I saw this glass-fibre brush (or pen) for cleaning soldering iron
tips while hot.
Would a wodge of glass wool (loft insulation) do as good a job?
Does it have there any unsafe chemicals which might be given off if
used on a hot soldering iron? (700 deg F/390 deg C)
I have loads of glass wool in my loft! It's that pink coloured spun
type which doesn't seem to leave as many shards and splinters as
the old style glass wool. Users in forums have warned that the
glass-fibre pen also leaves this sort of sharp debris.
Matt H R coughed up some electrons that declared:
Glass wool and that brush are very different - the brush bristles are
densely packed and thicker strands than glass wool - it looks like the
little brush you get with Halfords car touch up paint kits.
But you could try it. Coarse steel wool might work too.
Glass wool should be safe emissions wise - it is just a form of glass.
I find a damp soldering sponge generally effective - and when I was younger,
we made do with an old newspaper which was Ok until your bit etched
Tim, I think steel wool might cause damage to the metal coating on
the soldering iron's tip. However, maybe I could use that glass
wool give the tip a wipe instead of damp cellulose sponge because
my sponge sometimes gets a bit singed.
I guess my Antex XS25 iron might be a bit too hot. It's nominally
quite hot at 390 degrees C (735 F) and could be running even
I recently tried a piece of "Magic Cleaning Eraser" to clean the
tip with and that seems very heat resistant. It's made mainly of a
melamine sponge. I wonder if that stuff releases dangerous
chemicals when heated? Does anyone know?
Matt H R coughed up some electrons that declared:
Possible - but I imagine glass would scratch it too. Maybe to a different
I think your sponge is not wet enough or you're taking too long. I've not
had that problem. I soak the sponge and give it a light squeeze out.
The insulation glass itself might melt. Pyrex wool would not, but it's
an expensive way to clean a tip. An ordinary wet sponge or steel wool
will do the job. I do lots of soldering and I've used the same sponge
for years. Once in a while, I take it out and wash it.
I don't know about the glass fiber brush. I would think it would
gouge grooves into the comparatively soft iron soldering tip.
Fiberglass insulation would probably work if wet, but doesn't seem to
offer anything over the conventional wet sponge. The idea is to
scrape off the oxidized dross, which can be done with anything that
holds water. I once used a piece of wet (wool) felt when my sponge
Also, for smelly, smoky, but good tip cleaning, try a block of sal
ammoniac (ammonium chloride). About $5 for a small block. Available
at hardware stores in the copper pipe soldering section and at stained
There are also polishing bars, which are more suitable for large torch
type soldering irons that tend to get incrusted with glassy goo.
There's also a variety of tip re-tinners made by Weller, MG, and
Plato. They contain silver and are a bit pricey. If you're down to
un-tinned iron on your soldering tip, you can sometimes recover some
of the tip with this stuff. I have a small tin, but rarely use it.
I forgot to mumble about keeping the lead free and leaded tips, irons,
solder, sponges, cleaners, and such separate. I've trashed a few tips
mixing solder types which required aggressive cleaning and retinning
to salvage. I now have two separate soldering irons for each. For
desoldering, I use the same tool for both.
I would not recommend that for use on a hot tip... no need really - a
light wipe on a damp sponge ought to be plenty.
Those pencils are quite harsh - they would be more suited to cleaning
tarnish off a cold bit for example. However there is a danger of
damaging the iron cladding on copper bits like the Antex ones.
Its unlikely to be damaged or melt. Not sure how well it would wipe though.
Yes they do - its a good idea to wear gloves when using them or you will
end up feeling irritated in the same way as if you handle glass fibre wool.
I've been using these fibre glass pens for years, they are great for
repairing PCB traces, but do tend to leave invisible irritating splinters
in your fingers if you are not careful.
I wouldn't imagine them at all suitable for cleaning soldering tips, it
would be a right old palaver. Whats wrong with the wet sponge method?
Unless your tip was improperly tinned or the Silver has broken through, a
damp sponge is the best. Other things will leave a mess that contaminates
your work. If you have to, a brass brush will take care of flux crust.
Once you have to resort to a file, time to break out a new tip and use the
old one for desoldering or plastic welding.
For many years, I've cleaned my soldering iron tip using a quick flip of
my index finger, first wetted in my mouth. The reason for cleaning an
iron tip is to get rid of excess solder and dross on the tip. My finger
works fine and is always available! In over fifty years of doing it
this way, I've yet to burn my finger or get lead poisoning from the
solder. I've been through several irons, and dozens of tips, but I am
still using the same finger! (Quick and wet are mandatory. Be careful
where you "flip" the excess solder.)
This is a 35W iron with ~1/8" tip. I don't try to maintain the original
surface, but file it occasionally and "re-tin" it when necessary. I run
it from a Variac, and when needed, 135V gives extra punch. It serves 95%
of my requirements. I have other specialized "soldering stations", and
use their built in "sponges" for tip cleaning.
Amazing! My girlfriend is very cautious of the soldering iron but
this is quite the opposite. I mean, gawd, don't you leave burnt
I just have to see a video of this! Be really interesting to see
this, if you could knock up a simple vid. Any quality at all.