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Soldering Iron tip not melting solder
Moderators: adafruit_support_bill, adafruit

Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.

Soldering Iron tip not melting solder

by holden on Fri Oct 02, 2020 6:48 am

Hello,

I recently purchased a soldering iron (BEST 102C) and solder (RoHS Lead Free - 0.5mm/.02" with rosin core) from Adafruit.

I am unable to make the solder melt/flow to the tip of the solder in order to tin the tip; instead the solder will 'roll' away from the tip up the solder wire and form a ball.

It also takes more than a few seconds to melt the solder while in direct contact with the tip regardless of the temperature setting. It seems to melt faster when in contact with the metal above the tip.

The solder does not melt at all when I put the iron in contact with a wire and contact the solder to the wire as shown in many tutorials, even when in sustained contact for 10-20 seconds. The solder will only 'melt' (really form a ball and not flow) when in direct contact with the iron for over 3 seconds. I am admittedly new to soldering but the tutorial videos I have seen show the solder melting within a second or two of contact to the iron, easily sticking to the tip to tin it, then the solder melting when both the solder and iron are in contact with a wire for 2-3 seconds. My iron/solder do none of these things, I began trying at 330 degrees C and have worked up to the highest setting (480 degrees C) with similar results.

This leads me to believe the iron, tip, and/or heating element are defective, or I may have been shipped solder without a rosin core (it is unlabeled). Please advise on either troubleshooting or how to process a replacement/refund.

Thank you,

Holden

holden
 
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Re: Soldering Iron tip not melting solder

by dastels on Fri Oct 02, 2020 11:19 am

I suggest leaded solder with a rosin core. That will be the easiest to work with. I work with a temperature of 399C with cored leaded. I've been soldering for 40 years and never bothered with lead-free since it's such a nuisance to work with.

Take the tip holder off and confirm that the heating element is intact. I.e. extending all the way into the tip.

Dave

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Re: Soldering Iron tip not melting solder

by adafruit_support_bill on Fri Oct 02, 2020 12:10 pm

Lead free solder requires higher temperatures and sometimes a more aggressive flux. That can make it hard to tin the tip.

I work with good old-fashioned 60/40 solder for the most part. When lead-free is required, I like to keep a tin of tip-tinner/cleaner handy: https://www.radioshack.com/products/rad ... ner-0-5-oz

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Re: Soldering Iron tip not melting solder

by holden on Sun Oct 11, 2020 5:19 pm

Thanks for the replies. In order to help others who might run into this problem - the solution was to replace the tip with a new one as the old one was either too heavily oxidized already, or poorly made. Details:
    I first bought a small container of rosin and tried to coat the tip in rosin, then wrap solder wire around the tip and then heat the iron to let the solder melt onto the tip. This did not work, even with continued coatings of rosin and additional solder I was unable to tin the iron tip. I suspect either the tip was too oxidized or was not well made to begin with.
    After trying the rosin, I replaced the solder tip, this fixed the issue immediately. I made sure to 'tin' the new tip immediately, solder now melts easily when in indirect contact, flows towards the iron and easily coats wires it is in contact with when the wire is in contact with the iron.
    I did not buy lead solder, this was not necessary. The solder melts easily when the iron is at 380 C now.
    I also did not buy or try tip tinner/cleaner which was also suggested. It's possible this could have helped de-oxidize the tip (assuming that was the issue).

Hopefully that's helpful to anyone else that encounters this problem!

holden
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2020 6:35 am

Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.