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I have a 48W ZD99 Solder Station. The protective coating on the iron's tip is starting to peel/break off. I believe this is due to a combination of moisture in the air where I live and incorrect care for the iron on my part. (I started using it before I knew that applying flux and tinning it would keep it in working order.) The current state of the iron's tip can be seen in the image below:

Coating coming off iron tip

The slightly lighter area is where there is still coating. If you look carefully, you can see the ragged line between the coated and uncoated areas.

I have read soldering tip issues and the answers thereto, which suggest that it's possible to get something called "tip activator" for recoating tips and that it works reliably well. Assuming that I can't buy any from the stores I usually go to, what's my next best option.

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    \$\begingroup\$ clean it with a wire brush then use flux / solder and keep it working : I have old soldering irons with old tips with no protective coating or fancy "tip activator" (which sounds like a snake oil ...) which still work fine. \$\endgroup\$
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 17, 2018 at 10:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, Mike. I'll give that a try and see if that helps. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17, 2018 at 10:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ And perhaps a gentle shape up with a file... depends if it is a cpper tip with a coating though... \$\endgroup\$
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 17, 2018 at 10:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ That looks way past the stage fixable with those activators (which are just a suspension of tiny solder droplets in a fairly aggressive flux). I'd use a brass sponge to clean the oxidation, followed immediately by the generous application of flux-core solder wire to the whole tip. Using steel wool, steel scrubbing pads, a metal file or sandpaper certainly cleans the tip, but also destroys the coating. \$\endgroup\$
    – jms
    Jun 17, 2018 at 10:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't you mean a copper tip with an iron coating? That is what is commonly used. It's best to replace the tip when the iron coating is damaged. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17, 2018 at 11:08

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I suggest cleaning it with a wire brush then use flux / solder and keep it working.

I have old soldering irons with old tips with no protective coating or fancy "tip activator" (which sounds like a snake oil ...) which still work fine.

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