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Situation Breakdown

I've seen multiple posts regarding this certain topic, but, using all of those posts confirmed answer, the results never showed to be significant, long lasting, or even remotely yielding results in the first place.

I have a medium duty Wellers soldering iron, and I use the iron primarily for chip boards. Now before you tell me that I should learn how to solder before doing chip boards, I'd rather learn something like electronics production while learning how to solder. With that all set aside, below is the entire soldering kit. Yes I do use aluminum, but aluminum works just fine when it comes to small scale chips.


Soldering Kit

Full Soldering Kit


As you can see, the tip that I use for soldering things such as capacitators, switches, and resistors, on a really small scale. The soldering I use here (if it's important, that is) is a "Fine Eletrical Rosin Core Solder".


Now, the real culprit is the soldering tips. The only reason I'm confused on how to fix them is because I want to say that the black stuff you can see on the cone tip, is carbon build up. I also heard that the metal used on soldering irons tips are prone to oxidation. Now what was confusing is that I've only had this iron for a week. While my dad has NEVER tinned his soldering iron, and after almost a decade it still works as if it were brand new.

At first I thought I should simply just take a sanding block and just sand off the odd deformation my iron has created, but that didn't work. So now I tried tinning the iron, but the soldering flux wouldn't stick. So I melted a pool of soldering flux, thinking that would make it stick, and submerged my soldering tip into the molten flux pool, but to no avail. Finally I tried wiping it off several times, reapplying flux to it, and it still ended up like it is now. What's worse, is now when I apply the soldering core to the tip of the iron, it doesn't even melt it.


Soldering Tips In Question

Who dun it??

I can return it, but it holds sentimental value to me, particularly because it was the first thing I used to solder with, which in my opinion, is worth holding onto, so I'd rather try and save the cores, and learn something from this, than return it and learn absolutely nothing from it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "just sand off the odd deformation" - that's probably what killed it. Just buy some new tips, keep them clean during and after use and all should be fine. \$\endgroup\$ – Roger Rowland Aug 5 '16 at 4:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hm, I was afraid so, can you elaborate a bit on how that may have killed them? I'm guessing there was a coating or something on it? \$\endgroup\$ – TheCodingKlam Aug 5 '16 at 5:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Look at the question I linked, and the answers, and also the "Related" questions on the right of that page. You'll find that this is a very common topic that has been discussed many times on this site, there is a lot of information here already. \$\endgroup\$ – Roger Rowland Aug 5 '16 at 6:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Place them in the healing bin (also known as the rubbish bin or trash can). Check on them every day. It may take a while for them to heal, so, in the mean time, order some new ones. What I have found, when doing this, is that once the new tips arrive, I forget all about the old tips. And eventually I accidentally dump them in the trash. So I can't say whether the tips in the bin ever actually heal. But I do like the new tips. \$\endgroup\$ – mkeith Aug 5 '16 at 6:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can buy "tip restorer" which does miracles but may or may not agree to do one for you. I think it is a mix of powdered/paste solder and "sal ammoniac". (or just pure SA) - which is a form of Ammonium Chloride. See here and here \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Aug 5 '16 at 16:44
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Soldering iron tips at their core are copper, but are plated in nickel and tinned.

If you sand/scrape the tip then you remove this plating and the internal copper becomes exposed and oxidises over time. Since the plating is already removed, you could keep constantly sanding back the oxidised layer, but you will be forever doing so and, like constantly sharpening a pencil, will eventually be left with nothing.
I recommend that you get a new tip for now and keep up good maintenance on it. The top answer in this question here has some really good maintenance tips.

If you are attached to your old soldering iron tip and have some spare time/feel like experimenting, you could always try to sand your old tip back to the copper layer and electroplate it yourself. I've found a video on youtube that shows how to do it yourself, normally I would say there's no point to taking so much time/cost/effort to plate it yourself but if you want to preserve it as a keepsake you could always try it.

Electroplate your own soldering iron tips - Youtube

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hm, I could always order a new tip, but the problem is, it never told me the information to actually order this specific part. The one in the middle isn't bad, and the one on the right hasn't even been touched. Any way I could retrieve, or if you know what tip that is, the information for said tip? Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – TheCodingKlam Aug 5 '16 at 7:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheCodingKlam Have you got a part number for the soldering iron? If you look up the soldering iron number you should be able to find the tips to go with it. Also I can see it's a Weller iron, if you do a search for "Weller screw in soldering tips" it might yield some results \$\endgroup\$ – Doodle Aug 5 '16 at 7:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the help so far, and I'll be sure to try that. I might try electroplating just to see how it works in the future, might be a bit of fun. \$\endgroup\$ – TheCodingKlam Aug 5 '16 at 7:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I use tips like the ones pictured. They don't have to be plated to work. I used to make my own because I had a roll of heavy guage copper wire and a tap and die set (for making screw threads.) Plated tips last longer, but the plating is thin and wears out. The tip I currently have in my iron, I filed down and hammered to a fine point. It is unplated. I can solder 0403 size SMD parts with it, easily. I have no trouble keeping it clean, but my iron is temperature regulatef, which the OPs is not. \$\endgroup\$ – JRE Aug 5 '16 at 7:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know they don't have to be plated, but it still helps with quality of the final product, and I'd rather not end up having a board I spent days on end up shorting out and frying itself because of improper soldering flux control. \$\endgroup\$ – TheCodingKlam Aug 5 '16 at 17:03

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