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Finding silver through the ashes


#1

I have some questions- We were completely burned out in the
California fire last month. In sifting through the ashes, we found,
of course a lot of melted metal. I had about 2- 3 lbs of sterling
wire on spools, I believe the core was probably aluminum. Plus
aluminum everywhere. I also had some silver clay. How do I tell the
difference, and how do I separate the silver from the aluminum that
has melted together. And finally- how usable will it be and for what?

I know this is a lot, but if anyone could help me, I would
appreciate it very much.

Thank you,
Debi Davis


#2

Dear Debi,

My sincere condolences on the loss of your home. Don’t bother
sorting. You can send everything metallic in the general vicinity of
your work area to a refiner. They will charge you to assay then pay
you with a check for what the metal is worth or send you silver in
whatever wire gauge and shape you want.

There are many refiners in the US. United Precious Metals has a good
honest reputation as there are many others that I’m sure will chime
in with recommendations.

www.unitedpmr.com
(800) 999-FINE

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Colorado Springs, Colorado
rockymountainwonders.com


#3

Debi - please accept my condolences on the loss of your house! I
cannot imagine how awful that must be. Best wishes in your recovery
process, and good luck with the insurance companies.

Beth in SC


#4

Aluminium will dissolve in sodium hydroxide solution which is a
common component of most oven cleaners so spray a little on the
suspect metal and see if it goes a dull grey and pitted. If it does
then it is ali. Aluminium melts at about 600 deg C so that will
allow you to remove the bulk of it stuck to your silver. Clean the
rest off chemically with sodium hydroxide. You can my the solid salt
for drain cleaning etc.

Nick


#5

I think I should clarify. When I said the core is aluminum, I meant
the core of the spool, not the core of the wire :slight_smile: The wire is/was
SS.

Debi


#6

My condolences on the loss of your home and your bench, in regards to
the silver, just wash, dry and bag the metal. (use a magnet to pick
out your wrecked saw blades and files etc.) Send this off to a
refiner; there are lots so I won’t mention names.

I wish you all the best for the future.

Thomas.


#7

Nick,

Aluminium melts at about 600 deg C so that will allow you to remove
the bulk of it stuck to your silver. Clean the rest off chemically
with sodium hydroxide. You can my the solid salt for drain cleaning
etc. 

Aluminum and silver will easily alloy together and form a eutectic
alloy that melts at 567 C so heating them to try to remove the
aluminum will only make more of a mess as they will both be in
solution at that melting point.

Debi,

I am very sorry to hear of your loss. If you have any alloy that you
feel is possibly aluminum and silver and there is enough of it
contact a refiner and send it in for assay then possibly refining if
there is enough value there to do it. Any material where there is
aluminum and silver fused together will be useless to work or cast
without refining.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550