I tried my hand at soldering a headphones jack recently and had difficulty with the soldering part of the process. Actually, it was only soldering so I had trouble with the ENTIRE process. It was only after I had made a rather horrendous connection that I realized I had not tinned the tip of my soldering iron. Rookie mistake! Of course, I am a rookie so I forgave myself rather quickly.
I decided that before I worked my next project I would look up the best way to tin the tip of the soldering iron. As you can imagine, there were lots of results from my search. The first result was an Instructable called Soldering 101: Lesson 1: Tinning the Tip, so I went with that. It turned out to be a rather simple process, so there you go. It turns out that it’s not just a one time thing either, you need to continually tin the tip of your soldering iron while you are working. It’s also a good idea to tin the tip when you are done as it extends the life of your soldering iron. Go figure.
Here are the before and after pictures of my cheap little soldering iron. Perhaps it will work better the next time I need it.