A little over a year ago I noticed that my soldering was becoming messy and I wasn’t getting the same clean results that I used to. It was taking longer for the solder to flow and when it did it wouldn’t form a solid joint. I tried raising the temperature of the soldering iron, I tried a different solder, switched to a brass sponge instead of a wet sponge (a worthwhile upgrade) and tried using a tip tinner and cleaner. Nothing I tried worked so I decided to buy a new tip for my soldering iron. When the new soldering tip arrived it became obvious why I was struggling. Comparing the new tip with my old one I could see that after more than a year of using my soldering iron the tip had built up a significant layer of oxidation.
Instead of putting on the new tip I decided to try to get some more life out of my old one.. I pulled out my Dremel and put in the 280 grit buffing wheel. After a few quick passes my soldering tip looked just as good as the brand new one and worked great. I made a video to demonstrate how you can clean your own soldering iron tip at home.
If you feel like soldering is harder than it used to be you might have the same issue. I highly recommend this method for cleaning the oxidation off of your soldering iron tip. Not only will you get cleaner results when soldering, you can save yourself some money by extending the life of your current soldering iron tip.