How do you clean the tip of your soldering iron?
If your answer is “using a wet sponge” then you need to continue reading.
Traditionally, soldering iron tips were cleaned by swiping them on a wet sponge a few times before putting them back in their holders. This would remove the oxids and other nasty contaminations from the surface of the tip. There a few problems with this method though:
- The wet sponge cools down the iron. This slows down the user (the tip needs to be heated back) and reduces the life of the tip.
- You must always keep attention to moisten the sponge but not to soak it.
- The overall efficiency of the method is not too good.
An alternative solution
A much better way to clean the tip is to use a ball of copper shavings. Copper is metal that really likes to absorb solder and the shavings simply scrape away all the dirt that accumulates on the tip over time. Using a copper ball is quite similar to the sponge, the only difference is that you kind of poke the ball a few times with the soldering iron instead of the swiping movement. The result is a clean, shiny tip that is not cooled down at all.
You can buy the copper ball on its own or with some kind of holder. These come in different designs but if you wan’t to keep it real simple and cheap you can squeeze it in a small tin as I did:
This little tool really makes a miracle with any soldering iron tip so I truly recommend it if you never tried before.