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Argentium Sterling Contamination


#1

Trevor

I hope you don’t mind that I am sending this e-mail to yourself & to
our friends on Orchid simultaneously.

I asked you several weeks ago about what kind of provisions need to
be made in a shared studio so that Argentium Sterling is not
contaminated. You told me that the only thing I really must concern
myself with is a separate set of buffing wheels. Well, we haven’t
had a chance to make a studio order yet so I am still making due
with the buffs that every one uses, even the beginners still working
in Cu and Brass.

Yesterday I had this thought: When someone accidentally contaminates
the pickle with steel and copper plates their silver, they are
advised to make up a batch of “super pickle” (Pickle w/ H2O2). That
usually strips off all the pink. If I were to take a fully polished
piece in Argentium Sterling, and put it for a few minutes in the
Super Pickle would I be preventing later oxidation from residual
copper? Would I destroy my polish? (I guess I’ve never had any
reason to put a pristine polished piece in the pickle).

Thank you for considering this problem—and it is already a
problem, as I have begun to polish my first Argentium Spoon.

Marya


#2
You told me that the only thing I really must concern myself with
is a separate set of buffing wheels. 

If you go back and check that email I think you’ll find that I
recommended two things:

- separate polishing buffs, etc.
- separate fire bricks.

I think, as does ArgentiumSilver.com if you read their datasheet on
Argentium Sterling (AS), that both of these are important. IMHO, the
second even more so than the first.

If I were to take a fully polished piece in Argentium Sterling, and
put it for a few minutes in the Super Pickle would I be preventing
later oxidation from residual copper? 

Personally I doubt it but it’s probably not going to hurt anything
either so why not give it a try. The question, of course, is how do
you know if it worked. This brings us to accelerated tarnish testing.

One of the little tricks I use to see how good the tarnish resistance
is on a piece of AS it to put it and a polished strip of regular
sterling silver in a steamer with a handful of fresh broccoli (cut
into flowerlets). It is important to degrease the metals first. Let
the steamer run at full boil for about 10 minutes, you should be able
to smell the broccoli. This is usually enough to turn the sterling
quite grey, longer in the steamer will darken it even further.

If your AS is still clean after this test, or has light blush of
straw colored oxide on it, then I’d say your tarnish resistance is in
pretty good shape. If the AS darkens noticeably then it’s not in such
good shape after all. I realize that this test is about as
bush-league as it gets but at least it’s something.

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light
www.touchmetal.com


#3

Hi Marya,

I asked you several weeks ago about what kind of provisions need
to be made in a shared studio so that Argentium Sterling is not
contaminated. You told me that the only thing I really must
concern myself with is a separate set of buffing wheels. Well, we
haven't had a chance to make a studio order yet so I am still
making due with the buffs that every one uses, even the beginners
still working in Cu and Brass. 

I suggest that if you need to use a buff that has been used for
copper, etc., then you rake it as clean as possible before using the
buff. There are commercial tools for this, but one can use an old
file cleaner, or a coarse hack saw blade, etc.

By the way, Peter Johns recommends separate pickle and separate
soldering boards in a group studio situation where there is a lot of
work done with copper alloys.

Yesterday I had this thought: When someone accidentally
contaminates the pickle with steel and copper plates their silver,
they are advised to make up a batch of "super pickle" (Pickle w/
H2O2). That usually strips off all the pink. If I were to take a
fully polished piece in Argentium Sterling, and put it for a few
minutes in the Super Pickle would I be preventing later oxidation
from residual copper? Would I destroy my polish? (I guess I've
never had any reason to put a pristine polished piece in the
pickle). 

Interesting idea! It seems like it might help, but I think that
prevention is the best idea. If you do use the hydrogen
peroxide/pickle mixture, don’t just put it in and walk away for a few
minutes. Watch it. After seeing bubbles, take it out and scrub it.
Hmmm. Actually, I don’t think the H202/pickle is such a good idea on
a polished piece… Clean the buff.

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com