A desoldering braid, also called a desoldering wick, is a braided cord of very small gauge wire. It removes solder through capillary action, the same process that causes water to "climb" up a paper towel. Effective desoldering requires some practice, so try removing components from junk circuit boards before moving on to your own projects.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Soldering iron, 15 - 30 watt.
- Desoldering braid
Plug in the soldering iron and set in its holder while it heats up. Use a 15-30 W soldering iron. Using a hotter iron may overheat the board. Unspool some of the desoldering braid. You're only going to use a few centimetres on the end, but give yourself enough slack to make it easy to work.
Dampen a sponge and squeeze out the excess water. When the soldering iron is hot, wipe it quickly on the sponge to remove any solder on the tip. The sponge will smoke a little. That's normal, but don't leave the iron on the sponge long enough to burn it.
Place the end of the braid over the join you want to desolder, and hold it in place with the iron so that the braid is sandwiched between the iron and the solder pad. The braid will get hot, so keep your fingers away from the part near the iron. It may help to hold the braid with a pair of needle nose pliers. When the braid heats up, the solder will melt and flow into the braid through capillary action. Remove the braid and iron as soon as it has soaked up the solder.
Clip off and discard any part of the braid with solder on it. Check that the solder is completely removed from the pad on the circuit board, and that the lead of the component you're trying to remove has come loose. If there is still solder on the pad, wait for the board to cool, then resolder the connection before attempting to remove it again. Trying to apply the braid again without adding solder to the connection may apply too much heat to the board and damage it.
Tips and warnings
- Applying too much heat to a circuit board risks damaging components and the copper traces on the board. Take special care if you are working near sensitive components such as integrated circuits (ICs.)
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