I seem to be going through soldering tips at a breakneck pace. Four or five hourly sessions, and it's corroded all to hell.

Does this sound about right, or is there something I should be doing differently? It's a standard 40 watt cheapo iron.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you cleaning the tip before putting it down? That an easy way to a damaged tip. Only clean the tip when you pick the iron up. When you're putting it down, make sure to leave plenty of solder on it. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf Sep 21 '10 at 8:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Running the tip too hot? I abuse my iron all ways possible but I never do that. \$\endgroup\$ – user68868 Apr 10 '15 at 19:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ You aren't using a plumbing solder are you? (acid core)... Serious comment, I've made that mistake around our maintenance shop when in a hurry and not paying attention. \$\endgroup\$ – R Drast Apr 10 '15 at 22:09

One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet is this: Whenever you are planning on not using the iron for more than about a minute, load the tip with solder. This way, the solder oxidizes in the air, instead of your tip. An unprotected tip will start to oxidize pretty quickly in air, and the longer it is allowed to do so, the worse it gets.

When you are ready to use the iron, do the following:

  • knock the solder off into a jar
  • flash the tip on a sponge (cover the sponge with a paper towel so your sponge stays clean)
  • and get to work.
  • As soon as you're done, recoat the whole working surface with solder.

Tips oxidize dramatically faster when they're too hot, so check your temperature if you can.


Tell us more specifically what kind it is.

Our Wellers were burning up from the temperature sensor malfunctioning. They use a magnetic sensor, which we think were ruined by soldering next to the big magnets of loudspeakers, so they were permanently magnetized and stayed on perpetually.

The WTCPx models use a magnet and a bit of iron allow which has its Curie point at the set temp. When the Curie temp is exceeded the magnet is no longer attracted to the alloy piece and the magnet is pulled back by a spring. This motion opens a mechanical switch. These irons will only regulate at the temp labeled on the back of the tip.



Plated tips last longer ( much longer ) than unplated. Also a thermostatically regulated tip does not overheat and eat the tip. Just a couple of tips.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a couple of tips? I guess that's better than a half dozen, but I think he would still be unhappy with going through a couple tips a session. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – akohlsmith Sep 20 '10 at 23:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, levity. We all need a bit now and then. \$\endgroup\$ – XTL Sep 25 '10 at 10:58

Some tips for maintaining your tip are in Soldering Iron Maintenance.


Two things I have experienced:

  1. The tip is dirty (like: caked-on vulcanized whatever that refuses to come off). Thermal shock (loading the tip with solder, aggressive scrubbing against a wet sponge, repeat) will help break this up, although you may also need a tip tinner (again, aggressive scrubbing). Prevent this by always cleaning and tinning the tip before turning the iron off.

  2. Pieces of the tip going away - chunks missing. The temperature of the iron is (way) too hot.


Okay, basics:

  • You have a sponge and you're using it in an OCD-like fashion right?
  • Do you have temperature control? Lower the temperature.
  • You tin the tip a little before applying it to the pad, correct?
  • Do you have a tip tinner and/or brass sponge?

protected by Olin Lathrop Apr 10 '15 at 19:44

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