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Blog

Reflow with a hair straightener

Saar Drimer


I love using things for what they were not intended for. Often it doesn’t quite work out, but I had a good feeling about this next one. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and saw my girlfriend's hair straightener staring at me. My one track mind -- circuits! -- immediately realised the potential in this commoditised el-cheapo piece of kit, even for someone, like myself, without much hair to burn!

I spent a few hours researching hair straighteners. What I needed was:

* Floating plates are springy in order to have even pressure on the hair. Since for my use I wouldn't press the plates together, I was concerned that they wouldn't be quite parallel so would heat the board unevenly. Being able to press one end on each plate would give me more flexibility.

* Temperature control is essential with some of the cheaper hair straighteners having a fixed temperature setting (not good!). The best range I could find is 150°C -- 230°C which is within the reflow of low temperature solder paste. All good.

* A locking mechanism is useful for fixing the plates into place. Some allow locking at various positions. The one I got locks "closed", but still has a wide enough of a gap.

* A long swivelling power cord seemed like a good idea.

* A stylish carrying case.

I decided to go for the Remington S3500 Ceramic Straight 230 Hair Straightener; street value of £15. (I expected both plates to be "floating", but only the bottom one is, but it turned out not to be an issue since the plates are parallel even with a 3--4 mm gap.) Here's a video of the process and results



I'm quite pleased with the outcome:


It's certainly not a replacement for a reflow/toaster oven, but could find its use in some cases such as a localised soldering job to avoid melting other bits, etc. Also, it's mobile.

What do you think?