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how do i make sure i dont destroy my new soldering iron?

i did my first bit of soldering 'tother day using a cheap iron i got from lidl and one of those stainless steel scourers (you know - the ones made from metal shavings) to clean it...and i must admit, the tip has seen better days.

i was using the scourer as ive seen lots of copper and brass equivalents being sold as an alternative to the sponge + water technique as they dont cool the tip down... it worked a treat but the tip is now bright silver and a different shape...was this a bad idea?

i ask as i'm going to replace my iron tommorrow with a 25w antex version from maplin due to the fact that my old versions tip kept unscrewing itself and didnt have very good heat transfer (i had to leave it in place far too long which allowed heat to spread to the plastic on the board and warp it) and frankly i'd really like it to survive more than one use.

any idea's peeps?

dom

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i gotta say peeps (especially to fellow beginners) BUY A DECENT IRON!!!

today i used my decent one for the first time and jumped from absolute beginner to semi pro in the space of ten minutes...it was amazing the difference a decent piece of kit made (also using 0.7mm rosin cored solder helped too).

my confidence jumped so much i was able to put all the extra pins on my picaxe PCB and the end result under my old microscope slide magnifying glass was exactly the same as those you see on all the decent youtube vids.

i am officially a happy bunny

btw - by decent i mean the 25w flat tipped antex from maplin for about £20 (not some £100 soldering station) - the heat transfer working properly made all the difference (ie from core to tip to pin to solder)

not a single comment about the brass shavings makes me think they are probably best avoided then.

i have seen a whole bunch of youtube vids on the subject...but its always the little details that catch you out

I think the brass sponge are even better than the wet sponge. The pros at the company one floor below mine uses them, I have seen. And I'm dead sure they use the best they can find. I learned to use the wet sponge when I went to school, some 25 years ago, and now it's just a habit...

but i should make sure i use brass or copper profesional types and not steel scourers i found in a pound shop

Again pound shop works for me, i bought mine for less than 1 euro in a supermarket and stuffed it into a small tin (with a lid even)....

..... just look for the Gold-like type...... my guess is they are brass shavings anyways......

i'll keep an eye out then

I use them, and I think Ignoblegnome does from what I remember from one of his videos.

I got a 40W Weller solder iron when I was in high school, about 15 years ago. Still using the original tip, and I have soldered a couple of kilos of solder tin :) I use a wet sponge only occasionally and always put a lot of solder on the point when I turn it off. Don't leave it on when not using it for more then 10min. At school I saw a lot of burned tips from leaving it on to long when not using it.

Well, I use the wet sponge too, it's a bit old school but it works. It doesn't have to be soaked, just wet. And to make it a little silly, i prefer "nature sponges", the plant thingies. They handle the heat better than the cheap synthetic foam stuff you would otherwise use. Unless you go frenzy and buy an expensive Weller type of sponge, they can take quite a lot of heat without melting.

Simply give the solder tip a quick wipe on the sponge right before each solder, and remember to "over solder" the tip before turning it off.

 

I have a 25w antex and it works well for me.... just remember to get a thin tip... the one applied as standard is a little to large when smds have to besoldered. Mine is 3 years plus and still like brand new and I use a metalscourer to boot.