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Picking up solder with wick

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Do you have trouble picking up solder with wick? I know I do.

After endless cursing, I decided to try something new today - adding some flux to the wick.

It worked very well.

I was doing some TQFP soldering and ended up with a huge blob of solder all over 1 of the sides. Tried to pick it up with just the wick for 20 minutes. No success.

The wick with flux picked ALL the solder up in about half a second. The pins became unsoldered!

Just thought I would share this.

Yeah, its a good tip for people who've not used solder wick before.

You normally have to wet the solder wick with some solder before you start.
Just like you sometimes need to apply solder to the pin of a component to be able to unsolder it.

The reason is because you need to get an object hot to be able to solder/unsolder it and a piece of metal has to many microscopic pits/groves to make good thermal contact with another object. Putting some solder on it fills in all the pits/groves and vastly improves the thermal contact. This allows the object you're soldering to get nice and hot even with most of the heat bleeding away. The flux in the solder also helps a lot by cleaning the metal.

You can also use a big chisel tip on your iron when using solder wick, that helps get the heat to where you need it.

No wonder why I have always had trouble with wick. Tried this and worked like a champ. Now I can finally put the vacuum pump to rest. Good riddance too as I have used it to the extent of the solder melting the plastic innards.

There is a huge difference between different brands - Chemtronics Soder-Wick is by far the best I've used - size 4 is about right - smaller stuff saturates too quickly - if you need a fine point just cut it at an angle.
Place the wick on the joint and the iron on the wick- solder likes to travel towards the heat.
The flux in the Chemtronics stuff works well, but some extra flux never hurts.

I bought some cheap wick from eBay and it didn't wick at all, though I haven't tried adding flux. I picked one up from Jaycar, labelled with the same brand, and it worked fine. Beware dodgy counterfeits!


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