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Coloring silver solder on copper


#1

Colouring/ patina’ing silver solder on copper

I’m trying to colour my silver solder when I’m using silver solder
on copper I know you are suppose to add steel nails to your pickle
and the silver should become copper colour. I have 3 different types
of pickle non of them are giving me the desired results. I’ve tried
steel wool instead of and as well as the nails. Also if I get it to
work does the pickle become saturated or can I keep using it to
colout my solder forevere?

Lynne


#2
I'm trying to colour my silver solder when I'm using silver solder
on copper I know you are suppose to add steel nails to your pickle
and the silver should become copper colour. 

Lynne,

A couple points. What you are trying to do is essentially to copper
electroplate your work, so the silver gets copper plated. The nails,
or other iron, make this happen by setting up an electrolytic cell
due to the difference in elecrical potential between silver or
copper, and the iron. In order for that to work, it is not enough to
just have iron (nails, steel wool, etc) just in the pickle. It must
be also in electrical contact with the silver/copper you are trying
to color. It does not take much iron. Your steel wool likely is more
than needed, and since it not only acts as an electrode in your
reaction, it also dissolves in the pickle, it will cause the pickle
to become saturated with ferric sulphate. If it’s not in contact with
the work, then the steel wool will happily be plating itself with
copper, puling it from the solution, but not putting it on your
work.

Not a useful thing. You can do right with as little as simply using
an iron wire to hang your work, or carbon steel tweezers to
hold/suspend your work in the pickle (stainless steel doesn’t work,
so not all tweezers work), It doesn’t take lots of iron. And
remember, the iron MUST be in contact with your metal for the circuit
to form, and the copper to plate out on the iron.

Also, new pickle won’t work. It’s not the pickle that’s causing the
copper color to appear. It’s copper, plating out of the pickle, which
is just the electrolyte. The copper comes from the copper oxides that
have dissolved in the pickle from prior use in pickling sterling
silver, brass, copper, etc, So the process works with older, used
pickle. If the pickle is starting to look a little blue, it will work
very well. If it is new, you can substitute by adding some copper
sulphate to the pickle. This bright blue chemical, available
sometimes in hardware stores, is what would have formed in the
pickle from normal use over time.

One other comment is that one of the most effective methods to make
the silver solder not so obvious, is to make it less obvious. Dumb
statement, right? What I mean is very well fitted joints, and use
only as much solder as you need. When cleaned up, a good solder joint
should appear as only a thin line, not any sort of broad area. That
thin line is much easier to hide and color than sloppier, broader
areas of solder flowed out on the metal.

Hope that helps

Peter


#3

Lynn,

What acid are you putting the nails in? We make our ferric Nitrate
with nitric acid (of course). Next question is about your nails. We
use old rusted RR spikes ad they are usual pretty old by the time
they pull them and lay new rail and they normally are/were not
highly alloyed. What we use the Ferric Nitrate for is to patina
Cynthia’s bronze sculptures.

What you are attempting to do, I think, is force a copper deposition
onto the silver from the pickle and the copper “normally” would come
out of sterling silver when pickling the work, and a piece of
iron/steel put in the pickle while the piece is in there, "forces"
the copper in solution to plate the silver. Most folks hate it when
this happens. Do you know of any silver smiths, using in particular
Sterling Silver, and pickling their work in the cleanup process? If
you know of someone who meets this description, see if they have
some old pickle you could have. High copper content pickles are
generally blue in color so you are going to be looking for this
coloration. NEW PICKEL will not do what you are after, at least as
far as I know. There are other ways to get a copper plating on the
solder but old, copper “contaminated” pickle is a great way to do
it.

If you need further help and want to contact me, feel free to do so
or just go thru the list so others can get the “knowledge”.
Knowledge is one of the few things we can truly pass on to the
future generations.

Again, there are other was to do this, but this is a quick and easy
one if you can get the “supplies”.

Also, and this is important, I am assuming you soldered the copper
with high content silver (jewelers solder) not silvering plumbing
solder. These have VERY little silver actually, using other metals
to get the solder to liquify at lower temperatures.

What ever you are going to do to force electro plating (get copper
coloration), the material will eventually run out of the plating
metal.

This may seem like a simple thing to do, but PLEASE be careful
around any acid, , it can burn you and if it is bad, it WILL be
for the rest of your life.

john dach
MLCE.net


#4

I suspect the nail in your pickle works fine if you’re doing a few
joints. I found that wrapping a piece in steel wool and then putting
it in a small container of pickle worked the best.

However, I cover enough solder joints that I finally spent the money
for a rectifier and the chemicals so I can really plate my stuff. For
me it was worth every penny.

Dick Stromberg


#5

Hi I’m doing my own welding rod for copper. I’m making an alloy of
copper and silver in the proportion of 65% copper and 35% silver.
Melt the copper first and then add the silver.

After welding the weld is camouflaged and the copper color. Hope
that helps. Regards. Carlos.


#6

Do you have to use silver solder? There are copper/bronze colored
solders out there that I hear work quite nicely. I make bracelets out
of bronze and copper and have been using silver solder but I have
some of that copper solder on the way that i’m excited to try out.


#7

I’m now seeing why it only worked some of the time. and yes I was
using new pickle on the times it didn’t work but even old pickle
only seemed to work once. and the times it did work I had the
nail/steel wool right on the joint

thanks to everyone who replied I actuallty own a rectifier because I
copper plate beads. I expect that this answer is my best solution! "I
suspect the nail in your pickle works fine if you’re doing a few
joints. I found that wrapping a piece in steel wool and then putting
it in a small container of pickle worked the best.

However, I cover enough solder joints that I finally spent the money
for a rectifier and the chemicals so I can really plate my stuff.
For me it was worth every penny.

Dick Stromberg However. I’d love to hear more about the copper
coloured solder. I’ve been a stained glass artist now for over 30
years and tried the copper bright. didn’t do a thing it did work on
plumbing solder when I made a screen out of recycled copper pipe. but
did nothing on silver solder!

Lynne


#8
...I'd love to hear more about the copper coloured solder. 

Lynne, go back through the Orchid Archives and search this topic.
There has been a lot of discussion on it.

All the best,
Judy Bjorkman


#9

Hi Everyone,

I love all the info I have gotten from you over the years. Thanks so
much.

I just want to add that I saw a unique way of copper plating silver
seams.

Make a Q tip out of some fine steel wool and a skewer. Then you can
dip it in the blue pickle and dab it on the seam. Voila! copper
plated! and a lot more controllable.