Desoldering braid and hot air

I have mixed experience with desoldering braid. For some joints I just can’t get the tip, braid and joint in the right contact position to transfer enough heat power and draw sufficient solder out. Today I whacked the troublesome joint with hot air and touched the braid to the joint. Worked a treat. Hope it helps someone. Or maybe this is how you are supposed to use desoldering braid and I didn’t read the instructions! :grin:

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I find the trick with braid is that, in the really tight spots, you have to heat the braid with the iron and poke the loose tip into the joint on its own, rather than trying to get all 3 in the same spot. I always shy away from air until its a last resort, though my lack of luck probably has more to do with having a terrible station and inconvenient pre-heating.

Funny that you bring this up. I just did this for the first time a few days ago out of convenience. Adding a little gel flux beforehand helps a lot, and perhaps you burned out the flux from your braid like I mention below?

Slightly off topic, but why is it generally accepted to use the braid in its holder? Using the braid still connected to the holder means

  • you are heating up unnecessary metal (except for the small tweezer contact)
  • burning off the integrated flux upstream (if the braid has it integrated)
  • inevitably burning holes in the holder
  • EDIT: run the risk of the solder solidifying prematurely (due to overall lower temp due to extra thermal mass) and pulling delicate pads up

all which makes subsequent solder removal less effective.

I never use the braid in the holder and I advise any technicians I’m working with to do the same. Am I an odd-ball?


Yes, gel flux is the best. And despite using it I still end up with problems using the iron from time to time. I like the braid-removal/holding tips!

A couple of minor things when using braid -

  • Avoid touching or using braid you’ve touched (at least with bare fingers)
  • Always use fresh braid. If it’s tarnished then it sucks (but not in the right way).

I use it in the holder, but as mentioned they tend to melt - I think @Slawek is on the money with his method.

For PTH components I have the luxury of a desoldering tool - I use braid mainly for removing excess solder when drag soldering ICs.

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i don’t often see people pre heating the pcb for rework., it makes a huge difference as well as less thermal shock and potential damage.

you’re loosing a lot of the energy to the rest of the board when its not preheated and you can usually use a lower temperature to do the rework.

it makes braid, low melt etc all work much better



I have gotten in the habit recently to spend 15-30 seconds heating the bottom of the board where I intend to do rework from a few inches away just to introduce some heat into the inner layers prior to rework on the other side. Helps a lot.

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If I’m doing any non-trivial braid work, I cut a strip and use a tweezer. I make sure there’s plenty of flux and sometimes even a tiny bit of solder on the braid to help with the initial heating.

It helps to have a variety of braid widths, too, as the amount of solder that pulls is affected by how “absorbent” the strip is.

My hot-air work has gotten more consistent now when I wait about 30 seconds for the hot-air tool to stabilize before doing any actual work. Preheating the surrounding area (inculding during the initial turn-on wait) is definitely helpful for copper-heavy boards.

Yes. flux is the key. Makes all the difference as well as a mess.

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