Refurbishing an old soldering iron tip

I had a fairly worn down, corroded and old soldering iron tip on my 30-ish watt soldering iron.

So I'll just put a grinder to work on it and make the tip sharper? What could go wrong!?

Well, it turns out that grinding the coating off of a soldering iron tip and getting down to the copper core sort of ruins the tip. It doesn't work as well and doesn't take a "tinning" (coating with a fine layer of solder) as well.

So I did a bit of research and found a guy who had successfully nickel-plated an old soldering iron tip to refurbish it.

YouTube Video


There's also the comment by "dmith smith" stating that one can use vinegar instead of hydrochloric acid (muriatic acid) to make the electroplating solution.

Here's what I ended up doing (presented in GIF form).




I don't fully understand the chemistry behind this. But it seemed to work and the tip will now accept a tinning and works pretty well at its task -- soldering stuff. I'm calling it a win!

And I'm calling electroplating a pretty cool thing.