. similar to but much smaller than the ones that usually contain snuff, or shoe polish.

I believe it is also for cleaning the tip.

Last edited by gootee; 28th January 2012 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 28th January 2012, 10:10 PM   #4
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I believe the tip tinner stuff is just ammonium chloride mixed with powdered solder.
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Old 28th January 2012, 10:26 PM   #5
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Could be a damaged or greasy tip.

The solder should stick to the iron, I always tin mine before making a joint or set of joints as this passes heat better to the joint.

The solder also stops the air getting at the iron tip and oxidising it.
A thin layer of solder on the tip is all you need.
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Old 28th January 2012, 11:38 PM   #6
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ok so first of all what is tinning? I dont need all the details I just want to know what it does? I have seen such tip tinners in small pots. And if its a brand new tip why wont it work straight away?

When I tried using a desoldering wick on a joint, the joint wouldn't melt and the wick just stuck to the joint. This is not supposed to happen. What's wrong?
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Old 29th January 2012, 12:36 AM   #7
gootee is offline gootee  United States
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"Tinning" means "coating with a layer of solder".

Even a brand new tip should be tinned. But it should also work without tinning, at least for a little while.

Sounds like your tip wasn't hot enough.
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Old 29th January 2012, 02:09 AM   #8
tinitus is offline tinitus  Europe
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yeah, not hot enough was my thought too

and it may need a bit of 'running in', before doing serious work

my new gas iron tips did this the first time too
and I thought 'buggers, crap'
but now they are really great
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Old 29th January 2012, 03:02 AM   #9
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what kind of running in? and if it isnt getting hot enough, wouldnt that prevent the solder melting? It does melt but you have to push the solder onto the tip and then it melts quickly. I'm using lead free solder. But this isnt how I remember it to be. Usually the solder would melt instantly just by touching the iron tip, not pushing hard. And you could see that the tip has a nice coating to it.
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Old 29th January 2012, 03:28 AM   #10
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I'm using lead free solder.
That stuff is a PITA for even experienced solderers. Get some good old leaded solder.
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