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Disposal of studio liquid waste

Hi All,

I am looking for a house in the NYS area, many of which have well
and septic. I’m looking for advice from jewelers who have well and
septic: How to you dispose of your liquid waste" Pickle, sonic
solution/sonic solution containing polishing compound, liver of
sulfur, the tiny bit of liquid flux that I dump when it’s dirty at
the bottom before refilling, etc.

I obviously don’t want to ruin the septic workings, or contaminate
water. Help" Thanks,

Alexis Romeo
Alexis Romeo Jewelry

Hello Alexis,

You asked about disposing of various wastes to a septic system. I
spent about 30 years working with private water wells and wastewater
(mostly septic) systems.

In general the small amounts you have to dispose of will not create
a problem in a 1,000 gallon septic tank - no upset. However I commend
and respect your interest in being environmentally responsible.

These statements are based on the amounts of waste normally produced
by the small studio jeweler - NOT an industrial production facility!!

You can buffer out your pickle with baking soda until it quits
bubbling, and pour it down the drain. The small amounts of LoS
commonly used in the studio will not create a problem either. You may
want to retain polishing debris in the sonic solution as it contains
metals to be refined. Pretty easy to do that by pouring the dirty
sonic solution into a paper coffee filter in a holder or strainer.
When the filter and contents are dry, put it in your sweeps
container. The “clarified” sonic solution can also be put down the
drain. Most fluxes are primarily boric acid and it will not disrupt
the digestion going on in the septic tank.

I hope you have the local environmental health
professional/sanitarian review and inspect the systems serving any
house you might purchase. They should have sound, practical advice
to give as well as identifying possible problems with construction
and contamination.

Judy in Kansas, formerly a practicing registered sanitarian/EHRS.

Many local recycling centers have regularly scheduled Hazardous
Waste days. They take fluorescent bulbs, paint, lead and other
batteries, and various chemicals and other materials.

I’m not on septic, but since the job I have right now deals with
hazardous waste cleanups, I would strongly recommend that you find a
business or program that can accept it as a hazardous waste for
disposal. You may want to check with the town or city you’re planning
to move to and see if they offer a household hazardous waste
collection service or event if you’re a hobbyist, or check with a
hazardous waste disposal company for options if you’re a business.
Avoid putting it down the drain - and you won’t have an outrageously
expensive cleanup in the future!

Caren Johannes

Hi - we now live in a rural area with well and septic. You have a
couple of changes to look forward to.

With regard to septic, I simply do not flush or dispose down the
drain any of the chemical laden stuff I use. If it can be neutralized
and I do need to dispose of it, like pickle, first let it sit so that
all the fines are at the bottom. Those you add to the fines from your
sonic and let them evaporate and then add to your sweeps to refine.
Pour off the clear liquid and make it neutral with baking soda, and
lots of water. Then put it in your gravel driveway or in an area in
which you don’t intend to plant foodstuffs. A better idea is to keep
the pickle for granulation or copper plating. Mostly, you don’t need
to dispose of it at all.

Flux - I keep a covered cup where I rinse my brushes - I add water
as it evaporates. I’ve never had to throw it out. When I moved, I
just let it evaporate and filled it up after the move.

Liver of sulpher is good for my rose garden and when it dies, I
dilute it a bit and add it to the flowers which are really happy. I
live in a dry, somewhat alkaline area so the acids are always useful
soil additions.

The thing that got me is this - we have a good well and do not treat
the water. In the past in town, when tumbling, I’ve let the rinsing
solution sit for a week or two until it has been well used. Now,
without chlorine, the stuff has some organic compounds in it and it
gets moldy and stinks. The solution is to add a bit of Clorox to the
water when I mix a new batch. When disposing, I pour off the clear
parts and let the sludge evaporate and add to the sweeps for

As an aside, a jeweler friend had an unexpected reaction from his
refiner when he sent him several barrels of dried sludge from
tumbling gold. When they fired the batch to get to the gold, it
exploded in the furnace. Nobody was hurt, but you might mention the
risk when refining the sludge from tumbling. And it was worth many
thousands of dollars in gold when refined. It is definitely worth

FWIW, your experiences will vary.
Judy Hoch

Thanks so much for the concise and informative description of what I
have done for some 43 years and

describing the fact that common sense goes a long way in a small
jewelry manufacturing studio.

The environment has always been a concern and but not stopped the

Peace, Kristina


Then put it in your gravel driveway or in an area in which you
don't intend to plant foodstuffs. 

I don’t have a well but do have septic and a gravel drive way. Spent
pickle is for me safer than hardware store stuff I call agent orange
( I am dating myself :slight_smile: to kill off weeds in the drive. I am very
careful of the septic and have been known to play with nasty
chemicals and the weeds really hate me. Dilute as seems needed and
dead weeds tell no tales.

Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing

Then put it in your gravel driveway or in an area in which you 

don’t intend to plant foodstuffs. Many counties have household
hazardous waste programs that are free and more environmentally
friendly thanpouring chemicals into the ground. Some chemicals/metals
leech into ground water or otherwise negatively affect the
environment. Even copper (present in used pickle), which probably
binds to soil long before reaching groundwater, will stay in the
soil, preventing many plants from growing and can kill beneficial
soil decomposers (worms, fungi, millipedes) that recycle soil
nutrients.Please check with your local county…there is probably a
Department of Environmental Quality or similar department where you

For those of you in Tucson/Pima County, AZ, you can drop off
hazardous waste for no charge—is at:

I just have to add that somehow there seemed to be a feeling that
septic might be different from sewer. Nope - it all goes into our
soil, streams, lakes, rivers and oceans. If you care about your
children and your children’s children, please dispose of hazardous
waste responsibly. The earth with thank you.

Barbara, on a cool and windy night on the littlest province in Canada