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Copper plating


I have a customer’s rope chain which I need to replace a clasp
on & I through it in the pickle to clean it. Unfortunately, he
is apparently a welder and their was some slag on the chain. It
is now totally copper plated. My question: is there something I
can use to remove the copper plating, and/or the slag? I don’t
know if it is stainless or carbon steel.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Sharon Ziemek

hi sharon,

just so you know, you could have a stainless steel screen in
your pickle pot and it won’t hurt a thing. file the slag away, if
you can, and then you could electro strip it or bomb it a couple
of times.

best regards,

geo fox

You didn’t say if the chain was gold or silver. If it is 14kt or
higher karat gold you can soak it in a nitric acid solution
which should attack the cooper and the steel both. overnight or
shorter period if warmed. if silver sand and polish. Frank

Get a bottle of Hydrogen peroxide from the drug store. Put the
Hydrogen peroxide in a spare pickle pot or crock pot add a
teaspoon of your pickle to the pint of hydrogen peroxide. Place
your piece you need to remove the copper from in the warmed
hydrogen peroxide. Keep a close eye on it, it will fizz a bit.
This will only take a few minutes with fresh hydrogen peroxide.
Remove the piece as soon as all the plate is removed.

Good Luck.

Joe Bowersmith

In answer to the problems of (1) removing welding slag from
jewelry, and (2) the problem of removing the copper plating from

(1) I use common Alum that can be purchased at a drug store in
powderd form, mixed with water in a saturate solution at just
below boiling temperature. It is not fast but it works well and
does not harm non-ferrous metals.

(2) Although not recomeded by many people if the plating cannot
be removed by polishing use a stripping procedure , either
electro stripping or my old favorite cyanide bombing. The
bombing makes a rope chain look great. Many people frown upon
bombing because of the danger of the cyanide gas… I haven’t
had any problems …yet…

Good luck


O.k> I’ve done plating, but I’ve never actually run into this
problem before, so I’ll give you the theory, but I wouldn’t use
it unless it’s your last resort since you’d be experimenting with
a customer’s piece. Plating occurs as a result of an electrical
current in the plating bath (ie: dissimilair metals Aka
Iron/other) Now normally the ions flow from positive to negative,
so in theory upping the current (via 9v battery) and reversing
the contacts so that the chain is on the pos. side the 'little
copper ions" will be happy to leave and go back into the bath.
See what others have to say about my theory, and/or try a test
piece. Let us all know what happens. Good luck Sharon!

Tim Goodwin

G’day, Sharon; I doubt whether it would be stainless, and I
don’t really know how to remove the iron other than laboriously
examining, picking and scraping the iron oxide and iron off the
chain. Is it gold or silver? If the chain is really gold, 10%
sulphuric acid will dissolve the iron, but you’ll get more copper
on it. The only thing I can think of is after you have got rid of
the cause of the problem - the slag - you very carefully heat the
chain on an open tray of some sort or a jewellers wig, until the
copper is blackened by oxidation, followed by pickling it again.
You may need to do this several times, because the thing is not
to get the chain too hot; not much hotter than an electric iron.
In fact, you could actually heat it on the soleplate of an
electric iron. (Clean up the iron afterwards with 400-600 grit
wet/dry paper with soap and water as a lubricant.) Can’t imagine
what a welder might be doing with a gold or silver chain on the
outside of his overalls! Or has he got a burnt chest too??
:frowning: Cheers, –

       / /    John Burgess, 
      / /
     / //\    @John_Burgess2
    / / \ \
   / (___) \

Hi, gang,

After I stopped panicking and started thinking, I looked at the
chain (20" 14k 3mm solid rope) and found two areas of slag, one
small ball and another that had fused the chain links in the
surrounding area. I managed to remove the ball with a seperating
disk and a graver. The other area I just cut out and resoldered
the chain. Only lost about 3/8". Once I was convinced the peice
was safe, I left it in the pickle for the next 6-8 hrs, and it
came out beautiful.

I was also wondering why this guy had his neck exposed while

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I will file them for future

On the subject of pickle pots, I have heard some people say
there is a shock hazard using a crock pot (which I do). I was
wondering what causes potential shocks? The glazing at the
bottom of my pot is beginning to chip and I was wondering if
there is a potential path for current once that happens?

Have a great weekend!

Sharon Ziemek

I use common Alum that can be purchased at a drug store in
powderd form, mixed with water in a saturate solution at just
below boiling temperature.

I whole heartedly agree with Ray. One more great use of alum is
if you break a drill inside the jewelry, you can boil the piece
in an alum solution and the drill rod will eventually dissolve.
It does seem necessary to boil the water, perhaps Ray can explain

Although not recomeded by many people if the plating cannot
be removed by polishing use a stripping procedure , either
electro stripping or my old favorite cyanide bombing.

In reference to bombing, I think it best if the process is
learned first hand from someone proficient with it. I prefer to
bomb next to an exhaust fan or under a hood. Many people panic
around cyanide, but jewelers have been using it for many years
without problems… at least without obvious problems… the
danger of course occurs when acid is mixed into the cyanide
creating a lethal gas. Bombing creates a controlled expansive
foaming that chemically scrubs surfaces, actually removing the
non-gold elements, and leaving an extremely thin 24k finish, a
bit like depletion gilding. I prefer using bombing as a
pre-plating step or as a method of removing oxides. It creates an
extremely even surface color, but not a durable surface color.

Jeffrey Everett

Pickel mixed with hydrogen peroxide will clean copper plating
from silver. It’s a stronger pickel and is hard on any soldered
seams. I don’t know if it works on gold. The peroxide will not
last long so it is not keepable.

Curious, when you say that the stronger pickel is hard on any
soldered seams, are you saying that “the seams will not stay
together?” or will they break quicker? I’ve experienced the slight
copper plating, usually I just file it off . . .then I have to
deal with the problem of scratches (file, sand paper, steel wool,
etc . . .)

hi sharon,

some people like do douse hot metal into the pickle, i don’t
because of spattering and i heard tha hot dousing can allow
pickle to penatrate into th e surface of the metal. that could be
a potential problem for future soldering. sometimes just throwing
a heavey piece into a ceramic pot can break the pot. i’ve used a
stainless steel screen so things are easier to retrieve and so
things won’t strike the bottom. now i use a nylon strainer. a
brolen pot won’t cause an electrical short, immediatley anyway.
though i would advese to immediatley take the pickle out of the
pot. and of course, buy a new pot.

best regards,

geo fox

The stronger pickel will etch the seams quicker than the
sterling. This will make them more obvious. I suppose that if
you kept renewing the pickel as it wore out, you would eventfuly
completely etch away the solder.

Marilyn Smith

i heard that hot dousing can allow pickle to penatrate into the surface of the
metal. that could be a potential problem for future soldering.

Hi George,

Problems also for the person who wears the piece, as any
dampness (sweat) will cause the acid to leak out and do damage
to skin. Be careful, Markus

I have mainly used the alum solution , like you sugested for
drill bit or bur removal. I usually heat the solution with the
piece in it on a hot plate just to the temperature that the only
water that boils is the water around the piece of steel. So in
effect you get a stream of bubbles from the hole where the drill
bit is. At this temperature the solution does not boil away as
quickly, which is a concern because it can take all day or at
times it has taken 2 days to remove a large or deep piece.

Happy Boiling