Soldering Station vs Soldering Iron
I've been receiving queries through my contact form on my blog lately https://solderingexpert.com/ asking what is the difference between a soldering iron and a soldering station. As far as formal difference goes, I'm not 100% sure I can answer that as I can't seem to find any actual definition of the differences. However, in general there are some differences that most in the electronics community will agree distinguish these two tools. Basically a soldering iron is the thing you hold with your hands (the pencil part), but with a station this isn't the only part. While a soldering iron may not always have the ability to adjust temperature on the fly, and station will usually have built in temperature control. Another feature common with stations but not always irons is the stand part, or the place to store it while it's not turned on, as well as the area for the sponge which allows you to clean the tip.
If you happen to be using lead free solder you may need a station as a hotter temp is required to melt the solder.
Another question people in the electronics community often ask is: How do I clean my soldering iron tip. find out here https://solderingexpert.com/clean-your-soldering-iron/ While I can't speak for everyone does this process I'm happy to share what works in my opinion. Cleaning your soldering tips is actually vary crucial in maintaining your soldering iron, and keeping it in good shape so it won't die. Oxidation and general wear and tear will quickly ruin the metal if you don't look after it properly. You can tell when it's in need of a thorough clean when you see deposits becoming visible on the surface of the metal. To check for this hold it up to a light so you can see clearly and oxidation taking place. The way I normally use to clean it is by using a combination of flux and solder. you can buy pre-made solutions especially made for this which is what I do, and highly recommend. After the application of the solution make sure to re-tin the tip before you use it again. If you don't re-tin the tip it won't hold melted solder as easily. All this considered, if it's still performing poorly maybe it's time to buy a new one.