Let us begin by understanding what soldering is all about. When the conclusive joining of two or more electrical components is the desired result, soldering is often the first choice. Quite different from welding, where very high temperatures create permanent bonds to withstand stress; soldering uses lower temperatures to fuse electrical components.
Unlike welding, where heating of base metals occurs at high temperatures, soldering does not heat base metals but rather heats a filler metal at comparatively lower degrees to combine the materials. Brazing is perhaps the most similar technique to soldering, with the main difference being that, like welding, it also works at very high temperatures.
We will look at the topic of what is the average temperature of a heated soldering iron below.
Why is Solder Melting Temperature Important?
By definition, a melting point is the temperature at which a solid material changes into a liquid state. As such, temperature dictates which materials solders can use to fuse electrical components. Comprising of dozens of alloy compositions, the average temperature of a heated soldering iron can be anywhere between 90°C and 400°C.
More traditional solder is a mixture of 60% tin and 40% lead to creating an alloy that melts at roughly 200°C. A more modern, lead-free alloy primarily comprising of tin, is today more widely used. This type of solder has a melting temperature of roughly 220°C.
Owing to its toxicity, we do not encourage the use of lead solders. Studies have shown that depending on the amount of lead one is exposed to, harmful health effects can range from mild symptoms such as headaches and nausea, to more serious complications like sterility. If you must use lead-based solders, always remember to do your soldering in a well-ventilated space to minimize inhalation.
Preparing to Solder; Tips for Safer Soldering
Safe soldering requires patience and skill. The high temperatures of the soldering gun and melted solder combined with the fumes and particles emitted can create serious burns, respiratory complications, or accidental ignition of combustible materials.
Below is a soldering safety first checklist to keep you safe while you work.
- Soldiering Iron Caution
- The soldering iron can get extremely hot. Under no circumstance should you handle its business end with your bare hands. Should it slip or fall while you work, always ensure you have gloves on before you attempt to pick it up. Secondly, always return the soldering iron to the stand when not in use.
- Whenever the soldering iron is not in use, always remember to turn it off, unplug it and place it on a resting/cooling plate.
- As the solder melts, it takes on a liquid state, which means it will run. Hot solder in motion can seep through spaces and cause burns. It is very important to wear protective gloves throughout the soldering process.
- Wear Safety Glasses. As soldering occurs, intense heat and lose particles can find their way to your eyes. It is important to cover them with a good pair of safety glasses to avoid injury.
- In addition to safety glasses and gloves, it is good to wear long-sleeved clothing to minimize the risk of injury by covering exposed parts of your skin.
- Always keep a first aid kit nearby. Sometimes, as careful as w try to be, some accidents are unavoidable. Should you experience a burn or small injury, having some gauze, cream, and water handy will greatly help.
- For more serious injuries, immediately seek medical assistance.
- Working with high-temperature tools means there is always the risk of fire. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Never solder live wires. Always ensure that they are not connected to power before you begin.
- Finally, always ensure that your working environment has adequate ventilation, a clear exit, and free of unnecessary risk posing items.
You must remember to keep everything clean even as you work. Impurities on the soldering iron will stop its proper functioning.
- Keep a cleaning sponge handy and always ensure that it is wet to be able to cool the iron rapidly.
- Always keep your workstation neat, clean, and clear of debris and clutter. Lastly, remember to wash your hands thoroughly when finished soldering. As mentioned before, lead and other chemicals can be harmful to your health.
You Are Now Ready to Solder
- Like how you would hold a writing pencil, hold the gun in your hand, remembering to avoid the tip.
- Next, bring the soldering iron onto the joints you want to fuse, making contact with both the track and component lead.
- Holding the soldering tip over the joint for a few seconds, you can begin to feed the solder in a little at a time. Remember to apply the solder to the joint and not the base itself.
- Once the components have formed a bond, slowly remove the soldering iron and allow the join to set before moving the board.
- Inspect the joint to confirm that it has formed a solid bond.
Special Component Care
Some components require special care when soldering to avoid damaging the circuit board or appliance. Wire links between points on the board, for example, are made with coated single core wire, which will need stripping. With electronics getting more and more miniature, today’s components are a lot more vulnerable to damage.
ESD-sensitive electronics are yet another modern-day soldering challenge. Lighting fluctuations caused by soldering can damage these devices. Working with sensitive components and circuit boards requires extra care.
To minimize the risk of accidental discharge caused by the different electric currents, equalization or neutralization is most helpful. Equipping your workstation with an anti-static mat and grounding will go a long way in reducing the risk of damaging special components.
Now you know everything about how to determine the average temperature of a heated soldering iron. Solder melting characteristics remain the key factor in determining which solder alloy to use. Whatever the nature of your soldering job is; the right tool, correct alloy, and optimum gun temperature will ensure that your fix is professional and durable.
As with any job that involves high-temperature environments and tools, remember to consider your safety and that of others as your utmost priority.