How a Cold Heat Soldering Iron Works

The Cold Heat Tip

Solder: burninated. Tip: broken.
Solder: burninated. Tip: broken.

The original marketing materials for the Cold Heat tool described its tip as a patented composite material known as Athalite. We suspect it's made from graphite (a form of carbon) or a substance primarily composed of graphite. Here's why:

  • It physically resembles graphite.
  • Carbon has 2,500 to 7,500 times the resistance of copper, so it can heat up quickly when exposed to electrical current.
  • Some resistance soldering systems use graphite for thicker probes.
  • The company has declined to identify the material, but it has said that it's natural and used in blast furnaces and the locomotive industry [Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer]. Coal, which is mostly carbon, fits that description.
  • The Cold Heat tool's patents describe its tip as graphite. The patents also identify the insulator between the tip's halves as mica.

If the tip is really made from a patented compound, another company owns the patent for it. Hyperion Innovations, maker of the Cold Heat tool and owner of the patents describing it, does not own a separate patent for a compound material. In addition, the only patents that list Grigore Axinte -- inventor of the Cold Heat soldering iron -- as the inventor describe tools, not compounds.

Unfortunately, graphite can be brittle. One of the most common complaints in product reviews and message board posts is that the Cold Heat tip breaks during normal use. Unfortunately, using the recommended light pressure on the tip wasn't sufficient to complete a circuit when we tried to use the tool. Just after we successfully completed a circuit and melted some solder, our tip broke.

Our broken Cold Heat tip. Our broken Cold Heat tip.
Our broken Cold Heat tip.

We have heard that some people love their Cold Heat tools. We suspect that they have the knack for using just the right amount of pressure at just the right angle, completing a circuit without shorting out any electrical components being soldered or breaking the tip.

For lots more information about soldering, electronics and related topics, check out the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • Cook, John. "Cold Heat Comes up with a Hot New Way to Solder." Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 16, 2003.
  • Krakow, Gary. "Cold Heat Soldering Iron Runs Hot and Cold." MSNBC, October 8, 2004.
  • Moon, J. "Cold Heat. Or Was It a Banana?" IGN, February 13, 2005.
  • Resistance Soldering
  • Svensson, Peter. "Cold Heat Soldering Iron." Globe and Mail, November 30, 2004. RTGAM.20041130.gtcoldheatnov30/BNStory/TechReviews/
  • United States Patent & Trademark Office: Patent applications 20050247692, 20040149713 and 20020047001, patents 6797924 and 6646228
  • "Worst Soldering Iron Ever." NewTech, Inc, November 2005. coldheat-worst-soldering-iron-ever.html