Soldering irons are hand-held tools that are used to apply heat through a metal tip, enabling the melting of solder wire in order to create fixings and perform small welding-like operations. Melting solder helps it to flow into the joint between the heating element and a piece of work, this then becomes a strong joint once the solder has cooled and hardened.
Soldering irons are often supplied with a stand so that the heated iron can be safely secured while not in operation, rather than risking potential damage by putting the tool down directly on the work surface. For more information about soldering irons, soldering iron kits, and all the equipment you need to solder, please see our soldering irons guide.
What types of soldering irons are there?
Due to the numerous applications soldering can be used for, there are different types of soldering irons to meet different requirements. Each type has its own benefits, which we have listed below. Soldering irons can also be found in soldering gun form with a pistol-like grip for ease of use in many applications. Soldering guns also benefit from a 'pull to use' trigger system meaning the iron isn't permanently at full heat and can be easily activated by the user as and when it is required.
Lead-free, gas-powered soldering irons are normally fuelled by butane gas, which is stored in a reservoir or tank that can be refilled or replaced, depending on the model. These irons are especially useful when there is no mains power available in the area where soldering will be taking place, and their cordless design allows for more freedom of movement when tight or difficult angles are involved.
Used mainly for occasional repairs, gas powered soldering irons can have an adjustable temperature range that can be controlled due to the ability to adjust the gas flame.
Perhaps the most commonly found in workshops and school technology departments, electrical soldering irons maintain a consistent temperature due to being plugged into the mains. This can make them easier to use, especially for repetitive work, as there is a guaranteed temperature at all times which helps to maintain accuracy. Suitable for both soldering or desoldering work, electric soldering irons are more likely to feature a built-in socket that enables the replacement and switching of iron tips. This can allow for easy and efficient tooling changes during a project, allowing the user to switch between iron tip types to best suit their requirements.
Battery-powered soldering irons are fitted with rechargeable or replaceable batteries, making them quick to set up and easy to operate. They are another cordless version of the tool, giving more freedom of movement without the worry of a trailing power cord getting in the way. They are easily portable, making them ideal for on-the-go professional tradespeople or DIY use.
Who uses soldering irons?
Soldering iron kits are used in a variety of applications, including pyrography, electronics assembly, workshops, repairing components and creating detailed artwork. They are commonly used in the assembly of PCB boards and can be used to repair electronic components within a larger system.