What is a Solder Wick and How to use it

Everything You Need to Know About Solder Wick and Its Usage

What is a Solder Wick and How to use it

Solder wick is known to all electricians and those interested in electronics. The tool has many names.

Some call it solder wick, while others have other names, like solder braid. It helps remove excess solder, so it plays a significant role in replacing the components of electronic circuits or devices.

Have you recently encountered solder wicks and are confused about their application and use? Here is the perfect guide for you.

Whether you want to know what is a solder wick or its usage, we will discuss everything in detail for your convenience.

So, let’s not waste time. Get to this beneficial guide about solder wicks and their role in wicking solder.

What is a Solder Wick?

Solder wick is a beneficial tool. It removes any already soldered components and is used during the solder re-working process.

It consists of braided copper wire between 18 and 42 AWG. It is an efficient way to get rid of solder from a circuit, helping bridge joints and remove unnecessary components.

You can either use a solder wick or a desolder pump to wick the solder. However, solder wicks have copper, an exceptional conductor of heat that helps in the process.

Heating attracts solder inside the circuit and removes it without affecting or damaging it. Also, it doesn’t cause thermal stress to the circuit or other components around it.

Moreover, you must know that solder wicks come in various sizes. They also have different fluxes to help in a faster and more efficient wick soldering process.

Does Flux of a Solder Wick Matters?

As we mentioned earlier, a solder wick comes in varying fluxes. There is no denying that the more flux in the braided tool, the more efficient it is. Flux helps speed up the process.

The flux plays a significant role in cleaning up the heating surface. Therefore, it enhances the solder flow, speeding up the process.

This is why it is said that the best solder wick is the one with a suitable flux.

The experts suggest adding flux to a solder wick that doesn’t already have it. Moreover, you can add it to a tool that might already have it but is old.

This is because the efficiency of the flux in a solder wick might be affected as it ages.

How Do You Activate the Flux of a Solder Wick?

If you are working with a solder wick with flux, activate it before your wicking solder process. To do this, you must heat the wick placed on the targeted area with soldered joints.

In the other scenario, you must put it on the areas with soldering iron. Once all the soldered joints heat, the flux is activated automatically.

How to Use a Solder Wick?

Using a solder wick is straightforward. So, stop stressing out and look at these simple steps for help.

Step 1

You only have to put the wick’s end over the solder you want to eliminate.

Step 2

After that, you must place your heated side of the solder over it.

Step 3

Once the braid starts heating up, the wicking solder process starts. You can see the solder getting pulled out and onto the tool. If you haven’t seen the wick soldering process before, you will see how satisfying and easy it is.

Using Solder Wick for Small Joints

Solder wicking works quite efficiently for small joints, too. You can cut the end of the wick at any angle, which gives you an exact point for the process.

Can you Reuse a Solder Wick?

Is this your first time wicking solder? If so, you should know you can easily clean and reuse the solder wick even when it gets saturated. You can cut that portion off if your tool has too much solder during the process. Your solder wick will be ready to be used again.

However, if you are dealing with a considerable portion or amount of solder, it is suggested that you use a desoldering station.

After removing the massive amount of solder with the help of the station, you can use solder wick to tidy everything up.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Solder Wick

Let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of solder wick now.

Advantages of Solder Wick

  • Speeds up the process — We have already discussed this advantage of the solder wick. If you use a solder wick, the wicking solder process speeds up significantly. It removes the circuit board solder residue, reducing repair time.
  • Protection Against Damages – Another great benefit of a solder wick is that it protects the circuit and its components. It provides excellent protection to the delicate components of the circuit during the repairing or soldering process.
  • Cost-Effective – Using a solder wick is quite a cost-effective way to remove solder residue from your circuits.
  • Convenient to Use — This braided piece of wire is very convenient. Its usage does not involve complex procedures.
  • Helps in Bridging — By wicking solderusing copper wire, you can easily remove solder from the components to connect various components.
  • Keeps the Joints Tidy — You will not have to worry about stubborn solder residue if you use a solder wick. This copper wire tool helps tidy the joints efficiently.

Disadvantages of Solder Wick

  • Becomes Saturated — The most significant disadvantage of solder wick is that this braided copper wire becomes saturated. Therefore, you cannot use it repeatedly, making the tool less effective. You can either remove the used part of the solder wick or get a new one.
  • Careful Usage – While discussing the process of wicking solder using the braided copper wire, we discussed that it requires heating. You will have to heat the soldered area that you are working with. This process, if not done carefully, can be harmful to the delicate components of the circuit. Therefore, it requires you to be precise and careful. So, beginners might have difficulty safely and properly using the solder braid.
  • Can Get Hot — As heating is integral to the procedure, the solder wick can get hot, making it hard to hold. Therefore, you will have to use proper tools to hold the wire. Make sure to keep your tweezers or pliers with you while wicking solder.
  • Might Not Clean Perfectly — Even though the solder wick is an efficient tool for treating solder residue, it might not clean it thoroughly. So, after you have cleaned the solder with the tool, you must use a solvent or any other tool to clean it properly.
  • Tricky Use while Dealing with Holes – Using a solder wick on holes is not very simple. You will require more expertise and precision.

How to Choose the Best Soldering Tip for Your PCB Job?

1. Consider Varying Sizes

We have already discussed the availability of varying varieties of solder wicks. To ensure a smooth soldering job, it is vital that you know about and consider the shape and size of the tip. You will have to see if the size of the tip you use and the contact pad match.

If the sizes of the solder wick tip and the contact pad align, you will have maximum surface area.

Therefore, you can heat both surfaces quickly and easily. If the tip volume is greater, it will hinder the whole wick soldering process. The tip’s heating time will also increase. It might also interfere with the other parts or components.

On the contrary, transferring the heat from the tip to the contact pad will become more time-consuming and difficult if the tip is too small.

So, ensure that the size of your soldering tip matches the size of your contact pad on the circuit.

2. Choose the Right Tip Type

Soldering tips come in various shapes. The type you choose depends on the geometry of your circuit board. Do you want to know about multiple shapes of soldering tips? We have you covered. Here is a list of some soldering tip types.

  • Blade or knife
  • Pointed or conical
  • Chisel or screwdriver
  • Bevel
  • Flow tips

Tips to Prevent Solder Wicking

Even though wicking solder is easy, many people still find it frustrating. You will be happy to know that you can prevent it. Here are some tips that will help.

  • Make sure there is not much of a temperature difference between the pad and the lead.
  • Try to slow down the melting time of solder while dealing with a specific area.
  • You can use a heat sink to avoid overheating of the components.
  • The pad should be easily wettable by the solder.
  • Monitor the gap size between the circuit board and the metal pad.

Summing Up

Now, you must clearly know how a wick solder is among the most effective ways to remove soldered surfaces from the circuit. You might also be curious how to remove solder without wick.

No doubt there are other ways of carrying out the procedure, too, but most experts prefer wicking solder for better results.

This guide will help you with all your following solder-wicking projects. Don’t forget to be careful and take expert help if necessary.