I have a soldering station which used leaded solder. I now want to switch over to lead free solder and as such I want to clean the tip.

How can I clean the tip of the soldering iron such that I can use the lead free solder with it?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Tin it, wipe it off, tin it, wipe it off. If you are facing a requirement that a few cycles of that cannot satisfy you need a new tip, if not an entirely new setup. In functional alloy-dilution terms an engineering bench that still uses leaded solder and isn't in an exempted industry will probably be going back and forth daily as items receiving prototype changes or field failure examples being worked on to understand root causes are likely to have been originally built with production-suited lead free methods. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 25 '19 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Lead-free solder needs a higher temperature than leaded. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 25 '19 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStratton, sounds like an answer. Please add it as such \$\endgroup\$ Nov 25 '19 at 21:36

In an ordinary engineering development situation of working on prototypes or other non-production items not needing to meet stringent material or longevity standards, switching solder types would (if thought about at all) typically be done by a few extra cycles of tinning and wiping the tip. As Leon points out, adjusting the iron temperature may also be needed.

If you are facing a requirement which a few cycles of such re-tinning and wiping cannot satisfy, then you need a new tip, if not an entirely new setup and workspace.

In functional terms if the decision is made to still use leaded solder at an engineering bench in an non-exempted industry where lead solder would not be permitted for production, then there's likely to be a mixing of alloys on an effectively continuous basis, since there's a reasonable chance that lead free solder was used in the initial assembly of any machine-built prototypes, and a near certainty that it was specified to be used on any production items that find their way back into the lab for failure analysis, as a basis for prototyping new ideas or versions, etc. In most cases, once something has been open on an engineering bench, it shouldn't be thought of as "product" any more anyway.


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