I've just purchased my first soldering iron, an Atten 8586. The item description claims it is suitable for lead free soldering, however I have no interest in using lead-free solder at this point.

I've read through Are some soldering iron tips unsuitable for lead-free solder? and What are the different types of solder used for? however am still confused about lead vs lead-free solder.

My understanding is this (correct me if I'm wrong);

  1. Lead Free solder melts at higher temperatures
  2. This means your tips may oxidise / corrode faster (due to higher working temperatures)

Will my 'lead free' soldering iron tips be suitable for use with leaded solder?

  • \$\begingroup\$ As an aside, I've noticed some manufacturers sell the same tip in lead, and lead free configurations - this makes me think that lead free tips shouldn't be used for leaded soldering and vice versa - is this true? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 4, 2013 at 13:23
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It probably doesn't matter much as far as the tip itself goes, but you don't want to use the same unit for both types of solder in order to avoid cross-contamination. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaveTweed what is the problem with that? \$\endgroup\$
    – jippie
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 13:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this like color TV tuner cleaner? :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Phil Frost
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 13:41
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @jippie: If you're doing work that needs to pass RoHS, your processes need to be set up accordingly, and this means not using tips that have been used for leaded solder for RoHS work. If you don't care about cross-contamination, by all means, go right ahead. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 14:28

2 Answers 2


I would imagine that the only real difference would be the initial tinning on the tip.

Generally, you can use a lead-free soldering iron tip with leaded solder without issues. However, it's generally not a good idea to use a leaded solder tip with lead-free solder.

IIRC, there are issues with having lead impurities (e.g. a little tiny bit of lead) in lead-free solder causing the joint to become much more brittle then either type of solder on it's own. However, I can't find the paper on the subject at the moment.
I don't think lead-free solder contaminating a leaded-solder joint would be an issue.


"IIRC, there are issues with having lead impurities (e.g. a little tiny bit of lead) in lead-free solder causing the joint to become much more brittle then either type of solder on it's own."

This is the only part of this thread I found to carry any weight on the subject. Let me express my desire to read this paper on lead vs lead-free solder mixing.

if this paper suggests solder joints will be more brittle it raises the question of using special alloys to raise SMD from PCB's. Some are touting this as the low-cost safer occasional alternative to the removal of components like IGBT and other types of SMD from a PCB.

When the use of these solder alloys must be applied in excess for them to liquify and remain in that state long enough to remove SMD's another question is raised. What is the impact if this usage on future solder joints applied to the same area?

I find this somewhat of a wormhole as it tends to evolve and those kinds of things cannot be left unattended. If functional stability is a real issue we should make it well known. It rises to the point of protecting our reliability and ethics as electronic technicians and engineers.


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