How do I clean catalyst on gas soldering iron?

Can you help. I am new to this stuff.
The catalyst on my gas soldering iron doesn't glow as red as it used to. Maybe some bits of material I used to file the iron's tip got
into the catalyst.
How can I clean the catalyst without damaging it?
I don't want to leave it with a residue that makes if fail altogether but I don't know the chemistry/physics of what might happen with a cleaner.
I've only got access to domestic cleaners.
---------------MY IDEAS:
Would isopropyl alcohol damage it?
Home dry-cleaning fluid?
Perhaps a spray of some of gas lighter fuel I used to refill the iron with?
(a) acetone free or (b) acetone-based nail varnish remover? (Or does it have gummy stuff in it?)
Methylated spirits?
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Avoid that one I think, as they add lanolin to some, and maybe other stuff to counteract the oil-removing effect on skin.
Isopropanol is likely a safe bet but might not do anything. As the catalyst gets hot, it's likely that any deposit isn't an oil of fat even if started out as one. I think the catalyst is platinum coated on glass or rockwool fibres. I don't know if it's recoverable, but if it is, maybe dilute nitric acid (diluted with distilled water) might do it, with gentle heating. Best to try on one where you have nothing to lose..
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That might just be a show stopper... PS to my earlier message, rinse with distilled water after attempting a clean as I described there.
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Sue Black wrote:

My first thought would be to use tarnish remover like is used when cleaning silver etc.. (Fluid dip tip)
It maybe possible a new catalyst is in order..
http://webpages.charter.net/jamie_5 "
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This is the first time I have heard of this kind of soldering iron, What can you tell me about how it is constructed and used.
That said, I would guess that you removed a layerf of catalyst with any filing of the tip.
Bill
--
Private Profit; Public Poop! Avoid collateral windfall!

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Salmon Egg wrote:

There are quite a range when you look for them. I've got one of the smaller ones here http://www.maplin.co.uk/Search.aspx?menuno 065 - I found the catalyst gauze very slowly wears away, and you have to get a new tip .
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Ron Jones
Process Safety & Development Specialist
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These have been around now for several years and various manufacturers have made them. I'm not sure of the chemistry myself but it relies on a gauze, coated with some sort of catalyst to promote a flameless combustion. They consist of a reservoir which you fill with butane, as you would fill a lighter and an outlet valve to control the flow.
Different tips are possible. You can just have a plain nozzle like a tiny blowlamp. A similar looking nozzle is lined with the gauze and produces a "hot gas" pencil rather than a flame. (I have used this for shrinking heatshrink sleeving)
The third possibility is the soldering tip. The business end is solid like a normal tip but there is a cavity in the back of it containing the gauze which is fed with the gas. Imagine a tapered tip which, just behind its full diameter, where it becomes parallel, has a cross hole drilled through it. Each side the hole has gauze across it and another hole drilled concentric to the bit, feeds gas into it from the reservoir behind.
In all cases the gas is turned on and lit in the normal way but after a few moments the catalytic process takes over and the flame goes out and you are just left with a glow from the hot gauze which heats the iron tip.
The OP's problem isn't due to filling the tip but just aging and deterioration of the catalyst. A new tip is required.
--
Stuart Winsor

For Barn dances and folk evenings in the Coventry and Warwickshire area
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Salmon Egg wrote:

I've had one of these for 20 years or so and still use it fairly often ! The catalyst is independent of the tip and simply supplies a flameless heat source. However it must be heated up to work ! This is done by igniting the feed gas, usually butane, which burns, heating the catalyst which then uses the butane gas stream to produce a flameless heat that continues to provide the energy to heat the tip.
Over time the nozzle issuing the gas gets gummy and the flow of gas is reduced causing a loss of heat ! The trick is to clean the nozzle. Mine simply unscrews from the gas cylinder and can be cleaned with a wire probe and meths. Turning the gas flow up to full for a few seconds also help revive the catalyst, getting it good and hot burns off any residue that may have coated it.
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Baron.
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I have a catalytic heater that I have used only once or twice. Its fuel is white gasoline. You had to wet down the the what I think was platinized asbestos and light it. It produced a sooty flame before it got hot enough to produce flameless combustion. Buyane miust be much neater to use.
I have seen cigarette lighting devices using lighter fluid and a catalyst wire that would turn red hot in the fumes and then ignite the lighter fluid. Some years ago, I saw an article by Roald Hoffmann in the American Scientist about a Napoleonic cigar lighter in a primative form of what is now a Kipp generator. It used zinc and sulfuric acid to produce hydrogen. The hydrogen was passed over a platinum wire to get lit. I then saw one of these at a scientific instrument sale with an asking price of about $1200.
Bill
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