How to Desolder by Using Tape
By Cindy Quarters
When you are working with solder, sometimes it is necessary to remove previously attached components or excess solder. One way to do this is to use a vacuum removal tool, often called a solder sucker. Another way to remove solder is by using desoldering tape, sometimes also called solder wick. Desoldering tape is made of copper strands woven together to make a flat tape that heats up quickly when a soldering iron is applied to it. The tape will readily absorb melted solder. Desoldering tape is especially useful when removing solder that is securing integrated circuits to a printed circuit board.
Plug in the soldering iron and allow it to heat completely. Solder removal will not work unless the soldering iron is hot enough to heat the tape and melt the solder.
Add a small bit of new solder to the older solder that you want to remove. This often helps with the removal process. If you are removing solder which was recently added, you can skip this step.
Lay the desoldering tape on the joint you wish to desolder. It should make full contact with the soldered joint.
Place the soldering iron on the desoldering tape. Do not touch the iron to the solder itself; apply it to the tape only.
Heat the desoldering tape for several seconds. Wait for the solder to melt. It will flow into the braided tape. When the solder stops flowing, quickly lift the tape. The solder should be removed from the area.
- If the solder does not come out fully, add some new solder and repeat the process. Sometimes it also helps to add a bit of flux to the desoldering tape. If there is a large amount of solder to be removed, you can use a solder sucker--a tool that uses a sudden burst of vacuum to remove liquefied solder--to remove the excess before you use the desoldering tape.
- A soldering iron and the solder get very hot. Use care to avoid the burns. Always wear eye protection. If you overheat a soldered joint, you may damage the components you are trying to desolder. If you are working with an electronic circuit board, overheating can cause the traces to be lifted from the board.