Why Does My Soldering Iron Tip Turn Black? – How to Clean a Black Soldering Iron Tip

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Soldering is full of surprises

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How to Use a Soldering Iron

When you think you are just getting along fine, you notice that something is amiss. When that happens you have to stop what you are doing and investigate the issue. This can be a real pain as you may be on a deadline and do not have the time to stop your work.

One of the more common problems you will run into when soldering is that the tip may turn black on you. To find out why this happens and how to solve the problem just continue to read our article.

It is filled with the information and instructions you need to know about. A few minutes of your time is all that is required so you do not lose time when you are soldering.

Why does my soldering tip turn black

There are several reasons why this takes place. This is a normal event when soldering, so do not panic and think you are ruining your project or your soldering iron tip. Here are the reasons why your tip may be turning black:

  1. Oxidation– this can take place because you failed to clean the tip properly before heating it up and starting your work
  2. Carbon– a little layer of carbon has transferred to your tip and changed its color
  3. Inferior quality– your tips made be made from inferior materials that do not resist carbon or oxidation very well.
  4. Copper tip– this is a metal that may turn black very easily especially when it is not coated properly
  5. Turned on for too long– some tips will tarnish when they have been left on for a long period of time. Usually during the warming upstage.
  6. No temperature control– those cheaper irons have no way to control how hot they get. When they get too hot, the tips could turn black
800px Cleaning Soldering Iron 1

How to clean those black soldering iron tips

The good news here is that it is not the need of the world when your soldering iron tip turns black. There are a lot of solutions to rectify this problem and get you back on schedule with your work. Here are some of those solutions:

  1. Replace the tip– if you have higher quality tips lying around, take the blackened one-off and replace it with one of those
  2. Buy a new set of tips– this may be a bit expensive but having top quality tips on hand can spare you a lot of problems and avid blacking tips
  3. Turn down the heat on your soldering iron- that is if your iron has a heat control on it. If it doesn’t you may need to buy a better quality soldering iron that does
  4. Scrape the carbon off– you can use some steel wool or fine grit sandpaper here but be careful here as you may scrape off the coating or scratch the tip. If you do the tip will oxidize faster next time you turn it on.
  5. Use a damp sponge– some of the black should just wipe off very easily. Do not dip the tip into the water as that will cool it down and you will have to wait till it is hot enough again
  6. Use the iron when needed– what this means is that you should only turn the iron on when you need to use it and turn it off right away when you have finished
  7. Clean your tip thoroughly– after every use or just before you use the iron so that all the impurities are gone. Impurities will cause oxidation and blackening.
  8. Use a tip cleaner– these usually are made from ammonium chloride and should stick to the tip when used
  9. Change flux– this is a good step as some of the plumbing fluxes are too strong for the tip. Use a good electronic soldering flux instead

Using soldering iron tips

To maintain your tips and keep them in top working order here are some points to guide your use:

NumberItemDescription
#1.Use high-quality solderLow-quality solder can contain impurities that can blacken your tip
#2.Maintain ideal temperature levelsThis helps extend the life of your tips and protects them from other issues
#3.Clean your tipsThis is done before, during, and after their use. Use alcohol or a bronze brush
#4.Tin your tipsThis will stop oxidation and keep your tip from turning black
#5.Use a tip cleanerThis compound will re-activate your tip and get rid of any oxidation on it Use a bronze brush to clean it up and then re-tin the tip
#6.Storing your tipsIf not going to be used right away, lower the temperature and place it in a holder. If you won’t be using them right away clean and tin them then store in a good container that can be sealed
#7.Changing tipsLoosen the screw and pull the tip out then replace it with another one. Position the new tip correctly to avoid other tip problems
#8.Use good fluxThis helps remove the black layer but do not dip your tip into flux as the material is corrosive and can harm the tip
#9.Recycle your tipsOne company offers you a voucher if you send them your worn out and unusable tips. The voucher is for their tips though

Some final words

Seeing black on your soldering iron tips is going to be a normal sight if you use the wrong quality. Saving a few bucks on cheaper won’t help you when you have to stop your work and clean the black off.

The solutions to this problem are easy to do and once they are done you can get back to work. One way to solve this problem is to take care of your tips better and buy higher quality ones.

The right tool for the job includes spending a few extra bucks for top quality materials including the soldering iron tips. Spend a little more to make your job go easier.

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