The solder tip of a soldering iron can vary in temperature between 392F to 842F. It will take up to about one minute until the soldering iron’s working temperature is reached. It also depends on the wattage of your soldering iron. A 30-watt iron will heat up in 15-20 seconds, while a 60-watt iron can heat up in about 10-15 seconds. However, when plugged in but not in use, the iron’s temperature will rise slowly and may take 5-10 minutes, so allow extra time for heating.
How do I know if my soldering iron is hot enough?
Simply try to keep your hand near the heat sink to the iron’s tip for 1-2 seconds, but not too close. If the heat sink feels too hot, your soldering station is probably at about 500F.
Another way is to try applying solder. If it melts quickly and sticks to your tip, the iron is hot enough. Remember though, the solder will stick even if the iron is not hot enough, so there’s no way of telling how hot it actually is. Unless you have a professional temperature-controlled soldering station, it’s impossible to know for sure.
The other way is by using a temperature-controlled soldering station. These stations usually have an indicator light that will turn orange when heated up; once you see this, the solder tip’s temperature is enough to start working.
When done, let the soldering iron cool down for several minutes before packing it away or putting it back into its holder. If you leave your soldering iron on constantly it may overheat and become damaged.
Can a soldering iron overheat?
Yes, this often happens with butane soldering iron, and that is why you should never use your soldering station without a tip cleaner. The reason for overheating could be having too much solder on a tip. Also soldering iron may overheat if it has no great heat conductivity. In that case, we recommend using a model designed for electronic components and has a standard tip size because the solder will melt quickly when in contact with your iron.
Using a lower quality soldering iron can be another cause of overheating because they don’t have proper insulation around the iron. Keep in mind that soldering bigger electronic components means you’re going to have to expose the tip for longer which will increase your chances of overheating it.
If you’re struggling with getting the right temperature, there are some tips and tricks to help out:
- Take your time
- Prepare everything ahead of time
As we mentioned before, it usually takes somewhere between one and two minutes for the temperature to reach the desired level. The problem is that when you’re in a hurry or don’t know when your iron has reached the right temperature then you might end up burning yourself (and ruining your solder joint). Don’t rush through soldering, and you’ll be sure to never burn yourself or ruin your solder joints.
Before you start working with the soldering iron, make sure that all the components are on hand and placed in reach. Turn on the soldering iron when you’re ready to do some work instead of turning it on beforehand. If you’re prepared and everything is in reach then you won’t have to spend any time looking for a screwdriver or pair of tweezers.
If you’ve done everything right, then after a few seconds you’ll see that the solder has melted, and might even hear a small sizzling sound. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t move your iron too fast during this process or the solder won’t melt properly.