Soldering is a skill you should have, regardless of whether you use it in small projects or professionally. There are tools necessary for soldering, and one of them is a soldering iron. A soldering iron is a relatively small hand tool used for melting solders that join two metals.
Solder is a metal used to join the two metals. The material of the solder depends on the material of the adjacent metals joined. However, the solder should have a lower melting point compared to the adjacent metals. For the soldering iron to melt the solder, it requires heating.
This article explains what a soldering iron is, different types, and how long it takes to heat up.
So How long does it take for a soldering iron to heat up?
Well… It depends on the type of soldering iron, but generally…
Soldering Irons generally take anywhere from 30 - 90 seconds to reach their maximum temperature.
There are various uses of a soldering iron. Here are some of them.
- In roofing. When doing flashing in the roof, soldering is necessary for galvanization. The soldering irons used usually have broad tips, and heat up fast, and can be able to retain heat during windy conditions.
- Soldering of metal gutters. When installing gutters in any building, soldering is used to join the sections.
- When making stained glasses, a soldering iron is a necessity. The standard tool used in making these glasses is a soldering iron with 100watts.
- Electricians use soldering irons in fusing wires to terminals in an electrical device. This is because soldering guarantees continuity in electric power flow.
- When repairing surfaces such as metal sheets and tighten metal joints, a soldering iron is the best tool to use.
- In plumbing. When installing pipes for water distribution or water disposal, soldering is required to join these pipes.
Types of soldering irons
There are various types of soldering irons, depending on the project you are undertaking. Here are the different types of soldering irons.
1. Simple electric soldering irons
As suggested by the name, using them is quite simple. All you require is to plug them in electrical supply and wait for heating to take place. They do not have temperature control. What controls the temperature is heat loss to the surrounding. If you are doing small projects in your home, these types are recommendable for you.
2. Soldering gun
It is simple to use and mainly used in small projects. A soldering gun has a transformer that converts the 110V alternating current to a lower voltage. Additionally, it has another transformer that produces high current. The high current is responsible for heating the tip of the soldering iron.
3. Soldering station
Soldering stations consists of a power station that makes adjustments to the temperature. It also has a soldering head that has a tip, which automatically regulates the temperature. The tip also assists in maintaining the right temperature required throughout the whole process.
4. Temperature controlled soldering iron
These types of soldering irons are more advanced and have temperature sensors. The sensors monitor the temperature and ensure it remains steady. They may comprise ahead, a control base station, and a heating element. Some of these soldering irons are free-standing. The system has a thermostat on the tip of the iron. The thermostat is responsible for turning the heating element automatically on and off.
5. Soldering tweezers
These types are used in soldering and de-soldering tiny surface mount piece with two terminals. The main work of these tweezers is ensuring the melting of the solder in the right place.
6. Hot knife
This is a type of a soldering iron that has a double-edged blade situated on the heating element. The temperature of this tool can rise to 538℃, thus allowing fabric cutting without worrying about tattering.
7. Cordless soldering iron
Cordless soldering irons are relatively small irons and are heated by combusting gases, for example, butane. Alternatively, the battery can also be used in heating them.
These types are highly preferred in situations where there is no electric power or in cases where a lot of movement is involved. With cordless soldering irons, temperatures are not directly regulated.
How a soldering iron works
Before you start using your soldering iron, it is crucial to take the required safety measures. This is because soldering involves toxic substances and extreme heat, which could cause damages. It is essential to read the manual that comes with the soldering iron.
During the soldering process, the metal to be soldered has to be heated, though it does not melt. However, the soldering iron melts the solder, which acts as a ‘glue’ and joins the metal. For this process to occur, the soldering iron has to heat up to the right temperatures, and the temperature maintained throughout the whole process. The melting point of the solder should be lower than that of the metals.
There are different ways of heating the soldering iron. It can be heated electrically using a resistance coil. Alternatively, you can use a flame to heat it. When you talk about the time needed for the soldering iron to heat up, it cannot be certain that for all the types. Different types of soldering irons will take a different amount of time to heat up. Soldering iron has a part referred to as the bit.
The bit is the one that is heated and transfers that heat to the metal. A good soldering iron will take very little time to heat up, while simple soldering iron could take a longer time to heat up. Many soldering irons usually have indicators made on them to show the right temperature the tip should reach.
When it comes to soldering, you need to choose your tools well. Whichever the project you are handling, the right techniques and the right tools are essential. Therefore, when choosing your soldering iron, always put into consideration the materials available. While heating your soldering tool, ensure you do not use direct heat application. This is because controlling the heat is difficult, and direct heat can cause damage to electrical connections. When you finish your project, it is good you ensure you clean your tools thoroughly.