I am feeling totally confused as to how to use Argentium Silver
In my experience it’s not a big deal Grace, very few changes should
be necessary from the way you normally work sterling silver. But
there are some differences, namely:
there’s no need to firecoat Argentium Sterling (AS). The purpose
of firecoat is to keep the oxygen away from the hot metal and that is
totally unnecessary, and somewhat counterproductive, when working with
AS. AS likes to react with oxygen and it is good for it todo so.
Standard sterling silver loves to react to oxygen and it’s
generally not a good thing at all.
for the same reasons there is no need to use reducing flames with
AS or work on charcoal in order to get a reducing atmosphere. A
reducing atmosphere starves the AS of oxygen which, as explained
above, you generally don’t want to do.
I purchased the argentium from Stuller and I don't recall seeing
anything about having to heat treat it first ....
I haven’t bought AS from Stuller yet so I don’t know what
documentation they include when you do but I do know that some folks
have reported getting tarnish in the bag or shortly after putting it
into use. Whether Stuller mentions it or not this shouldn’t happen
unless the metal has been oxy-starved in production. The solution is
easy: heat treat it.
If you’re not having any tarnish problems then your stock may well
have been heat treated before you received it and that’s great
because you’re good to go.
If you’re like me and you’re not into taking those kind of chances
then by all means heat treat your new stock and then you’ll know
exactly where you’re at.
Just to make sure we’re on the same page by “heat treat” I mean torch
anneal. Kiln annealing is probably just as good but I don’t have a
kiln so I wouldn’t know for certain.
Does the soldering process automatically do this?
Yes, as long as you haven’t firecoated everything. If you’ve heated
your AS with a torch to annealing or soldering temps without the
use of firecoat and without the use of oxygen reducing flames or
environments then yes, you have heat treated your AS.
And a post I just read talked about using flux like that was a no
I think that post was talking about firecoat not flux. There’s
nothing whatever wrong with using flux with AS, assuming you’re using
it in the normal way for the normal reasons.
I use manufactured Prips Flux and have been working the argentium
pretty much like I would any sterling, fluxing everything before
heating. Have I missed something?
If by “fluxing” you mean adding flux to your soldering joint to aid
the soldering process then no, you’re right on track. If by "fluxing"
you mean firecoating your entire piece then … well, see above:
firecoating AS is generally unnecessary and is in fact somewhat
I can’t stress enough that there’s no reason to be confused or upset
about this. Just remember that AS likes oxygen when heated. That’s
really all there is to it. This of course means hold the firecoat and
forget about reducing flames and atmospheres.
Other than that nothing really changes … except that you’ll never
have to worry about firestain and tarnishing is pretty much history.
in The City of Light