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Alum - broken drill bits?

I have broken several drill bits in a piece of fine silver
(although, it may be sterling). I seem to remember alum being the
remedy. I have searched grocery stores for it to no avail. Does
anyone have a source for alum and will it work with drill bits
broken off in silver? Thanks.

Diane Echnoz Almeyda

Howdy, Alum can be found in the spice rack of any grocery. It is used
in pickling I believe. It works for removing broken bits. It takes a
while. Pickle also works.

J Morley/Goldsmith/Laserwelding


Try a Drug Store for Alum. Yes it will work on broken drill bits in
Silver. The Alum needs to be heated in a Glass beaker with the piece
of jewelry placed in it.

Good Luck
Greg DeMark

The term alum is a very generic term for a sulfate salt. You
probably already have what you need-- Your pickle. a sulfuric acid
or a Sodium bisulfate ( Sparex or pH down) pickle will
preferentially pick up iron If you pickle your piece containing a
broken drill or tap in old pickle containing copper you will dissolve
the iron and plate out the copper. In a new pickle solution you
will just dissolve the iron and leave the silver alone.

The common cucumber pickle solution used to contain aluminum alum
but what you will find today in a grocery or drug store will usually
be Ammonium alum.


In the past, Ive found and bought alum in the spices section.
However, it is an essential in making many types of pickles, so the
canning area is a second alternative. Also, I believe alum can be
used as an astringent, so ask a real pharmacist [as apposed to a
pill counter at mass merchants], though it may have to be special

Note: I asked at a grocery store and they said no, but it was on the
shelf anyway, only the spice person knew of it The general manager
nor office clerks knew, the spice person didn’t know why, but knew
it sold lot, especially in summer and fall. :<)

Good luck, and sharp keep a sharp look out. . .

Hi Diane,

You might also try the drug store. I’ve gotten some from my
neighborhood Walgreens. I’m sure other drug stores have it as well.


Alum does work, but slow.

Sodium Bisulfate in half hot water and half Hydrogen Peroxide works
faster for all the students that bring me broken drill bits in their
silver pieces. I have them put their piece and the super pickle
mixture in a beaker on the hotplate and watch the drill bit bubble
away. A tablespoon of Sodium Bisulfate, half a cup hot water, half a
cup Hydrogen Peroxide or a similar ratio.

Diane, the spice barn on line has alum. Just search for the spice
barn or search for powdered alum and you will get allot of hits.

Verna Holland