Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Exploding Silver


#1

I would appreciate the List’s assistance in explaining what
happened this evening:

I was soldering a sterling two piece bail and just as the solder
was about to flow, the silver fragmented explosively. I prepared
a second bail,and the same thing happened. This time, I smelled
something burning and discovered it was me (well, more correctly,
my pants) right in the crotch area. At that point, it ocurred to
me that it might be a good idea to put out the fire and regroup.
I was using 26 gauge sterling with oxy/propane. The bail was
being held in self-locking tweezers; it had been dipped in boric
acid/alcohol and the alcohol flamed off. I then scraped the boric
acid powder away from the seams to be soldered and applied
Batterns liquid flux. I was using pallions of hard solder. I used
a reducing flame to gently heat the piece to make sure the
Batterns would hold the solder chips in place as it dried, and
then went to a hotter flame to solder. I heated the whole piece,
but concentrated the flame on the heavier of the two pieces. Just
as the solder was about to flow, it became something like the
forth of July, and I was on my way to becoming a soprano.

I look forward to your insight, or even educated guesses, as to
the likely explanation, and your recommendations as to what
should I do to correct the problem (other than standing up to
solder). Thanks in advance.

Len Nessen


#2
    I was soldering a sterling two piece bail and just as the
solder was about to flow, the silver fragmented explosively....

G’day; for my 2c I can only suggest that

(a) you wipe the nitroglycerine off your work first, or 
(b) use EzeFlo flux instead of nitroglycerine
(c) buy your silver from other than the IRA or
(d) x-ray it to ensure that no gases were left trapped in compression when
	the metal was milled.
    ...I then scraped the boric acid powder away from the seams
to be soldered and applied Batterns liquid flux..... 

Why? Boric acid is quite a good flux, even when mixed with
other fluxes; it is a constituent of Pripp’s Flux, an
old-fashioned flux and anti- firestain.

   ...as the solder was about to flow, it became something
like the forth of July, and I was on my way to becoming a
soprano. 

Pity: you could have got work in certain operas or perhaps as a
chorister?

     ....what should I do to correct the problem (other than
standing up to solder). 

Wear tin pants? Then a job in Tin-Pants Alley? Cheers,

       / \
     /  /
   /  /
 /  /__| \      @John_Burgess2
(______ )       

At sunny Nelson NZ (in mid- winter)


#3

Just what was the heat range of the solder you were using? I
would suggest using a mid or even a low heat solder for assy. of
pieces. Welding for sizing and perhaps retipping. Hope this helps
your singing career.

Steve Klepinger


#4

Ouch! Len, I can only suggest that there may have been a bubble
within the metal, somehow. Either that, or perhaps there was some
sort of volatile impurity in that particular batch of silver. Was
the bail made from silver that you had remelted? I’m sure you
will get lots of interesting suggestions. In the meantime, “Stay
upright”, as we motorcyclists say, Rex from Oz.


#5

Dear Len, Oops! Never Mind! So kick me. I mis-read your posting
as “two piece ball” I knew I finally needed glasses. Can’t
imagine why a BAIL (got it this time) would explode, unless there
was too much tension on the locking tweezers, which might at
least cause the bail to collapse when the silver softened because
of the heat…Exploding though?

Lisa, aka:Rosanne Rosanadana for you TV fans(calling an
opthamologist as
you read this) Topanga, CA, USA


#6

Len Len Len,

Two, (or more), part closed hollow elements require a hole

pierced in the structure somewhere, or the sealed buildup of
heated air, ie: gasses, will cause the inevitable performance art
jewelry making demonstration which you have apparently already
experienced. The down side is that you mess up a piece and
possibly get burned. The upside is that in doing so, you provide
entertainment for friends, relatives, students and teachers alike
as you desperately hop from foot to foot, brushing hot metal
particles off of various body parts while you scream like a
banshee. Good luck with the next attempt, but, please, provide a
wee vent-hole in it somewhere. I don’t want to read about you
in the papers.

Lisa,( yeah, it’s still incredibly hot, and I’m cleaning out my back
room for a garage sale) still in Topanga,CA, USA


#7

If you experianced sparks and a loud popping noise at the time
of the “explosion” you may have overheated or burned the steel
tweezers, but I think the origional locking tweezer, crushing the
silver ,popping it into you lap theory is the best so far.
Personally I have had both things happen to me. Scary for a guy.
Many ruined pants. _jordan.

Sorry to leave the girls out im sure it scary for them to.


#8

At Last! Thank you, Lisa for explaining the reason for that
little hole in a hollow piece. I always put one in, but have
received some rather unusual explanations for why it is done.
Yours certainly makes the most sense . So far none of my
punctured hollow pieces have rocketed to the moon when
findings were soldered to them, so the little hole stays.
To Len: Are you SURE that the solder wasn’t contaminated or the
silver wasn’t improperly milled?


#9

I’ve made many hollow pieces, I usually cover the hole with a
bezel (open bottom) or a tube settng (also open bottom) . . . the
stone which ends up in the bezel or setting covers the tiny hole
nicely!

I started doing that after too many potential customers asked ,
“say, what is that little hole there for?” Either there are a
BUNCH of them seen, or none at all!