A soldering iron may be one of the simpler pieces of electronic repair equipment you will use, but it needs regular maintenance in order to operate properly. If you do not keep your soldering tip cleaned and properly maintained, then it will not be able to heat up the solder enough to get the job done. If you have black oxidation on your solder tip, and you notice that no matter how hot the tip gets it does not melt the solder, then you need to clean your soldering iron tip.
Things You'll Need
Wet, thick sponge
Roll of solder
Plug in your soldering iron to allow it to heat up. According to Kingbass.com, you should let your soldering iron sit for up to five minutes to heat completely.
Put on your leather gloves as a precaution against getting burned while cleaning your iron.
Use a damp sponge to wipe away the black oxidation from the tip of the soldering iron until the tip is silver and shines in the light.
Unroll a portion of solder, then roll the hot tip of the iron from the end of the solder until it does one complete turn on the solder. This should leave the tip of the iron with a layer of solder on it. According to Kingbass.com, this process is called tinning and is essential to the proper performance of the soldering tip.
Electronix Express recommends unplugging your iron after tinning it to prevent further oxidation. Once the tip has cooled, you can begin using it again.
If you use flux solder, it is important to remember that flux solder only cleans oxidation from the tip. Electronix Express points out that in order to remove the dirt and debris that accumulates on the tip of a soldering iron, it is necessary to wipe it clean with a sponge.
You also can clean your soldering iron tip with a sponge while using it to keep it clean. Inlandcraft.com warns that doing this too much can damage your soldering iron as the constant heating and cooling of the tip can cause the tip to fail, so clean the tip during use sparingly.