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I accidentally left my soldering iron, an XYTronic 258, on all night last night, set to a pretty high temp setting. Today I found that the tip was all oxidized and pitted looking. I tried cleaning it, I tried re-tinning it, but to no avail. Then I tried sanding and finally filing the tip. I got down to clean metal, but solder won't stick to it any more.

Did I ruin the tip? This is for hobby use, and I don't know of any places locally that sell tips for this iron. I'd really rather not wait a week for a replacement tip.

I read on other threads here that the tip is iron coated in Copper. Is that correct?

Is there anything I can do to rejuvenate the tip, short of getting some copper sulfate and electroplating a copper coating on it? Or is even that hopeless? I have stuff I'd like to solder this evening, but the heat transfer stinks now.

I have a fixed temp Radio Shack soldering iron that this one replaced (along with a fresh tip for that one) but my memory is that it is dreadful. The tips are not interchangeable between them, either.

It looks like my iron is variable power rather than thermostatic. It sounds like what I really need is a thermostatically controlled iron. Is there a moderately priced iron my readers can recommend? (I've been doing a lot of electronics lately, using it several times a week, and do end up doing electrical/electronic soldering a few times a month even when I'm not in the middle of an electronics project.) And what should I expect to spend on a decent iron for electronics and general electrical soldering?

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marked as duplicate by Scott Seidman, JYelton, Daniel Grillo, placeholder, Leon Heller Aug 7 '14 at 18:44

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: electronics.stackexchange.com/q/51895/2028 \$\endgroup\$ – JYelton Aug 7 '14 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could get a Hakko FX-888D at Amazon for <$100 USD. Or get a cheap Tenma 21-11405 for about $40. (I'd recommend the Hakko.) \$\endgroup\$ – JYelton Aug 7 '14 at 17:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Many higher end irons will shut themselves off automatically. They detect lack of use from the power demand changes or from a magnet in the holder. \$\endgroup\$ – Spehro Pefhany Aug 7 '14 at 17:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's iron plating on copper, not copper plating on iron. I find tip tinners help extend tip life vastly. Read what others say about overuse in the other answer. See this reference from Thomas O - generally GENUINE "Multicore" brand products do the job intended. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Aug 7 '14 at 23:19
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Yes, you can re-tin the soldering iron tip. You can tip tinning compound, and dump lots of rosin core solder on it. you can also sometimes get away with lightly abrading it then immediately heat (if it's not hot already). If there was any kind of special coating on the tip, you'll lose that benefit.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Generally using an abrasive substance on the iron tip causes microscopic fissures that cause it to burn out even faster. However, if it's already badly burned, this may be your best option. Just make sure you tin it very well after cleaning it, as Scott mentioned \$\endgroup\$ – DerStrom8 Aug 7 '14 at 17:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yup, kills tip life, but let's you get to soldering right away. Using tinning compound will also eat away at the tip eventually. Eventually, you get out of letting a dry iron idle. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Aug 7 '14 at 17:19
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According to xytronic-usa the XYTronic 258 soldering iron is temperature controlled.

Tips are copper with iron coating to reduce oxidisation and corrosion by the solder. I don't know of any way to fix a tip permanently once the iron has been removed. I would buy a couple of tips so that the next time this happens it is less of a problem.

The best suggestion I have seen is get a two hour timer to switch the power off after two hours. Then you are less likely to repeat this.

I have a Xytronics and I like it.

I liked the old Weller WTCPL irons, but that needs a different tip for different soldering temperatures, which may be a real pain. However, they last for years (my brother 'borrowed' mine, maybe 30 years ago, and AFAIK, it still works)

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