I am still kinda new to soldering. I had mentioned that I lightly sanded the black gunk off the tip. I am not sure if you want to do that. You don't want to take the tin coating off. Simply Swank carries a tip tanner which will recoat your tip with tin. It is on backorder right now. Just wanted people to know. I did not know there was such a thing before looking on their site. I guess I just have to keep wiping my tip off on the sponge all the time.
Kathy Burns emailed me and gave me some advice from her husband, who is an avid solderer.
Get a Copper Mesh Scrubber (Dan uses Quickie Brand). Wipe the hot tip on the scrubber, much like you would the sponge. He just jams the tip into the mesh and it immediately takes all that gunk off. These scrubbers are readily available at WalMart. He just put scrubber where the sponge would go on his stand. Thanks so much to Kathy and the Soldering King (her dh) for the advice!!