Ever find yourself in a situation where you have to remove a part from a circuit board? If you damage a component while soldering, then desoldering can save your circuit board!
If a board has a problem and you need to replace a component, you’ll need to desolder the old part first. There are all sorts of ways to remove components from a circuit.
We’ll run through the most known methods on how to desolder as well as some of the common tools you’ll see at workbenches worldwide along the way.
What Is Desoldering?
Essentially, it’s the process of heating the metal alloys in a circuit to their melting point and removing the joints between the material. In simple words, desoldering is the opposite of soldering.
Desoldering is commonly used in electronics to refer to the removal of all electrical components from a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) for repairing, replacing, or troubleshooting.
The process of desoldering can be complicated, but if you follow one of the methods below and stick to safety measures, you’ll get the hang of it eventually.
How to Desolder?
Basically, desoldering is all about heating up the solder, which is the metal alloy on the board, and getting the wires or components out nicely from the circuit or assembly.
In this segment, you’ll learn the popular ways used to desolder components from circuits, as well as the pros and cons of each method. So let’s get started!
Method 1: Using a Soldering Iron
In this method, you’ll only need a soldering iron. A soldering iron is a tool that uses electricity to heat up and melt the alloys. You can use this tool to join pieces together or desolder them. Here’s how the process goes:
Connect your soldering iron to the nearest power plug and start heating up the solder with it
Gently move the tip of the soldering iron along the terminals for the components you want to be removed
Clean out the flowing solder and stash it away
-You don’t need a lot of tools, just the soldering iron
-A fairly easy job
-This method might not be the most effective as you can damage the board if you leave the heated tip on it for too long
Method 2: Using a Desoldering Braid (Desoldering Wick)
A desoldering braid, also known as a desoldering wick, is a simple desoldering method used to soak up the solder. The coil is made up of braided wire copper strands.
To remove the solder, hold the braid near a heat source, and the solder will flow into the braid. Some desoldering braid comes with flux within them that’ll help with clean removal.
If your desoldering braid doesn’t contain flux, then you can apply it by dipping the section of the braid you’ll use into flux.
In this method, you’ll need the desoldering braid and a soldering iron. Here’s how to start the process:
Uncoil a few inches from the desoldering braid depending on your needs
Put the braid carefully over the part you want to desolder
You can use a pair of snipe-nose pliers to position the braid however you like to avoid getting burned
Place the tip of the heated soldering iron against the braid
Wait for a couple of seconds, and you’ll notice the solder flowing off the board and onto the wick
Remove the braid carefully as, at this stage, the wick will be very hot to touch
-The desoldering braid is easy to use, affordable, and available in multiple sizes depending on what best suits your needs
-It’s great to use for removing solder from flat surfaces
-The braid itself isn’t reusable because every time you use a segment, you’ll have to change it and start with a clean part
-Some find it hard to reposition the wick after heating it up
-If the braid is too large, it might be difficult to heat it up and time-consuming to desolder many joints
Method 3: Using a Desoldering Pump
A desoldering pump is a helpful tool for removing molten solder from a printed circuit board.
Desoldering pumps come in two main styles, one that resembles a syringe with a plunger and one with a bulb to squeeze.
The design of the pump allows it to act like a small, hand-powered vacuum that sucks up excess solder.
To use one, you first heat up the solder and then use the pump to suck up the molten metal. The steps for using a hand-powered desoldering pump are straightforward:
Start heating the solder you want to be removed by placing the soldering iron on it
There are some desoldering pump models that come with their own attached soldering irons
Push down on the plunger to prepare the pump, and if you have a bulb pump, squeeze the bulb
Place the tip of the desoldering pump against the molten solder and release the bulb or plunger to suck it all up
Finally, remove the excess solder or the component you want quickly as the solder can harden again
Get rid of the solder inside the pump by pressing down repeatedly on the plunger or squeezing the bulb over a trash can
-Desoldering pumps are available in a variety of models, from hand-held pumps to electronic ones that don’t require you to have an extra soldering iron
-They’re great for getting solder out of tiny pin holes
-The pumps themselves can be larger and harder to move into small places
-The bulb pump may require more dexterity than other models, which can make it difficult to handle
If this is your first time desoldering, you might be thrown off by the myriad of ways to desolder components. Some of them work better than others depending on your needs, and there’s no one magic tool that can solve all problems.
Instead, it really relies on what you’re trying to achieve. Either way, we hope this article has given you the introduction that you need on how to desolder!