How to Desolder

Two Methods:Using a Desoldering PumpUsing a Desoldering Braid

To salvage or replace electronic components on circuit boards, you need to be able to desolder the connections to remove components. Two of the most popular methods include using a desoldering pump or a desoldering braid.

Method 1
Using a Desoldering Pump

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    Locate the terminals for the component to be removed. A desoldering pump method is typically used when you need to remove soldered components from a circuitboard by desoldering the piece holding the component to the board. By thoroughly examining both sides of the board, you can isolate the specific spots holding your specific component in place.
    • You can easily ruin a circuitboard by accidentally separating the board layers during the desoldering process, so ensure that you only desolder the exact pins you need to remove a faulty component.
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    Clean the terminals. Using isopropyl alcohol on a toothbrush, gently clean the terminals of the component(s) to be removed.[1] Ensure that you clean only the terminals on the soldered side of the board and not anything on the component side.
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    Clean your soldering iron as it heats. Using a wet sponge make quick passes from base to tip over your soldering iron to clean it.[2]
    • You may see a tiny bit of smoke as you pass the sponge, but it’s just from the moisture in the sponge.
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    Heat the old solder with your soldering iron. Using the tip of your soldering iron, heat the old solder until it melts enough to be sucked up by the desoldering pump. Using the soldering iron to push at the terminal while melting it can also help free the component as the old solder melts.[3]
    • If you have an older soldering iron, you may want to use that one for this process since pushing at the terminal while melting it can add additional wear to an iron.
    • If the old, hardened solder doesn’t want to melt, you can actually use a new piece of solder to help the process along, but you should remove the mix quickly so as not to leave yourself with even more to remove as it dries.[4]
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    Vacuum the melted solder with the desoldering pump. A desoldering pump is a sealed, spring-activated tube that can safely vacuum up the melted solder from the circuitboard. After loading the desoldering pump and immediately after melting the old solder, place the tip of the desoldering pump over the terminal and release the spring to vacuum up the old solder.[5]
    • You want to immediately empty the tube of the removed solder by following your specific desoldering pump’s directions to clear it after each pass at a terminal. Otherwise, the old solder can leak back out as you go to vacuum the next terminal.
    • A terminal, especially with old solder, can take multiple passes with the soldering iron and pump before the component is free. You can also gently wiggle the component from the opposite side of the circuitboard to help free it once the solder has been removed.[6]
    • Due to the speed at which the melted solder can reset, you need to do one terminal at a time rather than melting each terminal before trying to pump them. For the most efficient method, you should also use the desoldering iron with one hand while having the desoldering pump at the ready in the other.

Method 2
Using a Desoldering Braid

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    Locate the terminals of the component to be removed. The same as with a desoldering pump, you need to locate the specific terminals to be de-soldered in order to free the pins of the component you want to remove. Examine both sides of the circuitboard to locate the exact terminals you need to desolder.
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    Heat up the soldering iron. Once you have plugged in and heated your soldering iron, it’s actually helpful to melt a tiny bit of extra soldering wire onto the tip of your iron.[7] The new bit of solder will form a mixture with the old solder connection as each melts that helped the soldering braid to absorb the old, melted solder.
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    Touch the melted solder on the iron to the joint. This process speeds up the melting of the joint.
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    Place the desoldering braid on the joint. The desoldering braid (also known as desoldering wick) is a fine braid of copper strands that when placed over molten solder forces the melted material to work into the braid.[8] Place the tip of the soldering iron on top of the braid over the joint to help keep the solder molten and absorbable.
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    Wait until the solder has been fully absorbed by the braid. It can take several seconds for the braid to absorb the molten solder.
    • The desoldering braid is treated with a flux coating that once used will no longer draw in the molten solder, so you will need to unspool new braid as you desolder several joints.[9]
    • Always hold the braid by the bobbin on which it is spooled because the copper does conduct heat and can cause burns if handled directly.[10]
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    Wait for the part that was heated to cool. After giving the pin by which the component was connected about thirty seconds to cool, you should easily be able to remove the piece.
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    Use the desoldering braid on both sides of the board when applicable. If the board is plated with metal on both sides and has metal through holes, then desoldering only one side with the braid may not free the pin. In this event, repeat the same steps on the component side of the board as well, taking extra precaution to keep the braid and soldering iron away from the components and only on the solder to be removed. Once both sides of each through hole are clear, the piece should easily free from the board.[11]


  • Soldering irons are hot! Always be very careful while handling your iron.
  • Lead-based solder smoke can be very bad for you. Desolder in a well-ventilated area and wear proper eye and breathing protection.
  • When using a desoldering braid, make sure to hold the braid by the bobbin on which it is spooled because the copper braid itself does conduct heat.
  • The spring loading mechanism of some desoldering pumps occasionally gets loose and may do damage to your eyes, so always point the pumps' back end away from your face.

Things You'll Need

  • Soldering iron
  • Desoldering braid
  • Soldering wire
  • Cleaning sponge
  • Desoldering pump
  • Breathing and eye protection
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Toothbrush

Article Info

Categories: Tools