Amateur Radio Tip of the Day: Keep your soldering iron tip clean

To make good solder joints, you need to keep the tip of your soldering iron clean from any oxides and dust or dirt. A clean, well-tinned tip will transfer heat properly and help you avoid cold solder joints. Many solderers use wet sponges to clean soldering iron tips, and many solder stations have troughs to hold these sponges.


An alternate method is to use a wire cleaning pad like the one shown above. You stick the iron into the pad and then draw it back out. The wire scrapes the oxides and dirt from the tip as you do this. Proponents of this method claim that this method increases the life of the tip as it avoids the rapid temperature changes that using a wet sponge cause.



Larry, KB8QJE, is this week’s winner of one of my e-books. His name was randomly selected from the subscriber list.

Tips like this one are sent out every day by e-mail. To subscribe to the list, simply click here and fill out the form. Every week, I’ll select a random subscriber and give them one of my books.

Do  you have a tip that you’d like to share with other radio amateurs? E-mail it to me. If I use your tip, I’ll send you one of my books.


  1. Ned WB4BKO says:

    I attended a NASA high reliability soldering class back in 1976 and the rukle for keeping the tip from oxidizing while not in use, is to clean the tip then add a big glob of solder on the tip and let it remain there untill the next time the iron is heated up for use.

    An inexpensive tip cleaner is a copper Chore Boy pot scrubber, or its stainless steel equivalent available at Dollar Tree.

    Ned Davis

  2. Dave, N8SBE says:

    You too? I still remember to clip the lead almost flush with the board *before* soldering, so the solder completely covers the end of the lead, so there is no lead end/solder interface left exposed to the environment (or lack thereof).


  1. [...] the solder beading up in a big glob, which even the sponge won’t remove. I’ll be taking KB6NU’s advice from now on and using a wire pad. Once I buy some new [...]

Speak Your Mind