Man Soldering Wires with pencil Soldering Iron

Soldering Irons – How to Use Them Properly

What are soldering irons?

A soldering iron is a handheld tool used in soldering. This is a process where solder (a fusible metal alloy typically a wire) is heated to a high temperature with the tip of the soldering iron. As the solder melts, it can be directed with the tip to flow into the joint between two workpieces or components.

Once the solder has settled in its new position, it cools and hardens, which creates a fixed bond that remains in place until the solder is reheated. The process of reheating the existing solder between components or workpieces for repurposing is known as desoldering.

How are you able to use them?

Soldering irons are usually plugged into the wall and deliver their heat through electricity that heats up the metal soldering tip via a heating element. There are many types of cordless soldering irons available that allow for increased dexterity and ease of use.

Soldering irons have an insulated handle with a suitable grip that allows for precise manoeuvres and intricate handiwork. Handles come in all shapes and sizes, and the soldering iron can even come with a nitrogen supply. The nitrogen supply minimises the oxidising effect during the solder joint formation and results in higher soldering quality. 

How to use soldering irons properly

Depending on the project you’re working on, the actual soldering process itself may vary. Taking this into consideration, we’ve put together a list of general step-by-step instructions that explain how to approach get the best results from your soldering project.

Temperature control

You should always know the right temperature that you need to work at for your project. Whatever this temperature is, you should not exceed it. Unnecessarily exposing your tools and materials to a higher than required temperature could damage them. Additionally, the soldering iron tool station you pick should reach the required temperature quickly and precisely as this will improve work time resulting in greater productivity and reduced costs.

Heat the metal, not the solder

Once you have determined the correct temperature, you then need to pick up your iron by the insulated handle and heat the metal components where you want to make the connection. Have your solder wire ready in your other hand before you begin this process. Having a solder reel stand for your solder wire will make this process easier and a lot less stressful.

Apply sufficient solder

Once you have heated the metal components, you can begin to apply your solder. Make sure that you feed enough solder to make a strong connection. However, you don’t want to add too much solder, so this process usually takes just a few seconds. If you’re worried about solder bridges forming between closely spaced solder pads then use a solder mask. A solder mask is a thin lacquer-like layer of polymer that is applied to printed circuit boards for protection against oxidation and to prevent solder bridges.

Let it cool down

Once you’ve finished applying the solder, you need to give it time to cool. This process will harden the alloy and form the desired connection between components. Once cooled, the solder should appear glossy and form a strong, level bond.


Desoldering is a process that allows you to rectify mistakes. If you haven’t applied too much solder, you may be able to simply apply more solder on top of what you have already melted to form a stronger connection. Also take into consideration the thickness and size of the PCB that you are working on, as you may need a preheater before soldering or desoldering to avoid dissipation of heat from the solder tip.

If you have applied too much solder, then you can use a vacuum tool to suck up and remove excess solder so you can start the process again. Alternatively, you can use a desoldering braid (wick), which is a pre-fluxed copper braid that is used to remove solder. After you have removed the unwanted solder use a flux remover and swab to clean up the areas around the component and to remove any excess flux.

Health and safety with soldering irons

As we’ve explained, soldering irons can be used for all sorts of purposes. You might need to make minor tweaks to a simple household appliance, or you could be building a complex component that fits into a larger electrical system.

Before you begin soldering, you should always read the manual provided with your equipment and make sure you feel safe and comfortable to proceed. Regardless of your skill level or what you are using a soldering iron for, there are some essential health and safety tips you should follow at all times.

Never touch the heating element of a soldering iron

The heating element on soldering irons can reach anywhere from 200°C to 480°C! While the soldering iron is turned on, the only part you should ever touch is the insulated handle, which is sometimes referred to as the wand.

Use tweezers and clamps where necessary

Tweezers and clamps should be used to hold wires that you are going to solder, or when holding components that are about to be (or already have been) soldered.

Return your soldering iron to its stand when not in use

Do not put your soldering iron down on the table or hold it in your off-hand while preparing equipment with your other hand. Always place it back in the stand to prevent it from becoming damaged or from burning through other materials. Certain stands, like JBC’s stands, have smart features and will automatically send the soldering tool to sleep when detected in the stand.

Keep the cleaning sponge damp

Every time you take your iron off the stand to use it, it’s a good idea to wipe it with the cleaning sponge to make sure it’s clean and ready to use. However, a dry sponge will damage the tip. Soldering iron tips are crucial in the soldering process, so make sure you are caring for your tips properly. Make sure your cleaning sponge is kept damp with di-water while you are working.

Turn off and unplug your unit when not in use

If you leave your soldering station on while it’s not in use, the tip will heat to the maximum temperature, which can cause it to heavily oxidise. This will damage the tip. Leaving a hot tool unattended also poses a significant health and safety risk, which is another reason why you should always turn off your unit and unplug it when you aren’t using it. That is why JBC soldering irons have smart technology that puts the soldering iron into sleep/hibernation mode when they are not being used.

What are soldering irons used for?

The most common use of soldering irons is for circuit boards, electrical wiring and PCB assembly, but they are also used in a wide variety of applications. Whether you’re a DIY novice or an experienced electrical engineer, soldering irons provide a versatile solution for assembling or rectifying workplace and domestic appliances.

Broadly speaking, soldering irons can be used for two main purposes: soldering and desoldering. However, within these categories, soldering irons can be used to build, repair, augment and deconstruct a limitless number of devices.

If you’re using a soldering iron for the first time, you should be aware that soldering iron tips can reach very high temperatures. You might be using a soldering iron to repair the joint between two components, but if the temperature of the tip is too hot, you may end up accidentally damaging those components. You could also harm yourself if you aren’t properly equipped or experienced.

This is why it’s important to understand what your soldering iron is capable of. Most soldering irons work by presetting a temperature before you begin, which means you will always know how hot the tip is while you are working.

There are more advanced soldering irons available that have adjustable temperature features, meaning you can have greater control over the heat of the tip. We would recommend that this type of soldering iron is only used by more experienced engineers.

What is the best type of soldering iron?

There are different types of soldering irons that can be used for a range of tasks by users of all skill levels. We have stocked many of these soldering irons over the years, and have experienced them both firsthand and through our customer feedback.

From what we have seen ourselves and heard through our customers, JBC is the standout producer of soldering irons. They provide a broad range of tools that are suitable for all manner of soldering tasks and continue to innovate the soldering market where other competitors remain complacent. Each and every one of their products is designed specifically for its purpose, whether that’s for precision, power, or high-power soldering.

Start your soldering journey today!

You don’t have to be an expert to use a soldering iron. However, you do have to be aware of health and safety to prevent risks to yourself, your equipment and others around you. If you’d like to begin soldering, whether it’s for a DIY project or simply to try your hand at it, you should prioritise safety awareness at all times. 

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