Core Electronics Forum

Is it normal for my solder iron to dissolve itself?

Hey all,

I used a solder iron for the first time today (it was a brand new one from bunnings: https://www.bunnings.com.au/ozito-30w-soldering-iron-kit_p0248284)

I’m a little worried, because it looks like the head got melted off.

Here’s the head from different angles:

All I did was solder some flux core solder onto my Adafruit soundboard, and also did some practise runs by melting some solder onto my silicone mat. But nothing crazy.

Is my solder iron acting normally?

I also smelled a bit of the fumes (I had a N95 mask on and my window wide open to let out fumes). Will my health be ok given that I soldered for roughly 30 mins?

Thank you

No it is definitely not normal. In the days before a bit of copper was introduced into solder to prevent metal migration this sort of thing happened over a pretty long time. Not single use.

Take it back. It looks to have been pretty hot.

If this is a 240V non temperature controlled unit I would not use it for your electronic work anyway. Not enough control and the antistatic properties probably near zero.

Did you not look at the YouTube video I posted for you. I did not see any response so I just assumed you were the full bottle on soldering but I see I must have been mistaken.
Cheers Bob

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hey bob!
thank you! i checked out your video, he gave some awesome tips about soldering tips #pununintended.

sorry im not sure what you mean by full bottle? :open_mouth:

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Expert
Cheers Bob

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If you are intending any electronic soldering, the cheap soldering irons will give you grief. They run too hot for fine work and you will find tracks lifting, plastic bits softening, possible damage to electronics and if you try to avoid that by making joins really quickly you’ll make dry joints. I bought a SEQURE Mini SQ-001 Soldering Iron a couple of months back and it is an absolute joy to use. Temperature control is buttons on the handle, it is very light and easy to hold, I am running it off an old laptop 19V supply and it heats in 10 seconds.
Don’t rely on the flux in flux core solder to do all the work. I apply a bit of flux paste to joins before touching them with solder. Some fluxes (the one I use) will corrode if not cleaned off after soldering. I scrub the board down with methylated spirits and a toothbrush, then wash with soap and water. Sounds like a “what could possibly go wrong” scenario but I haven’t had one failure yet. Of course everything has to dry before applying power.
I also have a brute force soldering iron for attaching heavy wires to lugs and similar jobs that just need lots of heat. And when that isn’t enough, a butane torch.
And no, what happened to your tip is definitely not right.

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Yes that tip. It looks suspiciously like it may have got too close to some volts. Splat.

Teena, if you are going to be seriously into this business as a hobby do yourself a favour and invest in something decent. You will save yourself a lot of frustration and heartache.

This is very true. I have not used that iron Alan mentioned and know nothing about it. While in the last years of work I used Weller pretty exclusively and have now got a 65W Goot which is a good unit but tip selection is poor and expensive. I have since got some Hakko tips which fit perfectly and seem good and have a good range of sizes. If I were buying one now I would go for Hakko FX888D which seems very popular and appears to have good support and supplies. 65W is heavy enough for jobs a bit larger but fine enough (with tip changes) to handle small items. A good quality tool may seem a little expensive but will be a good investment in the long run and with the right treatment will give many years of service.

I also go up to quite a large 80W unit but that is another story.
Cheers Bob
PS. I HATE RUBBISH TOOLS

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thank you alan for the soldering tips!
seems like i just bought a cheap tool from bunnings :frowning:
100% agree if long term i want to do more soldering, i need to find a better iron.

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hi bob,

when you say:

It looks suspiciously like it may have got too close to some volts

what does too close to volts mean?

thank you also for your recommendations!

i definetly will look into these tools if im going to take on more soldering projects!

It means it looks like the tip might have been blown off by accidentally touching it on a live (like 12V) point and been taken off by an electrical arc. Nor hard to do and you would not have been the first.

It would take a lot of heat in one concentrated place (like an electrical arc) to do that. I think a bit more than that iron will produce.

Maybe it just was a funny tip. That iron seems to be heavily discoloured for such a short time use.
Cheers Bob

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Hi Alan
In my early days in the electronics industry before temperature controlled irons were common we used a similar 240V unit. Some temperature control could be achieved by withdrawing the tip a bit further out of the iron body before locking into place with the screw. More or less getting the business end a bit further away from the element. This was also prior to the introduction of a bit of copper into the solder and the tips used to eat away fairly rapidly. My employer had their own plating section so we got the tips iron plated before use to increase longevity. Got it made now with the modern iron and copper in the solder.
Cheers Bob

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wow that sounds dangerous.
im glad nothing too crazy happened… or else i’d be so…dead… (souldered)

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Bunnings has a pretty good returns policy. Return it and get your money back. What sort of solder were you using? Was it for electronics, and not plumbing? The wrong solder/flux can eat through things you didn’t intend it to. I’d definitely recommend getting a TS-100 or SQ-001 as mentioned above. Tips are considered a semi-consumable and can be replaced if they wear out. Yours shouldn’t have done this though, perhaps really bad/cheap metal used for the tip and not prepared properly?

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Hi Simon,

You’re absolutely right. While they are consumable, I’ve seen tips last 30+ years with hobbyist use when cared for.

A TS100 is a great first pick, make sure you get a matching power supply @teena175334! (preferably with silicon cord so you can’t melt it with the iron)

We also have stock Hakko stations as well if you’re looking to go the fully-blown station route:

-James

Hi Simon

It certainly can. But not in a single use like this one. Have a look at the photo. I would still guess at an accidental electrical arc (or mini explosion) to do this much damage.
Cheers Bob

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I agree flux can cause issues when used incorrectly, I’ve had a number of returned items come back for repair absolutely soaked in residue and it’s quite nasty to work with.

Although similarly to Bob said, generally the outcome is not so dramatic on a soldering iron, my 2c is that this is either an arc as Bob suggested, or potentially from excessive temperature. Depending on whether the model includes thermal runaway protection, if the thermistor in the iron fails, it will continue to heat up until failure.

In this case, if that’s occurred it may cause the metal to become brittle and easily shatter as you’re essentially creating small amounts of martensite when it cools relatively quickly in the air from high temperatures each time it’s being used or if you’ve hit a cool liquid with it. (Also, that discolouration is usually due to post-processing on the steel and is usually more prevalent with less expensive irons, it only occurs the first few times)

As James suggested, the Hakko Irons are good value, we actually use that here for prototyping with our PiicoDev and Makerverse range as well as for general fixes around the warehouse and office.

Personally I really like the TS-100 as since it’s so light and small it provides for quite delicate control over where you want the heat and components which is essential for any work on SMD scales. The fact you can power it via USB-C is also very useful when needing to work remotely.

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Hi Bryce

Ozito. I doubt it
Cheers Bob

I didn’t think the TS-100 ran from USB-C, and needed an adapter. Before I bought my SQ-001, I borrowed an SQ-D60 which does run off a USB-C cable by design. It was nice to use, so I read reviews and people leaned toward the SQ-001. I read the reviews comparing the TS-100 and the Sequre SQ-001, the reviewers said they were basically identical (even though made by different companies) but the SQ-001 is cheaper. They take the same tips and it seems take the same software and are almost the same weight.

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