Solder pots are temperature-controlled pots filled with molten solder and used to solder or tin components. Using a solder pot can be faster than hand-soldering with an iron on some electronic parts. A solder pot can also be used for desoldering through-hole electronic components like connectors near the edge of a PCB.
For tinning freshly stripped wire leads, a solder pot is also the way to go.
How to Use a Solder Pot
Below are the necessary steps to use your solder pot effectively:
1. Charging the Pot (Initial Fill) – When loading Solder into a new (empty) pot for the first time, make sure that your solder bar is making contact with the bottom of the pot. It’s even better if you can cut the bar into 1-2” chunks, as they will melt faster.
2. Turn the solder pot on to liquefy the solder. The temperature you run the solder pot will depend on which solder alloy you have loaded into it. Typically, the pot temperature should be set to about 80-150° degrees Fahrenheit above the melting point of the solder in the pot. Whether your solder pot is an analog (dial-controlled) one or a digital model, it’s best not to run it at >85% of the maximum temperature for extended periods.
3. If you want to verify the temperature of the solder pot, you should use an external thermometer like this one that we offer.
4. Whether you are just tinning (adding a solderable surface to) wire leads or soldering a component like a connector, you must first dip the part into liquid flux. The right flux is needed to allow the solder to “wet to” or bond to the parts. Only flux as high up the part as you want the solder to flow – no higher, as flux that doesn’t contact molten solder is corrosive.
5. After fluxing, dip your component into the surface of the molten solder. Dwell (hold) time depends on how large the component is, but typical soldering contact time is 1 – 4 seconds.
6. Slowly remove the part from the pot, being careful not to disturb the solder while it is still cooling and solidifying.
7. Periodically skim the surface of the molten solder with either a skimmer or a spatula to remove the buildup of oxidized solder (dross). Some solder pots like this American Beauty come with a mounted dross remover
8. Operate carefully around the molten solder so you don’t get burned. For safety and consistent results consider making a fixture to hold the parts while dipping them. It is recommended to wear safety gloves while dip soldering.
9. When you are finished, skim the dross off the surface before turning off the pot.
Using a solder pot can be an effective method for soldering, desoldering and tinning certain components.