Bronze pickle?

I’m just starting to work with bronze in my jewelry. Is it ok to use the same pickle for my bronze and sterling silver or should I use a separate pot?

You should use a separate pot because you will get a light copper plate on your sterling (or gold.) It takes hard pickle (pickle and hydrogen peroxide) to get it off.

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I love bronze (I buy mine from Rio) and tend to use a brass brush while I’m working on my project. Bezels, soldering to back plates, that sort of thing. Toward the end, or where it seems necessary, I’ll use the “super pickle” that Eileen mentioned.

It’s easy – just dipper out enough regular pickle to cover your piece, then add the hydrogen peroxide. Put your piece in and watch the bubbles. When they are gone, your piece should be clean.

Note that the hydrogen peroxide is spent within an hour or so of mixing it in with the regular pickle, so there’s no sense in keeping the mixture around. It just turns back into regular pickle (+ the water that the hydrogen peroxide has reverted to).

If your regular pickle is already warm, then a beaker or glass jar should be fine for the temporary super pickle.

This is all based on my experience with Rio’s bronze (copper + tin), so another bronze alloy might act differently.

Good luck! It’s such a beautiful metal.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that the proportions are 1:1 (one part regular pickle and one part hydrogen peroxide). I don’t think it’s critical to be super-accurate with the mix, so anything close should work. Note that I’m not a chemist, though.


Please specify what you mean when you refer to “pickle” and “regular pickle”. Some jewelers use Sparex, some use Rio’s Sparex lookalike/works-alike, some use swimming pool acid (like Sparex), and some traditional acid (5%-10% sulfuric acid, if I remember correctly).

Please, please, please, when sharing information about substances, materials, or processes that might be hazardous, include warnings and disclaimers. We Orchidians don’t want to be responsible for giving out information that might be harmful without proper care being taken. Particularly when handling or mixing up acids/pickles, protect your eyes with safety goggles, and especially if you use sulfuric acid and perhaps even with Sparex, wear acid-resistant gloves. Some folks even wear acid-resistant aprons. This stuff is truly nasty for humans and other living things, so treat it with respect. And also, disclaimer here: if you use Bill’s process improperly, you will get hurt, and if you follow my posting, which is Bill’s process, neither he nor I am responsible if you do hurt yourself. You alone are responsible for taking the proper precautions for using acids/pickles.
The hydrogen peroxide pickle was developed by Bill Seeley and shared in 1996. Notice his safety considerations.
1. Use only sulfuric acid, Sparex or vinegar as the catalyst in these solutions.
2. Use 3% hydrogen peroxide available in drug stores, or mix a 2-3% solution from distilled water and concentrated H2O2 (usually 30%), available through a chemical supply house. More concentrated pickles (5%) can be mixed when deep, fast etching is desired. (Warning! Concentrated acid is very dangerous. Do not attempt without proper training and equipment.) Always add acid to water!
SOLUTION #1(mild):
2 parts Hydrogen Peroxide (3%). 1 part water. 2-4% fresh sulfuric acid (5-10%) or Sparex solution.
SOLUTION #2(strong):
1/2 cup Hydrogen Peroxide (3%). 1 Tablespoon fresh sulfuric acid (5-10%) or Sparex solution.

You can google Bill’s complete instructions (it’s a PDF)

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Thank-you so much Trish. I really appreciate all of the good information! I buy my bronze from Rio also so this is perfect. I’m finding I really love the look of the bronze. It adds that special touch to my silver pieces!

Eileen thanks so much for responding. Ive never used the hard pickle so I will give it a try.

Thank-you for responding LaLinda. I’m an experienced metalsmith so I always follow instructions with safety always in mind. This is great info though for those who are new to the metalsmithing world and to those who have never used different pickle solutions.

I used Sparex with the 1:1 ratio hydrogen peroxide. Trick is to have fresh hydrogen peroxide. Love working with bronze and brass by itself or additive metal. Becomes so rich with age. Aren’t we all hoping for like result?

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Thanks for the ratio jaymac!