Get it from A & E metals. The silversmiths I know have stopped
using sterling and now use Argentium, to start NO FIRESCALE, think
Repeat NO FIRESCALE.
I still remember, back in 1972, in Fred Fenster's beginning jewelry
class at the University of Wisconsin, as a sophomore, as he explained
that "other schools may have a problem with fire stain or fire scale,
but here at U. W., we don't". He then went to to explain what Prips
flux was, and how to make it, and how to use it to protect silver
from both fire stain and fire scale. It's cheap to make, and not too
difficult to use, and it simply solves the problem. It's been doing
so for me ever since. It's always seemed odd to me that even now,
decades after so much of the on Prips flux has been
spread from so many school programs, that it still seems something
many, especially newcomers, have not heard of. One would think that
when someone invents the wheel, others would somehow remember it...
Look up "Prips flux" in the Orchid archives for a full description.
If the only reason you're using Argentium or Sterlium + is to avoid
fire scale or fire stain in fabrication, then you're spending money
you don't need to spend.
I've described Prips flux many times here on Orchid, as have a
number of others, yet somehow, people forget that the problem was
solved a long time ago. Prips flux is used by preheating the metal
enough so the flux can be sprayed on, giving a light coating that
upon further heating, melts to form a protective glaze on the metal.
Used properly, It completely prevents both fire stain and fire
scale, and is a moderately effective soldering flux too (totally fine
if your metal and solder are, as they should be, clean. If you're
dealing with existing oxidation or dirt or scale, and cannot somehow
clean things first, then you may need additional more active
Now, casting is a different animal. Casting silver tends to produce
castings that have fire stain. There are ways to deal with that too,
including casting machines that keep the flask in an oxygen free
atmosphere during casting, or methods of protecting the flask in
other ways. That tends to be more bother, or more costly than simply
using a proper protective flux, and for those situation, Argentium or
Sterlium + are good solutions, though not the only ones.
Also, if you're working with fusing as a joining method, then both
Argentium and Sterlium + tend to work better than standard sterling.
Same thing with laser or pulse arc welding.
And if you really want resistance to tarnish, then again, these are
But traditional sterling silver has a charm all it's own. If you're
in the habit of using traditional oxidized patina treatments, then
traditional sterling works better. And traditional sterling seems
stronger and harder, especially for things like forging, raising, and
the like. Plus, pure and simple, it's less expensive.
And that, Richard, is why more than a few of us, perhaps old timers,
still use and like traditional sterling. I also use and like Sterlium
+ and less often, argentium, but frankly, for fabrication and hand
work, I prefer standard sterling. It does what I want, no surprises,
costs less, and presents no problems for me. Why fix something that