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Re: no longer melts solder with tip....
You have burned out residue on the tip. Clead it off with a damp cloth when the iron is hot. If this doesn't get it all, use steel wool. Immediately afterwards, get flux & solder onto the tip or it will get coated again.
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try reshaping the tip to a dull point with a file or grinder. Then heat it up and apply solder onto the bare copper tip coating it completely. you can clean the excess off with a wet sponge. This is called "Tinning" tthe tip.
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Consider the wattage of the soldering iron. A good soldering iron will have wattage of 80 to 150. A wattage of lower than 80 is not ideal for stained glass. You need a soldering iron that will melt the solder fast enough for your project. Consider the type of temperature control you want. Some irons will have a temperature control built in the tip. When the temperature drops, it will turn on and when the temperature is reached, it will turn off. Other soldering irons have a built-in rheostat. You control the temperature by turning the dial up or down. A separate rheostat can be purchased to plug your soldiering iron into. Rheostats are highly recommended. This lets you match your temperature to your soldering style and allow you to do decorative effects.
Consider the heating element. There are two types of elements, ceramic or wire-wrapped. Ceramic core irons maintain heat more efficiently than wound wire heaters. In a ceramic core, the heater core extends into the tip for faster heat transfer. This will keep the tip hot for a longer period so you can work quickly and faster. Ceramic irons maintain their temperature longer and heat up within 30 to 60 seconds.
Consider the weight of the soldering iron. You want a soldering iron that is lightweight and balanced. You will have less fatigue when using a lightweight soldering iron at long stretches of time. Check to see if it fits your hand comfortably. Check to see if it has a good rubber cushion for your hand.
Check for the ease of changing tips on your soldering iron. When soldering stained glass, you want to match your tip to the technique you want to use. There are a variety of tips on the market for soldering irons, and you want to be able to change them easily.
Check the soldering iron to see if it has a heavy-duty cord and a three-prong plug. You want a grounded three-prong plug to prevent the possibility of shock.
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What probably happened is that the tip oxidized (typically made of copper) and the oxidation layer is a very poor conductor. You should be able to go on Google or Amazon and find a new tip for your iron. They cost about $5 and it should be good as new.
I would also recommend tinning your tip everytime you are done soldering. All you have to do is put enough solder on the tip to cover it (usually only about 1/2") and then turn off the iron and let the solder dry. This will help prolong the life of the new tip.
That is normal for a soldering gun especially if you are using acid core solder. I do a lot of soldering with rosin core & have to change the tip about every 6-8 months. Just get a couple of new tips. Rick
# Never touch the element or tip of the soldering iron.
They are very hot (about 400°C) and will give you a nasty burn.
# Take great care to avoid touching the mains flex with the tip of the iron.
The iron should have a heatproof flex for extra protection. An ordinary plastic flex will melt immediately if touched by a hot iron and there is a serious risk of burns and electric shock.
# Always return the soldering iron to its stand when not in use.
Never put it down on your workbench, even for a moment!
# Work in a well-ventilated area.
The smoke formed as you melt solder is mostly from the flux and quite irritating. Avoid breathing it by keeping you head to the side of, not above, your work.