How to Use Tip Tinner for Soldering: What You Need to Know

Ensuring you know what tools and materials are out there to use when soldering is essential. One wrong move and you could destroy the project you are working on. Tip Tinner is a vital supply to have at your disposal to ensure you are working with clean tools.

Tip tinner is used for cleaning soldering tips to help them collect solder to use. The mild acid helps to destroy the collection of dirt and grime on your soldering tip. To use it effectively, you need to make sure you are following a specific series of steps.

When working on soldering projects, having clean tools and knowledge of supplies needed is crucial. Read on to find out more information about soldering and the supplies that can keep your tips and projects from destruction.

What is Tip Tinner?

Tip tinner is a cleaning adhesive that keeps a soldering tip from oxidizing and becoming unusable. Some tips will become pre-tinned, but it is recommended that you use tinner whenever you are soldering.

Throughout the soldering process, you should re-apply the tinner after applying the solder to your project

Frequent reapplication will ensure no leftover residue will ruin your project, and your tip will always be in perfect working condition. 

Why It’s Important to Use Tip Tinner

When you use tips on a soldering iron, most of them have been pre-tinned by the manufacturer. Solder is then applied to the tip, and then it can be used. 

But over time, the oxidation process will wear out your soldering tips, and you will need to re-tinner them.

The oxidation process occurs when metal is left in an oxygen-rich atmosphere. This causes two major problems:

  • Rust. The oxygen corrodes your tip and makes rust on it. 
  • Weakness. The structural integrity is also compromised because of the rust build-up.

If a tip is not adequately taken care of and re-tinned, the joints on a soldering project that carry electric currents are doomed to fail. You can keep your tips usable and clean using the tip tinner because of the acid within the product to reduce oxidation.

What Happens When You Don’t Use Tinner

If a tip becomes oxidized and you don’t use tinner, it can become pitted and unusable. The tinner is used to get rid of the oxidization and make sure it is not ruined. 

The residue and heat can help create debris on the end of your tip. Without tinner your heat source becomes ineffective and you cannot make a concrete soldering bond.

When to Re-Tinner Your Soldering Tip

The best way to keep your soldering tip in working order is to know how to keep your tips in the best shape. These include:

  • Cover. Keep the tip covered in solder when not using. Without solder, the iron can quickly oxidize and become detinned.
  • Use the correct temperature. Make sure you are using your soldering iron at 800 degrees or less. The higher the temperature, the quicker the tip will oxidize and become unusable.
  • Use a large solder wire. A smaller wire can bend more quickly and take away the tinner.
  • Always use clean fluxes
  • Solder must have high tinner content.
  • Use a cellulose sponge to wipe off the tip of the soldering iron.

These tips will make sure your soldering tip does not become oxidized and need to be re-tinned. But if any of these things are neglected in the soldering process, you may need to re-tinner your tip.

How to Re-Tinner Your Solder Tip

There are a few ways to make your solder tip usable again. Each one of them requires special tools.

  • Use a polishing bar to re-tin your tip. A polishing bar is made of polyurethane foam with abrasions. Use it to polish the end of the tip and get rid of the oxidization. Then resolder your tip with a high tinner content based solder.
  • A tip tinner and cleaning paste can be used to re-tinner your tip. The cleaner can take off the oxidization and make it reusable. Roll the tip in the paste while the soldering iron is hot, and it will fix the tip.

Both of these methods will help your soldering iron do its best work!

Clean the Tip 

Do not clean your soldering tip with anything other than a polyurethane sponge or brass cleaning wool or brush. Each of these items is soft and pliable, allowing the tip to become clean from all angles.

The cellulose and abrasions in the sponge gently clean off your tip. This will help the cleaning solution, tinner, gently take off any oxidation while not destroying the tip.

These tools can be found at any home improvement store or on Amazon! 

After using any of the tools, make sure you clean them. If you do not, you can contaminate the tip and make it more inefficient.  

Run the Tip Through the Tinner

When a soldering iron is hot but under 650 degrees Fahrenheit, run the tip through the tin of the tinner. Pay careful attention to the temperature of the iron. If it is too hot, the tip will become unusable.

When placing the tip in the can of the tinner, it only needs to be there for 10-15 seconds. You will notice the tip starting to smoke due to the high heat. Make sure you complete one full rotation so that the entire tip can be usable. The tinner should turn the tip from black to silver.

There are many different tinner brands to use, but you want to make sure you are often using your tinner, which means you will probably need a lot of it.

Run Tip Through Solder

Solder is an alloy that binds metal together. Once the solder melts, it can be used on the tip of the soldering iron.

Once you have put the tinner on your tip, run your tip through the solder. The solder will make sure your tip will not become oxidized because of the protective coating of the tinner. Then the solder will ensure extra protection from the air, making sure it does not oxidize.

After you put solder on the tip, you will be able to use it for your next soldering project!

Different Types of Solder

Solder is as crucial to the tip tinning process as the tinner itself. Just like the tips and the tinner, there are also different types of solder.  Each solder consists of other alloys such as tin, flux, or lead. Each of these things helps the alloy stick together and make the electronics work.

  • Lead/Lead-Free Solder: Lead has a low melting point and can help bind materials together quickly. But with health concerns being a significant issue with lead-based solder, many people switch to a tin and silver concentration. 
  • Flux is another form of solder that originates in a wire coil. The wire is made of an alloy that has a lower melting point. This makes it an easy and faster solder for your projects to give it a better electrical connection.

Depending on your project and health regulations, you can choose which solder you use. Now make sure when you are using solder, allow the tip to be free of it. 

You want to make sure there is no extra flux on the tip using tip tinners.  

Flux

Flux is a form of solder and can help keep joints clean and free of debris. Flux can help reduce oxidation on the joints and ensure your product will not rust.

The use of flux can benefit your soldering iron tip as well because of the anti-rusting properties. You will be able to have more extended longevity on your soldering tip and save money.

Most fluxes are made with resin. Resin has a better fluidity point and helps make better electric connections than those of other solders. 

Storing Soldering Tips

If you need to place the soldering tip down for a little while, store it in its soldering iron at an idling temperature. Ensure the tip has a bit of tinner and solder on it, so it does not oxidize.

In between uses, make sure the tinner is on the tips and stored in an airtight container. This will limit its oxidation and keep them in usable condition. 

When to Get a New Soldering Tip

You will need a new soldering tip if the other ones get damaged.  This can be as simple as it being dropped and breaking or even just becoming over oxidized. 

  • Pitting. If you notice there is pitting on the tip or holes in the tip, it needs to be replaced. Without replacing the tip, the tip can place the wrong amount of heat on your project and ruin it.
  • Not melting solder. You will also notice your tip needs to be replaced when the solder will not melt and instead continues to be solid. The heat can even be more detrimental to your project because of a faulty soldering tip creating too much heat on the project.

Soldering Iron

A soldering iron is a hand tool you can use to connect two electrical components. It has a heated metal tip and an insulated rod. There are some brands of soldering irons that allow you to determine the temperature at the point. 

By being able to regulate the temperature to a lower degree, your tip will be able to be tinned for a longer period of time because it will not be as large of a collector of debris. Both of these things make sure you will not get burnt while also channeling heat into the solder.

For a basic soldering iron, you can expect to pay between $25 and $60. If you want a more reliable heat source, you could pay more, but the simpler ones work just as well, as long as you keep an eye on the temperature.

Soldering Gun

Another tool that can help with larger projects is a soldering gun. A soldering gun can be used for intermittent projects because it can cool faster and not require a tip but a copper wire piece. 

The only unfortunate aspect of a soldering gun is that it utilizes a copper loop as a conduit for the heat, which can break and get ruined easily. That is why a soldering iron is helpful because the tinner keeps your tip in perfect order.

Supplies Needed for Soldering

Besides a soldering iron, there are a few supplies you need to be able to complete your projects and keep your tips tinned. They are:

  • A pair of wire cutters. These can be used to cut the wire or even cut component strips.
  • A solder sucker. If you make a mistake or have used too much solder, you can use this vacuum pump and suck the solder away.
  • A solder wick. This small tool can be used for tiny mistakes. Its copper bristles and softly and efficiently clear the solder away. 
  • A pair of Tweezers. Tweezers can hold small components in place as well as keep your fingers safe!
  • A USB Microscope. A USB microscope will allow you to see small connections between the components and see up close what you are doing.
  • A sponge. A sponge is a delicate and useful tool for soldering. You need to clean off your soldering iron tip, and a sponge can do that for cheap!
  • A soldering stand. A soldering stand will keep the hot tool out of burning reach. It is a specially designed stand to make sure that your iron does not ruin any surfaces. 
  • A pair of safety glasses. Safety glasses are essential when working with any tool, but it can help keep your eyes protected from solder or heat for soldering.
  • A solder roll. A roll of solder to melt to use when connecting components.
  • A Tip Tinner Tin. Keeps your tip tinned and ready to be used. Also, removes debris!

All of these supplies will make sure your soldering work is safe and well made. Since soldering is mainly used for electronics, these tools can help ensure the components’ electric current flow. 

Types of Soldering Iron Tips

There are various types of soldering tips. Each one is a bit different and depends on what the task you are trying to complete is.

If you do not utilize the right tip, the heat will not be intense enough or be too strong for the project. It can ruin your projects and create electrical programming issues.

There are many different types of soldering tips, but there are five main ones; each one will require a different amount of tinner:

Type of TipUses
Chisel TipThis is the most versatile tip and can be used for a myriad of projects. 
Conical TipThey are used for precision work and small projects.
Hoof TipIt holds more solder and can be used for larger projects.
Knife TipsIt can be used for small crevices in between small projects.
Blade TipBlade tips are used for reworking a soldering section or for cleaning the pad of the soldering item.

Each of these tips can come pre-tinned and can help you complete all your soldering projects. They will need to be re-tinned quite often if you use them a lot, especially a chisel tip.

Chisel Tip

A chisel tip has a broad edge allowing for an equal amount of solder and temperature to use across a project. Because of this edge, you can use it on many different parts of a soldering project, such as components, component pads, or even crevices. These come in 30, and 60-degree angles, perfect for everyday soldering.

Since this tip will be used for multiple projects, make sure you are wiping it down and using a tinner every time you use it.

Conical Tip

The cone-shaped tip is used for precise work. The small tip provides concise heat to the remote areas needed for components.

Hard to reach places are comfortable with a conical tip, but it can break easily because of their sharp point. Careful pressure needs to be used when soldering with this tip; you need to ensure you pay attention and take special care of it.

Tinner is especially important for this tip because the oxidation of a tip can destroy it. With a small surface, the tip can easily break with oxidation.

Hoof Tip

The hoof tip’s wide edge allows for a large amount of solder to be used at once. A small divet in the tip provides for extra solder to be used in gauge wires. This is a time saver and ensures you can spend more time on other essential parts of your project. Tinner can further speed up the process on this tip by making solder stick faster.

Knife Tip

The knife tip is also a very fine point tip, much like that of the conical tip. When you are working on a small project, the knife tip is perfect for tiny spaces. Tinner is once again crucial for this tip because of its small space and ability to easily get damaged.

The slanted edge can repair the bridges between the components and keep the heat on a very particular section, allowing the solder to focus only on the spots needed. 

Blade Tip

The blade tip is the largest soldering tip, and it can be used solely for reworking a project. If you use the right flux and solder, the tinner will help make the solder stick, and it will make a faster and more concise product.

Conclusion: 

Venturing into the world of soldering can be difficult. But the most influential supply you can have in your arsenal is a tin of tip tinner. A container of tip tinner can increase your soldering iron’s longevity and make your projects more effective. 

Sources:

https://resources.pcb.cadence.com/blog/what-are-the-different-types-of-solder-2

http://blog.okinternational.com/metcal/5-tips-for-solder-tip-selection

https://www.circuitspecialists.com/soldering-gun-vs-soldering-iron

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If you liked this article, have a look at my other articles I wrote about the topic!

Alexander Berk

A bit about myself: I am a certified international welding engineer (IWE) who worked in different welding projects for TIG, MIG, MAG, and Resistance Spot welding. Most recently as a Process Engineer for Laser and TIG welding processes. To address some of the questions I frequently got asked or was wondering myself during my job, I started this blog. It has become a bit of a pet project, as I want to learn more about the details about welding. I sincerely hope it will help you to improve your welding results as much as it did improve mine.

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