Soldering is a complicated process. It joins together many different materials, which means soldering irons useful for many professions as well as crafty individuals. High temperature is the key component in fusing metal, glass, and wires and creating a bond that is long-lasting and strong.
The best temperature range for a soldering iron is anywhere between 500 and 600 degrees Fahrenheit. This number can vary for different soldering projects. Depending on the conditions, you may need to adjust the temperature of your soldering iron.
There are so many factors that can affect how you use a soldering iron. These factors can affect what temperature you will need to use for your project. Here is everything you need to know, so you find the ideal temperature for your soldering iron.
Ideal Temperature for a Soldering Iron
There are many ways to use a soldering iron. The best way is slow and steady. When you begin your project, start at the lowest temperature and increase until the solder establishes itself. Most metals used in a soldering iron begin to melt at 370 degrees Fahrenheit.
After reaching that baseline, you can continue to increase the temperature. The best temperature for your soldering iron will depend on the materials you are soldering. Here are the ideal temperatures for a few common soldering tasks:
- Metal: 600 to 650 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Glass: around 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wires: 660 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit
There is a general range for soldering iron temperature. But remember that the exact temperature relates to the specific materials you are using. Finding the right range is important because if your soldering iron is too hot, you can run into some issues.
How to Know if a Soldering Iron is Too Hot?
Sometimes your soldering iron can become too hot. This is not as detrimental as if it were too cold but can still cause problems. An excessively high temperature will cause your solder to come out too quickly.
Another way to tell your solder is too hot, check your temperature settings. If your temperature settings are above 750 degrees Fahrenheit, consider reducing them. Some materials may need a higher temperature, but for wires and similar materials, you will not need a higher temperature than that.
How to Know if a Soldering Iron is Too Cold?
If your soldering is too cold, this can cause the flux to not completely fuse between the two products that you are trying to join. This is often called a “cold joint.” Cold joints can break easily and are unreliable. If you have a cold joint, many issues can arise, such as the following:
- Electrical currents can break, which means your circuit board and other electrical devices will not work.
- Low conductivity
- If used on metal gutters, the gutters can fall during storms
- Your stained glass can fall apart
Any of the issues listed above can lead to problems, including injury. Since soldering is something we often rely upon without noticing, it is important to complete your soldering the correct way. If your soldering iron is too cold, you need to find out before it is too late.
One way to tell if your soldering iron is too cool is to see how long it takes for the material to flow from the tip. If it is longer than two seconds, you may need to turn up the heat.
If your joint looks rough in texture and does not have a smooth, shiny surface, it may be a cold joint. Some soldering irons may not create a smooth texture, depending on the brand. But if your soldering iron normally produces a shiny, smooth texture, then you may need to increase the temperature.
Controlling the Temperature of a Soldering Iron
This depends on the soldering iron you choose to use. Some have a turn dial, and others have a digital temperature gauge. Turn dials are not always the most precise at setting temperatures. Digital formats seem to become more popular as advancements in technology continue.
The best way to figure out how to control the temperature of your tool is to read the directions thoroughly. The manufacturers are always the best experts to turn to when it comes to their products.
Different Types of Soldering
Depending on the type of soldering you are performing, you will have to change the temperature of your soldering iron. Here are some varieties of soldering you should consider:
- Soft Soldering
- Hard Soldering
Brazing is anytime you join metal but you do not melt them together. You just heat the joint instead. The temperatures don’t go over 200 degrees Fahrenheit and usually does not reach any lower than 50-degrees Fahrenheit.
This type of soldering is the most used on projects. When you use this method, you are using metals to create a bond. This uses temperatures between 190 degrees Fahrenheit to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. This method of soldering carries the least potential for damage, but it does not produce the strongest joint.
Hard soldering is the strongest out of the three types. It provides a strong joint and uses metals like silver. This method uses a blow torch instead of a common soldering iron and requires a much higher temperature than the rest, usually around 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
How Wattage Affects Soldering Iron Temperature
The higher the wattage, the higher the temperature the soldering iron can reach. Higher wattage means higher output. Soldering irons with larger wattage can complete hard soldering projects and are better if you need hotter temperatures.
Wattage is not the only way to produce a broader range of temperatures with a soldering iron. The tips can also affect the temperature output of your tool.
How Tips Affect Soldering Iron Temperature
The tip of the soldering iron can affect the temperature. The size of the tip can increase the transfer of heat or decrease it. The larger the tip, the more heat is transferred to the metal to create the bond. The smaller the tip, the less heat can be transferred.
When the tip is dirty, this can cause faulty joints that can break easily. The tips need to be clean to make strong bonds that will last longer and make sure your temperature output is accurate. Dirt can throw off this accuracy.
What is the Best Soldering Iron?
There are many brands of soldering irons out there. Let’s look at some of these options, as well as their associated wattages. This can be useful so you know what tool is the best choice for your project.
|Brand of Soldering Iron||Wattage||Pros||Cons|
|X-Tronic 3020||75||ReliableComfortableSturdyGreat for those who work quite a bit with a soldering ironBetter for hard soldering||Temperature rebound is slower than others|
|Vastar||60||InexpensiveGreat for small projectsMore Accessories||Included stand isn’t sturdyAdjustment wheel for temperature isn’t always accurate|
|Delcast||30||SturdierInexpensiveBetter for beginners and small projectsBetter for soft soldering or brazing||Company is out of stock for items often|
These three soldering irons are the ones I saw on a few different lists for the best choices. The one you choose should be the one you feel is best for you.
The typical temperature for a soldering iron is anywhere between 500 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. The key is to take your time so that you don’t create a “cold joint” or rush it and cause injury. You want your bond to last longer. Remember to be safe when working with hot temperatures!