How to Use a Solder Wick

What You'll Need
Soldering iron
Solder joint with solder to remove
Safety glasses
Exhaust fan
Safety mask

Anyone who solders should know the basics of how to use a solder wick, which is braided copper wire. This tool will help to remove solder from any solder joints that you need to change. This is an especially useful tool for those who need to remove solder from circuit boards and other electrical components. Because soldering can be difficult when you first begin, you will want to have solder wick on hand so that you will be able to repair any mistakes that you might make. The use of these wicks is very simple, and they can save you from having to replace parts that you soldered incorrectly.

Step 1 - Prepare Safety Materials

Set up the exhaust fan so that it will carry the fumes from soldering away from you. If you do not have an exhaust fan, or if the material on which you need to work is not in a location where a fan will work, you can use a safety mask. Do not forget to wear your safety goggles to protect your eyes from solder and other debris.

Step 2 - Plug in the Soldering Iron

Plug the soldering iron into the outlet and wait for it to reach a working temperature. Make sure that the iron is safely in its holder so that it does not fall out. It will generally take three to five minutes for most soldering irons to heat to their optimal temperature.

Step 3 - Use the Solder Wick

Take a length of the solder wick and hold it on the joint from which you need to remove the solder. Now that the soldering iron is heated up, you can apply the iron to the tip of the wick as well. The heat from the soldering iron will melt the solder. As the solder melts, it will be drawn onto the copper wiring. The process through which this occurs is called capillary action. The solder will fuse to the copper braids on the wick as it cools. This will remove all of the solder from the joint.

Step 4 - Cut the Wick

When the wick is coated with the solder that you want to remove, take the wick away from the heat and return the soldering iron to its holder. You can then cut off the tip of the solder wick that is now covered in solder. Check any of the other joints that might need to have solder removed and repeat the process. If you have one joint that has a large amount of solder, you may have to repeat the process.

Step 5 - Clean Up

Turn off the soldering iron and wait for it to cool down when you are finished. Dispose of the solder covered wick and clean up your work area so that it will be ready for you the next time that you have to solder.