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How to care for your iron

Frustrated by your soldering? Having trouble making good connections? Chances are your iron is not hot enough or its corroded. The #1 killer of soldering irons and soldering projects is oxidized/corroded tips. If the tip of the iron is oxidized it is useless, and you will only damage your project if you try to use it. Really! Don't even think about it! Much like trying to remove a stripped screw, the more you try the worse it will get. The best thing to do is replace the tip or iron, usually getting a new tip is cheaper

There are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening:

  1. Unplug the iron or turn it off when not in use. This is the biggest contributor to iron-death, if you leave a cheap iron on overnight you'll destroy the tip. (Been there, done that)
  2. Unplug the iron or turn it off when not in use.
  3. Unplug the iron or turn it off when not in use.
  4. Tin the iron with solder or "tip tinner"

As you can see, unplugging the iron or turning it off when not in use. is really important. Part of the reason people pay for better irons is that the heat up faster, so you can turn it off when not in use and flip it on 10 seconds before you want to solder

What to pay?

For the most part, soldering irons are

Pen irons

Pen irons are 'stand alone' tools, they basically have a heating element, a handle and then a plug that goes straight into the wall. They don't have a temperature control (for the most part) and take a few minutes to heat up. These are low cost, but easy to store and use.


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to store and use


  • Take a while to heat up (60 seconds)
  • Temperature can be too high or too low and difficult to determine (=ruined PCBs and parts)
  • Really need a separate stand to avoid damage or fire
  • Don't auto shutoff, no off switch (Tips have a shorter life)
  • Tips can be low quality and are prone to oxidation
  • Replacement Tips are Expensive$$ and Hard to get

If taken care of they can last a long time.

/home/ladyada/public_html/wiki/data/pages/toolselector/solderingirons.txt · Last modified: 2016/01/28 18:05 (external edit)