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Cannot Get Solder to Release

I am working in sterling and just finished a commission piece. It is
without a doubt the nicest piece I have done in my [very] short
career… Now to the problem…I got the bale crooked! And now I
cannot get the solder to release! I don’t know what is going wrong…

All I use is easy solder…but this ain’t easy now…


And now I  cannot get the solder to release! I don't know what is
going wrong... All I use is easy solder...but this ain't easy

when you melt and flow solder into a joint, some of the zinc in the
solder burns off. Plus, the molten solder dissolves a little of the
parent metal of the joint, thus increasing the silver percentage of
the molten metal. By the time you’re done, you do not, as you note,
have the same melting point. If it doesn’t come off easily, this may
mean you got the joint hotter than really necessary to flow the
solder in the first place. When that happens, sometimes the easiest
way to deal with it, assuming you’re having trouble getting the
solder to flow again, and don’t wish to risk heating it hotter, is
simply to saw off the offending part, clean off the old solder, and
resolder anew.


Cut it off and start over! Sterling’s cheap!



Un-soldering is a skill as well as soldering. If you have already
pickled the piece, and before adding any flux, I protect the other
joins with an anti flux and let it dry. For the anti flux I prefer
Stop Flow, it will not allow the solder to flow. Then I add the
SLIGHTEST amount of paste flux to the join that I wish to separate,
just enough to be where the solder has attached one piece to
another. I then use the powers of gravity. I hold the piece by the
bail with a heat proof tweezers. I apply the heat gently and directly
to the join at the bottom of the bail and when the solder melts, the
weight of the piece will make the piece drop off the bail. You do
have to account for the “drop” and make sure the piece will not go
too far and get damaged. This is much easier to do in gold, but
will work just fine in silver; remember with silver that you may have
to bring most of the metal to temperature even if you are
un-soldering. Its a fine line between melting and un soldering.

Beth Katz
Paste Solder and Powder Solder for Jewelers and Metalsmiths

Of course you do not want to overheat your nice piece, but you
apparantly need more heat than you have been using. Whenever I need
to unsolder something, such as a chain end, I put the small part in a
third hand clamp and suspend the piece in the air. Then I heat, and
as soon as the solder foows, the piece falls onto my soldering block.
It is a good method to get the pieces apart, and use no more heat
than needed. Go in fast with good heat. Do not be timid, but pull out
as soon as it falls apart.

Best wishes to you!

M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler
Goodland, MN

THX for all the good advice!

I did use a third hand, and when the tip started melting I switched
to a titanium pick…

I finally figured you guys were right and I got out my jewelers
saw…but first I thought I would try just bennnding it a little,
after all, with all that heat it was well annealed…

So I took my widdle pwiers and I twied and I twied…

I almost had it perfect…just one more little tweek…

and the blasted bale popped right off!

Ah, well…a learning experience…

Speaking of learning, there has been a lot of discussion about wire
v. sheet solder with good points being made by both sides. But I
haven’t heard mention of paste…

I took my hardearned money [from the pendant of the reluctant
solder] and invested in an itty-bitty jar of it…I’m in love…so
what am I missing?

Why doesn’t everyone use this wonderful stuff?

Love this place…so much knowledge…


Hi Reev,

When I have to repair an antique or something that has been
overheated. I would use a lower carat solder to rewet the joint. One
the other jewellers explained it pretty well about the alloy going
away. What your left with it almost a welded joint. The lower carat
solder has a lot more alloy than say a 14k easy solder.

A lower carat, say a 10k or 6k sometimes works. Don’t use much of it
or you could end up with a huge problem. If you get the bail off,
remove the lower carat solder. Remember to put your 14k on the
larger part and melt it, then solder the bail that has the lower
mass. Just past the flow point of the solder

I understand cutting the bail off isn’t always an option. The saw
curf changes the dimension and throws off the aesthetic balance of
the pendant. If the bale is engraved or is a filigree bale, you
wouldn’t want to cut it. So good luck.

I hope it works out for you.
Jim Zimmerman
Alpine Custom Jewellers & Repair