Ghetto repairs: Desoldering with a candle

Yes, that picture you are seeing is serious. [Roland] needed a chip for a damaged piece of electronics. He was lucky enough to find one on an old board at a local shop. The problem was, he didn’t have the hot air gun to remove the chip the correct way. Instead, he simply cooked the board over a candle to melt the solder. Interestingly, after he cleaned the candle-cooked board, it looked like it survived without damage. The chip worked fine and fixed his problems. Sometimes, we just don’t have the right tools for the job.

[via HackedGadgets]


  1. darkore says:

    This isn’t anything more than lucky. Definitely not something I’d recommend to anyone.

  2. medix says:

    Mmmmmm… toxic.

  3. xoxplox says:

    Why am I reading Hackaday?

  4. Brad Hein says:

    Yikes! I’m glad it worked!

    Honestly though I would have just used a solder sucker and soldering iron to clear away solder from each pin, then use a flathead screwdriver to knock loose each pin, then voila, pull out the chip.

  5. nebulous says:

    @ xoxplox
    I don’t care why. More importantly, why are you posting on Hackaday?

  6. Pouncer says:

    I hate to admit that I’ve kinda done this, but with an electric cook top to heat the board. And yes lovely toxic fumes if you overheat the board, and it starts to cook.

    Didn’t you read the “Do Not Feed the Trolls” sign? :p

  7. alex says:

    heh, I use a blowtorch, hold the board component side down, and heat aprox 4 inch square portions at a time, and give the board a good shake. Most components will fall off at that point. I can usually strip a board of all non smt components in 10 minutes this way. PS wear goggles, solder spray sucks

  8. Jon says:

    When the only tool you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail.
    When the only tool you have is fire, BURN THAT MOTHER F*CKING PROBLEM TO THE GROUND!

  9. hdfhsfhasfh says:

    cool cancer bro.

  10. Bob says:

    How hard is it to find a metal box and a thermometer? If you avoid spikes in the temperature, you are fine for desoldering.

  11. Brennan says:

    ChipQuik solder is good for surface mount IC’s. It stays molten much longer than regular solder, giving you enough time to loosen all the pins and remove the chip without damaging it. It’s also expensive as hell.

    This method is very risky. I would not try it unless I didn’t really care about damaging the board or the part. A hot air gun is definitely what you need here. If you don’t need the part after the desoldering, you can cut all the leads away from the IC with an exacto knife, and then use the soldering iron to remove all the leads from the pads.

  12. walt says:

    hack? just when I thought they cleaned op their act around here. again, quality not quantity please!

  13. JoDivo says:

    new category name for ya: ghettopairs

    reminds me of some of the ‘ghetto’ things that were done in some of the research labs i have worked.

  14. mfsamuel says:

    Ghetto Repairs makes me think of the Apple III fix which consisted of picking up the computer and dropping it to re-seat the chips.

  15. Paul says:

    That’s just painful to look at. Somebody buy this guy a $10 soldering iron and send him on his way. This method will just ruin the board, ruin chips, ruin your lungs.

  16. Brian Aday says:

    I like that idea, how about freezing a failed hard disk. Cold chips are happy chips.

  17. KaptainK says:

    Guys, soldering fumes are toxic whether you are using a candle or an iron.
    The best way to desolder non-bga SMA chips is to add extra solder to one side so you can heat up all the pins at once, lift one side slightly and then remove the solder so the pins are clean. Move on the the other side. Easy, quick and all you need is an iron an wick.
    This is all moot if your chip is 4 sided.

  18. parkolay says:

    Propane torch works great too. Heat the back side of PCB, whack edge of PCB on table, donor organs fall off for collection. I have even removed fine pitch micros and reused them in a pinch.

  19. fartface says:


  20. Xeracy says:

    you are all so fucking elitist. the whole point of a hack is to do something in a manner that was unintended. this definitely fits that bill. yes there are safety concerns, for the hacker and the hardware, but bringing those up in manner that is critical without attacking the character of the author would be much more appreciated. I bet every single reader out there has done something equally risky. Maybe its not worth posting, but i’d rather know this is an option in a pinch than not. fuck you HaD trolls.

  21. KaptainK says:

    Exactly right Xeracy. I thought this site was about sharing ideas, experiences, mistakes and new ways of doing things. No one ever said it was the right way, just an option in a pinch.

  22. Long Nguyen says:

    In Ukraine, if you walk around the electronics market, you’ll see dudes desoldering SMT parts from boards using a cheap hot air gun. And this is in the middle of winter.

  23. atrain says:

    Seems like people have forgot the meaning of hack. When did this site become projects-done-with-the-right-tools-a-day?

    I’ve used this method to recover a broken USB key, though I used a butane torch.

  24. Jeff says:

    I fixed a hard drive by re-soldering a pin with a hot glue gun. It got just hot enough to make the contact stay put, then I dabbed some glue on it just to make sure it wouldn’t move around… and ya know, the glue was like, right there anyway.

    It was a drive that I needed to recover data from, worked like a charm. I actually used that drive for a long time afterward, for storing things I didn’t care about.

  25. Xeracy says:

    @Long Nguyen – in Ukraine, parts desolder you…

  26. macuy says:

    a better method still using the candle but use a phillips screw driver and heat over the candle flame then use heated bit as your soldering bit. Wala! less fumes, will likely not destroy your board. ~MacUyver

  27. macpod says:

    I just use a butane torch lighter to remove smd components in a pinch. Far cleaner than using a candle.

  28. brokentate says:

    Sun+Magnifying Glass
    Pinpoint control and you can see what you’re doing!

  29. APerson says:

    this is not a terribly new idea, just more dangerously executed. someone did a repair on an old ibook video using tea lights.

  30. DB says:

    ChipQuick does the job quite well, and can be re-used several times before it stops working properly.

    Or you could put the board in your re-flow toaster oven, component side down and run the temp up to 450F. Tap the back with a screwdriver and most of the parts fall off. No toxic emissions and no risk to the chip you’re trying to remove, since it was reflow soldered onto the board in the first place.

  31. xobs says:

    Fun fact: Apparently tortillas can be used as pullup resistors in a pinch.

  32. Frogz says:

    holy crap on a PCB batman!
    i’ve never done this but i have done alot of stuff using wax as a fuel
    and unless fed extra oxygen(see: air), there is like no way a candle can produce enough heat over a small enough area to desolder anything!
    i have many a propane torch and a few butane 1s that are FAR better options, im supprise how LITTLE damage the board took(obviously tons of carbon black but it worked O.o

  33. DarkFader says:

    I’m going to burn my place down. The ultimate hack! I’m sure it will be rated 5/5.

  34. nek0 says:

    @DarkFader: if u’re inside , it becomes a 6/5 hack + darwin award!!!

  35. lulzdude says:

    Ya, no more reading hackaday, ill get news and my info elsewhere. Thats not a hack, thats plain stupidity.

  36. Nick says:

    Ok I am confused. If he had to use a candle to remove the chip, how did he re-solder it onto his other board????

  37. AnthonyDi says:

    You people are way too paranoid, like you never played with fire before. There’s no reason why it would damage the board if he keeps it far enough away from the flame.

    I’m surpised he bothered to document it though.

  38. blue carbuncle says:

    I agree with darkore lol. Glad it worked out for him and funnycool post HAD :)

  39. TheFish says:

    that reminds me of when my dad and my brother found a mother board with the cpu soldered on it, but the mother board was bad so they unsoldered the cpu with a blow torch and pliers, put the cpu that the replaced the capacitors on and its been working ever since.

    On another story, I have an IOGEAR USB Bluetooth Micro Adapter that stop working, and when they would send me an rma number i would finely receve the email about one month later or not at all (i think yahoo was blocking my emails) so i went and voided my warranty and took it apart, and re-flowed the solder and it work again. but after a wile of using it i would need to re-flow the solder again. come to find out that the USB connector being right on the board was a really bad design, every time you would plug or unplug the adapter it would flex the board and break the solder joints on the ball grid array chip. so i just soldered on my own USB connector right onto the original, raped electrical tape over it and have been using it ever since.

  40. strider_mt2k says:

    This reminds me of that episode of “The Simpsons” where Marge made a whole different cake specifically for Homer to ruin in an effort to preserve Maggie’s actual good cake.

    Way to not ruin an actual good cake there, Homer.

    Heeey, way to do a Homer!

  41. Underling says:

    I removed a chip with a soldering iron and a can of nonflammable compressed air. Just heat the solder and blow it off the board.

  42. techyguru says:

    This is a hack in my book. Just because it dosnt fit your requirments doesnt mean others wont find it interesting. in a pinch i would do it, but i wouldnt have come up with it on my own. thank you hackaday and thank you to roland for contributing. as for the people slaming contributers, what have you done for hackaday lately?

  43. aw says:

    Actually this doesn’t seem as bad as a lot of the comments imply. Yeah burning circuits isn’t good for you but it only accumulated a layer of soot on the bottom of the board and is probably better than any desoldering I have managed. I have seen some where they put a bead of solder across all the pins but this seems fairly clean

  44. blue carbuncle says:

    The Fish
    “raped electrical tape over it and have been using it ever since.”
    I can only assume you stuck the wiener in the cardboard tube hole ;)
    Sometimes ya gotta show that tape who is boss.

    /I couldn’t resist man. Great repair stories, especially the usb bga fix :)

  45. draeath says:


    Great, don’t let the door hit your rear on the way out.

  46. Whatnot says:

    Well a flame from a candle is much less hot than a blowtorch or something like that, and you can move it to evenly distribute and prevent overheating, so it makes sense, only problem is all the sooth.
    In fact when I think about it I think that if I tried that I would be wondering if the candle was hot enough to melt the solder instead of being overly worried about too much heat.

  47. Paul says:

    People complaining about him ruining the board: It was a scrap board he bought that had the chip on it, he didn’t need the board.

    People complaining that he should of just used his soldering iron to heat up the pins to get it off: It was a QFP IC


  48. penededios says:

    I have been down that road as well. I needed a connector from a laptop motherboard and my hot air gun was a couple hundred kilometers away so i used a dremel to cut it off and a soldering iron to clean it up. worked like a charm

  49. dcept905 says:

    LMFAO!!! This reminds me of my roommate. He was trying to get components off of either a sound card or video card… can’t remember which exactly now as it was a few years ago. He decided to use one of the stove elements in our apartment. Suffice to say the electrolytic caps didn’t agree with the heat and I laughed my ass off as he dodged shrapnel trying to get the thing over to the sink to cool it :D

  50. brsnow says:

    This works well for soldering wires together in a pinch. Twist the wires together then wrap with a couple turns of solder wire, then approach the flame slowly, and watch the soldering happen. Kinda hard to do sometimes though since your staring right into a flame.

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