When heated, are citric acid pickle fumes about equal in
toxicity to fumes from an alum pickle (which I am currently using)?
No, citric acid is much less toxic. Doesn't work as well, must be
heated, takes longer.
Is one flux less toxic than the others? I use Dandix and have
tried Battern's self-pickling yellow flux; just purchased a borax
cone but have not yet had a chance to try it out.
Yes, some contain fluorides.
(While on the topic, would the base of a terra-cotta plant pot
make a suitable borax dish or would it be too porous?)
I think yes. My borax dish (from England) is not at al porous and
is slightly scratchy on the bottom.
As well, for firescale I've been using Prips, but I can't help but
wonder if boric acid and denatured alcohol would be a safer
alternative given the less-than-ideal ventilation.
Actually, a big ole' garage with the door cracked is in some ways
better than a tiny, enclosed basement.
Any suggestions for alternatives to polishing wheel (does a
rock tumbler loaded with steel shot really produce a good polish?
Is it suitable for medium to large items, or only small pieces?) or
less toxic polishing compounds?
Most people on this list would, I think, say, no, a tumbler does not
give a good polish. But if I were you I would buy a flex shaft
before a polisher (if only because they are easier to move). You
can do a lot of polishing with a flex shaft. And yes, you can
tumble large items, such as a bangle bracelet.
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay