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Firescale, frips, prips huh?


#1

Okay,

I want to make some flux. First I need to clarify a few things…

  1. Does one need both boric acid and Borax to make prips?

  2. Does one need to use another flux in conjunction with a prips
    flux? A paste flux for example.

  3. If TSP is hard to get ahold of and Cascade varies from state to
    state has anyone come up with an alternative. Do you really need it
    can you just use denatured alcohol and borax…

I know this has been discussed to death, but I have been going
through the archives and my head is spinning, I thought it would be
better to ask specific questions. When I learned to solder we just
had a big vat of powdery paste flux and we paid 50 for a small film
canistier full. I don’t know what it was. I had a vauge idea of
how it worked, but now I would like to get a better grasp of it. Any
text that deals with this subject in depth?

On another note, does it make anyone nervous going out to buy a
bunch of strange chemicals:detergent, roach poision, alchohol, acid,
phophates etc. I am always worried they are going to report me for
starting a meth lab. lol!

Thanks,
Tracey


#2

Tracy;

Santa Fe Jewelers supply carries Pripps flux/antifirescale pre
mixed, it is made by grobet and is quite inexpensive. I imagine most
places that carry grobet products can probably obtain it for you, It
works pretty well if you don’t put on too much, I use a very cheap
air brush to apply it and it atomizes a fery fine spray with small
particles which work far better than trying to dip a piece into it,
and the pripps is non flamable a great pluss for shipping. just very
slightly heqat the part before spraying it, Spray bottles dont work
very well, hence the cheap 10.00 air brush from a hobby shop.

Ken Ferrell
www.shadras.com


#3
  1. Does one need both boric acid and Borax to make prips?

Yes. The formula is 3 parts boric acid, to two parts each borax and
sodium phosphate (which can be trisodium, disodium, or monosodium
varieties. Most people use (and often have only heard of) the
commonly more available trisodium phosphate, also called TSP. Borax
and boric acid are both also needed, in the proportions above. If
your “three parts” amounts to about 96 grams, with the “twos” around
64 grams, or close to it, you can end up with a quart of concentrated
solution, but it need not be this concentrated. More dilute is easier
to dissolve, but then you need to apply more…

   2. Does one need to use another flux in conjunction with a
prips flux? A paste flux for example. 

Sometimes. Prips can be used as a soldering flux, if the joint is
very clean, and the solder is very clean. works better with medium
and hard solders than it does with easy. Prips is not an especially
"active" flux, so while it makes solder joints possible, it does not
promote solder flow as agressively as do the more active white paste
fluxes (or even some of the liquid fluxes such as batterns). The
other fluxes, though, are often less effective at preventing fire
stain/fire scale, so if you use them, try to limit where they are
placed to just the areas of the joint. In a pinch, of once you’re
used to it, Prips can be used for soldering, especially simpler
joints. But most people add some actual soldering flux to the
joints.

   3. If TSP is hard to get ahold of and Cascade varies from state
to state has anyone come up with an alternative.  Do you really
need it can you just use denatured alcohol and borax.... 

If you intend to make \Pprips flux, you need all three componants.
Other mixes amount to different products. plain boric acid powder in
alcohol is a fine fire scale fire stain preventative on yellow gold
alloys, but it just does not work on silver, with the surface tensions
of the metal tending to reject the boric acid coating. that, I
think, is the function of the TSP, to allow the melting mix of borax
and boric acid to wet and adhere to the silver. However, if you
wish, and are persistant, a classic method was to use just borax,
which had to be applied mulitple times and 'burned on" in order to
finally get a good cover coat. check the description of the process
in Seitz and Feingold’s “Silversmithing”. It’s a lot more work than
using Prips.

TSP may be hard to get in some areas, but it’s never impossible. In
some cases, though, you have to bite the bullet and actually order the
stuff from chemical suppliers, rather than trying to get it cheaper
at hardware stores. But check paint stores first, if the hardware
does not have it. Some of the paint stores, especially those
catering more the the professional builders rather than the home
users, may be more likely to carry it. And read the labels
carefully to be sure it contains tri sodium phosphate. Words like
"meta silicate" should not be there, and such products won’t work.

   On another note, does it make anyone nervous going out to buy a
bunch of strange chemicals:detergent, roach poision, alchohol,
acid, phophates etc. I am always worried they are going to report
me for starting a meth lab. lol! 

You’re buying the wrong stuff for a meth lab or other such nefarious
stuff.

Now, if you want multiple gallons of anydrous ammonia, (normally
used as a fertilizer), or large amounts of both fuel oil and ammonium
nitrate (also a fertilizer), then you better be in a position to
demonstrate farm use, as the first is a commonly stolen ingredient in
meth production, and the other two combine to form a powerful
explosive…

You may, however, wish to comport yourself during your buying spree
by masquerading as a normal person. If you dress very shabby, and
wander around the shop aisles clutching your precious found
merchandise to your chest while muttering incoherantly about the
wonders of modern chemistry and the hyponotic effects of, and
wonderful magic you can bring about with burning hot flames, you
might find yourself drawing attention :wink:

Peter


#4

Hello Tracey,

I know what you mean about having all this flux stuff make your head
spin. My advice would be to lay your hands on a copy of Erhard
Brepohl’s “The Theory and Practice of Goldsmithing” and read both the
section on reducing fluxes in Chapter Four (pp. 122-4) and especially
section 8.1.2 “Fluxes” in Chapter Eight (pp. 295-300). Those pages
will bring a lot of clarity to this important but confusing topic.

That said let me offer a few words in answer to your specific
questions:

1. Does one need both boric acid and Borax to make prips? 

If you are following the “traditional” formula, yes, because they are
both ingredients. But I think things are getting a bit mixed up
because Pripp’s is intended as a firescale protectant not a soldering
flux. It’ll work as a soldering flux but not as well as straight
Borax or, better yet, Borax + Boric Acid in a 3:1 ratio (I work in
sterling so this is my preferred soldering flux).

2. Does one need to use another flux in conjunction with a prips
flux? A paste flux for example. 

Since Pripp’s is a firescale protectant then yes, Pripp’s to beat the
firescale and the soldering flux of your choice for the actual solder
joint.

3. If TSP is hard to get ahold of ... Do you really need it can you
just use denatured alcohol and borax.... 

As above: Pripp’s for firescale and soldering flux (such as Borax in
alcohol) for the solder joint.

Any text that deals with this subject in depth? 

I’m totally self-taught so I’ve invested quite a bit in books and
texts. IMHO you can’t do better than the Brephol text I quoted above

Theory and Practice of Goldsmithing
By Erhard Brepohl , Charles Lewton-Brain , Tim McCreight

Price: $70.00
http://www.ganoksin.com/jewelry-books/us/product/0961598492.htm

This Publication is a Ganoksin Content Partner
http://www.ganoksin.com/borisat/directory/library/source/15/337/intro/1

Media: Hardcover
Manufacturer : Brynmorgen Press
Release data : 11 October, 2001

He gives you pretty much all the theory, temperature charts,
chemistry, diagrams and formulas that you need to bring you up to
speed and then to do it all yourself. For example, I use one of his
formulations for firescale protection and for my money it beats the
pants off of Pripp’s but, as always, your mileage may differ.

You might also want to check out this page on Pripp’s from the
un-official Orchid living legend Peter Rowe,
http://users.lmi.net/~drewid/PWR_Pripps.html

As to the fear of getting reported for buying a bunch of weird stuff
I know that I turned a corner on this the day I bought a gallon of
lab grade ethanol. They wanted a copy of every piece of ID I had and
then some. And they told me that the police would be sent a copy of
the invoice with a copy of all my documents. Once I got over that I
never really looked back. And I never did hear from the cops. I guess
what I’m saying is “who cares, let 'em come if they want to”. If we
hide what we do then we must be doing something wrong. If we just go
ahead and do it then we’ll see what we see. That said I do try and
spread my chemical purchases around a bit, just in case. :wink:

Good luck. Email me off-list if you’d like more details or whatever.

Cheers,
Trevor F.


#5

Tracey,

I just went through this too - switching to Prip’s-style flux. Hang
in there, as it’s worth it, in my opinion. I was getting too much
firescale for my taste (any is bad, of course!!), and switching has
completely rid my work of it. It’s harder to use (you have to lightly
pre-heat and spray or dip or quickly paint it on with a natural brush
and let it dry; and it is less “active” as Peter says but much much
more durable, so you can really heat up the pieces to get good
joins). I haven’t had any flow problems, but some might. I don’t use
a lot of easy solder, though. Good luck mixing your own - I gave up
and bought the commercial one!

Roseann


#6

All, here I am going from fireproof gloves (thanks very much for the
great response, keep 'em coming) to firescale and how to prevent it.
This discussion comes up so often in relation to a discussion of
Prips, or Frips or … but there is a wonderful product you
all overlook. To any who wish not to brew their own potions, yet
want something to prevent firescale As Well As serve as a soldering
flux, CUPRONIL is what you need !

It is basically the same as Prips but with an added chemical that
gives it the fluxing ability for soldering that Prips does not have.
You can obtain it in a wonderful fine-mist sprayer of 4 oz., or in 16
oz. or gallon refills. Try Rio Grande, Indian Jewelry Supply,
Thunderbird Jewelry Supply, or Frei & Borel. Gesswein has the
identical product under their own label.20

It is applied just like Prips. Heat the metal, then paint or spray
on Cupronil. If the metal temperature is correct, a white crusty
covering forms. It must be used where ever a person does not want
firescale to form when soldering. It comes off easily in the pickle
process. No other soldering flux is necessary under most
conditions.
20

Our very own Orchid buddy, Lee Epperson, is associated with this
product. Any further questions you might send directly to him, but
I’m sure you’ll all love it if you just try it. And he’ll do all
the mixing for you !

Pat


#7

Okay, this is probably a dorky question, but I learned to solder
using only Handy Flux and have needed some remedial education when
it comes to better firescale prevention. I now use boric
acid/alcohol with Battern’s flux on the joins and have had great
results with that. Anyway, the question:

When using Cupronil, Prip’s or Frip’s flux, everyone says, “heat the
metal, then apply the flux…” etc. What is the best way to pre-heat
the metal for this? Do you use a neutralized torch flame? Or just
propane? How do you keep the metal from oxidizing during this
initial heating?

Thanks for the input,
Jessee Smith
www.silverspotstudio.com


#8

Jessee,

The carrier of the chemicals in Cupronil and Prips is water. Water
based fluxes puddle when sprayed on cool metal. The anti-firescale
coating of the metal is produced when the metal is heated to a
temperature above the boiling point of water (around 212 degrees).
This causes the water carrier to boil off as the flux hits the
metal. This leaves a coating on the metal of the anti-firescale
chemicals. The silver should not oxidize at this low temperature.
The metal should not be overheated. Practice with a torch and you
will develop the technique that allows you to put on a consistent
chemical coating on the metal.

Lee Epperson


#9

Jesse,

Your question is not that unusual…in fact, I find my students
consistently overheat the metal when applying Prip’s flux. Don’t
worry too much about oxdizing the metal when applying flux…you are
not heating it to the point that oxdidation take place. The first
step is to dip the piece(s) you are solding in alcohol to remove any
oil, finger grease, etc. Then simply touch it with the torch flame.
The alcohol will burn off and warm the metal slightly. Many times
this is sufficient warming to apply the protective flux. However, if
the flux does not completely cover the piece, gently…gently warm
the piece with the very tip of the torch flame and apply more. Do
not heat the metal…warm it. If the metal begins to change color,
i.e., turn brown etc, you have overheated it at this point. When I
apply the flux a second or third time, I usually use a small brush
sufficient to quickly cover the piece. After applying it…I wait a
few seconds before reapplying the heat. This allows the flux to
adhere to the surface and when warmed again, it then forms a white
layer. Its not really that difficult…don’t make it so. Hope this
helps a bit.

For further watch for my upcoming article on the finer
points of soldering to appear in the March 05 edition of Art Jewelry
Magazine.

Cheers from Don at The Charles B elle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2


#10

Hello Jessee,

What is the best way to pre-heat the metal for (spraying on Prip's
flux)? 

I use a regular soldering flame on the metal for just a few seconds,
then spray. (You’re not heating the metal up to soldering
temperature.) The spray cools the metal, so it is necessary to
re-heat and spray until the entire surface has a nice white coating.
It does take a little time, but not having to deal with fire scale
makes the time a wise investment! I use a syringe to put a drop of
Battern’s flux on the joint(s), usually before applying Prip’s. I’ve
done that after Prip’s and had good solder results, but it’s hard to
see where the joint actually is.

I’m interested in what others say, since my method is based on
experimentation, not instruction. Judy in Kansas, where the weather
is warming and the fish are still biting!


#11

I’m like Judy Willingham, I learned early on to place my flux,either
paste or Batterns on first, because I could see the joint easier.
Also, just in case it had slipped slightly, I wanted to see it.I
also brown out the flux in the joint before applying the Prips. I
though use a soft “brushy” flame to “warm” my metal just to the
point like a drop of plain water would “sizzle” slightly.In fact,
the Prips does just that when sprayed on.

John Barton


#12

I have always used Cupronil for flux, but I still got firescale. Now
I use Stop-Ox (Rio Grande) with the Cupronil and almost never get
firescale, except on thin metal.

To preheat the piece to allow the Stop-Ox to sizzle and stick, I use
a heat gun. I love it.

J. S. Ellington
jsellington@cs.com


#13

Hi J. S.,

I manufacture and use Cupronil. I never get firescale. All fluxes
will fail and firescale will be created if the metal is maintained
under heat for a prolonged time. All solder jobs should be broken
down into short steps.

I polish most surfaces before I solder. I have found that some sheet
silver comes with firescale already on the surface. I am interested
in your procedure. Maybe there is something I am missing.

By the way if you do any vacuum casting I have developed a way to
prevent firescale when casting. Its a very simple process. Be glad
to send a free copy of the paper I wrote.

Thanks for the input.
Lee Epperson


#14

Lee,

By the way if you do any vacuum casting I have developed a way to
prevent firescale when casting. Its a very simple process. Be glad
to send a free copy of the paper I wrote. 

I would very much appreciate receivng a copy of your paper on the
above subject.

rp lerf@yahoo.com


#15

Hi Lee

I manufacture and use Cupronil. 

I didn’t realize that you manufacture Cupronil. I’ve been using it
exclusively on both gold and silver for nearly 15 years and I don’t
know what I’d do without it. Thanks for the great product!!

Beth


#16

I am interested in learning what you found about stopping firescale
in casting silver. I am a new jewlery buff and silversmith. You can
email me at seguinkid@aol.com

Murray

Discussions over this topic took place few times over the last
couple of years at the Orchid forums. You can retrieve
the threads by running a keyword search.

Check out the following address to learn more:

http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/

Best Regards
Hanuman

Murray


#17

Lee,

I used to use just the Cupronil and I did get firescale fairly
regularly. Now I paint the Cupronil onto the joint and place the
solder. Then I heat the piece with my heatgun slowly and when warm
enough I spray with Stop-Ox. I rarely get firescale now, and almost
always get it only on 22ga and thinner.

J. S. Ellington
jsellington@cs.com