Tips and Tricks for Soldering

  • Applying Heat to the Board and not the Component

    When soldering it is best practice to apply heat to the pad on your board and not the component.  Then you apply solder to another part of the pad.  The idea is that you allow the pad itself to melt the solder.

  • The Three Second Rule for Heat

    You should try to never apply heat to your board more than 3 seconds at a time.  You can melt the bonding agent that holds the copper layer to the rest of the board.  When you do that, your board will be damaged and it will be difficult to repair.  Instead, apply heat and if it has been more than 3-5 seconds remove the heat, wait a few moments, and try again.

  • Your Iron Might Be Too Hot

    Solder with the lowest temperature that works.  If you have an iron that has a dial that reads from 1 to 5, maybe start at 3 and wait a few minutes for it to warm it up. Check to see if it works and if it doesn’t, increase the heat some and try again.  I know it is tempting to just turn your iron up to 5 and use it, but this will cause damage to your tip and significantly cause it to need to be replaced sooner than otherwise.

  • A Shiny Tip is a Good Tip

    Your tip should be shiny when you clean it.  The shiny parts of the tip are the parts that will make it possible to hold solder to your tip.  If your tip won’t hold solder then it will be very difficult to effectively solder.

  • Keep a Clean and Tinned Tip

    When soldering it is best practice to clean and tin your tip each time you pick up your iron from the holder and when you put it back.  To tin your iron’s tip all you need to do is apply a small amount of solder to the tip.  Tinning your tip before using it makes it more effective and makes it easier to apply heat to your board or components.  Tinning your tip when you put it back in the holder helps keep the tip from oxidizing while it is sitting in the holder.  Doing this will add a significant amount of life to your tips.