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Forgot ring in pickle

Hi all,

I forgot an 18k yellow gold wedding band in the pickle somewhere
between 24- 48 hours. The ring was soldered with 18k hard and the
pickle solution wasn’t fresh, so probably not terribly strong(?).
Has this weakened the solder joint? Should I cut it open and
re-solder it, or just continue working on it? It still needs to be
rounded out some more and will have flush set stones in it as well.
Thanks so much,



Unless the solder is porous, the pickle will only have acted on the
surface of the metal, and the interior will be unaffected. You should
be able to tell if there’s a problem while you round it out, but I’d
be surprised if it hurt it.


I routinely leave 18k jewelry in pickle overnight and occasionally
longer. Haven’t had any problems with it yet.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Hi Kay, it would probably be best to resolder the ring. Even thought
the acid will probably not effect the gold in the solder, it may
effect the metals it is alloyed with. Just cut the ring through at
the joint and resolder.

Richard UK

If the solution was not hot (off) it’s probably ok…test the join
and then flush set the stones.,polish it all to your chosen finish
and.then check the join again should be fine.18kt is very forgiving
stuff…and should hold up even after having been sitting in a fairly
weak pickle for a day…rer

I routinely leave 18k jewelry in pickle overnight and occasionally
longer. Haven't had any problems with it yet. 

This is an interesting topic. I work mainly in sterling silver and
have also often left jewellery in my pickle pot overnight or for
longer periods of time without a problem. However, I have recently
made my daughter a quite complex necklace for her prom in June. It
has many parts which are all hand-fabricated and therefore contains
many solder joints. After every solder joint, I test for strength. If
the part (eg jump ring soldered to setting) comes away or there is
ANY movement at all - it gets soldered again and tested again so
that by the time it is finished, every joint is rock-solid.

However, I left the necklace in the pickle for a few days once
fabrication was finished, thinking that it would do no harm and when
I removed it, a number of the previously rock-solid solder joints
were now weak and came apart when tested. It was more of an
inconvenience than anything else as I just had to resolder the
affected joints - but I am intrigued as to why this would have

I use plumb sterling hard solder (bought from Stuller) and sodium
bisulphate pickle. Any thoughts welcomed.


Hi again,

So 3 people said don’t worry about leaving it in the pickle, and 1
person said to resolder it… Does anyone else want to chime in? I
would really appreciate it. The reason I even think to ask is because
once I left a silver ring in the pickle for a few days and the bezel
came unsoldered later as I was setting the stone. Not fun. I’m not
concerned about the gold so much as whatever may be in the alloy of
the solder. To be safe I guess I should just cut and resolder, but I
would like to know the chemistry and physics behind this topic if
there is an educated party willing share!

Feel free to contact me off list if you so desire:


Unless the solder actually looks compromised-- i.e.: pitted or
cracked, I would leave it alone and proceed as normal. I too have
left items in the pickle for fairly long periods and have not had
any trouble.


he reason I even think to ask is because once I left a silver ring
in the pickle for a few days and the bezel came unsoldered later as
I was setting the stone. 

Some time ago, there was a discussion the forum what is the best
pickle. At a time I suggested that the only right way to do it is to
boil jewelry in the 10% acid solution. This was not received very
well, but the reason for the practice is to avoid the situation that
you describe. If joint is really soldered, you can leave it in the
pickle for a thousands of years without any harm. However, it could
happen that joint is only appear to be soldered and only held
together by flux. If flux penetrated deeply, the conventional
would not do any good, but joint invariably comes apart either during
setting, or even worse during polishing.

Leonid Surpin

In my experience with leaving things in sulphuric acid pickle
overnight, say about 4 hours hot and 12 hours cold:- Stirling silver
is etched and the solder is weakened a lot; 9ct gold survives but the
9ct solder is weakened; and 18ct metal and solder are not affected.

If the solder looks porous then it is weakened. A scraper or scalpel
should cut it easily producing crumbly shavings. I think the copper
and zinc are dissolved leaving behind the porous remains of silver or
gold if it is 9ct. These porous remains will behave as a harder
solder to re-melt, but are weak due to being porous. They can be
revived without breaking up the item by cleaning off the worst of the
porous surface, fluxing and adding a small amount of fresh solder.
The fresh solder will melt before the previous solder (of the same
grade) and the joint should hold together while the fresh solder

You could replicate the incident by soldering some scraps of the
same metal using the same solder and leave it in your pickle for
longer than before, then test the joint by trying to break it. You
will also be able to test how the original solder re-melts if/when it
is porous, and how it behaves when adding some fresh solder.

Cheers, Alastair

I found that from time to time I would get busy and leave something
too long in the pickle, so I devised a system for myself that works -
I bought a simple kitchen timer. Now when I put things in the pickle,
I set the timer for “x” minutes and then I am comfortable proceeding
with what I am doing. When the timer goes off, I can either choose to
reset it or go take the item out of the pickle. Obviously this works
for me, may not work for you, but again may be a solution for you if
you set the timer for 8 hours so it would buzz at days end and be a
reminder to you to check your pickle pot.


Hello K,

Metal is not going to be damaged by pickle. It’s to weak a solution,
even if was heated. The ring is just going to be really clean. I hot
quench in the pickle because I want a stronger quicker cleaning
at times. (Strongest reaction will only leach out a bit of alloy on
the surface. We’re talking Microns.)

Since I the only one in the shop, I don’t get complaints. It’s not
something you want to make a habit of. There is also a danger of heat
shock if you don’t know your stones.

The only time you need to careful of leaving thing in overnight is
when you have stone in the rings. Diamonds, Rubies, or Sapphire are
usually no problem. (Fracture filling being the only time you may

What is a problem is doublets. Synthetic Peridot, opals with a
quartz tops, anything glued together. The pickle will attack the glue
and you’ll get separation.

Never under any circumstances put Malachite in the pickle. It react
instantly and get eaten up like a Alka-Seltzer table in water.

Be careful of pearls, they can oxidize and go frosty white.

These are the common problem stones, there are more. That’s all I can
think of for now.


Jim Zimmerman
Alpine Custom Jewellers & Repair

I have found the kitchen timer to be great. When working I have many
unique enamel projects going at once and group them for efficiency
[enamel a group, grind a group, polish a group]. I bill by time so
tracking is important. At this point I have 3 electronic timers that
each can track 3 projects. I have put a small strip of frosted
transparent tape by the #1, #2 and #3 timer buttons. I can then
pencil in a descriptive word for each project [and erase when the
project is done]. In this way it is a simple matter to just push the
appropriate button when timing and keep a running tally on any

It is important to get a timer that will track up as well as down. I
can tally that a job took 2 hours and 42 minutes - OR - set a timer
for the 40 minutes it takes for my kiln to heat.

I have to add, if I am timing something important, like having to
take something out of the pickle, I will use the clip on the timer to
attach it to myself like a pager. It doesn’t do any good if a timer
goes off and you are away and can’t hear it…done that.

Orchid Rules!
Karla in sunny S. California

I was always told by my Master Goldsmith that silver solder joints
were made brittle by extended periods in acid based pickles.

If you want to remove firestain then heat and quench in pickle three
to four times.

Other than that, there shouldn’t be any need to leave silver in warm
pickle for very long at all.

Chris Backhouse

I was always told by my Master Goldsmith that silver solder joints
were made brittle by extended periods in acid based pickles. 

Try it and see what happens. Personnel, I don’t think so. The pickle
only treats the surface of metal.

Now if your doing electro cleaning. You could have a problem.

Talk to ya later,

Jim Zimmerman
Alpine Custom Jewellers & Repair

I was always told by my Master Goldsmith that silver solder joints
were made brittle by extended periods in acid based pickles. 

From observation, I would agree that this is true. My routine is as

prepare joint (clean, tight, etc)


solder (plumb hard sterling solder)

cool slightly and quench in water

TEST for strength (if it gives or fails, resolder after cleaning. If
it’s solid and I can’t budge it, continue to next step)

pickle (hot sodium bisulphate solution)

continue to next fabrication step or onto finishing process.

Example in question: complicated necklace with many solder joints -
bezel and backplate settings for cabochon cut stones and open backed
bezel settings for faceted stones - all with jump rings soldered to
settings, which were then joined together by jump rings.

Problem: Some of the insides of the cab settings had stubborn black

My proposed solution: To leave the necklace in the pickle over a
weekend where I wasn’t going to do any silver work - based on others
saying that it would not affect the structure of the piece, only the
surface. The crockpot was turned off so it was left in cold pickle
for the weekend.

Result: When I removed the piece and rinsed it, I tested the joints
again for strength to ensure the integrity of the necklace and a
number of the jump rings just came off in my hand at the slightest
nudge!!! REMEMBER that these joints were rigorously tested after
soldering and prior to being pickled and they WERE very strong.

ALL joints were thoroughly tested and the failed ones were
re-soldered and retested so all was well with the world again - but I
WON’T be leaving anything in the pickle for extended periods again.


When I was a student at TIJT, some iron had gotten the pickle and the
projects we were working on became distinctly pink. No problem some
fresh pickle and hydrgen peroxide will carry the day and remove the
copper. But sez I, we dont need to take all day.


So by sticking the tip of a Hoffman steamer into our pickle/peroxide
mix I quickly brought the temperature up to near boiling. The copper
vanished off mine very rapidly. A friend, who had left his in while
shooting the bull for 10 min. longer, removed his after I reminded
him. The project made of brass and soldered with 10 Kt. medium
solder, was very badly pitted and needed to be redone.

I used to clean dirty industral parts using 30 gal of soap and water
with 3/4 " hose of 250 # steam or 475 degree super heated water. I
never had the pitting problem before. Never used pickle and hydrogen
peroxide togather before.

With an minor in chemistry and working my way through school as a lab
assistant, I have worked with some impressive materials. That day I
learned how rapidly pickle and hydrogen peroxide works while very
hot. - Very Impressive !

ROBB = Retired Old Baby Boomer