I’m attempting to make my new jewellery workshop as ‘non-toxic’ as
possible. I have asked a few teachers and suppliers about how they
handle ventilation, and their suggestions were about the polishing
wheel. In most cases, questions about soldering fumes were met with
a shrug, so I thought I’d bring these questions to the Orchid Forums.
Background at the moment, making jewellery is my hobby,
with a desire to start selling in the future. My workshop is in a
garage without any sort of exhaust system; the only outside access is
the main overhead door. The torch outfit is in the back corner,
directly above a small dog door. I had hoped to incorporate the dog
door into some sort of makeshift ventilation as currently I cannot
afford an elaborate system, but no luck yet. Until now I’ve just
been working with the garage door 1/4- to fully open, depending on
the weather. I’m in the process of trying to modify a disused
barbecue into a mobile soldering station to use in the open air,
since I have yet to conjure up a plan for the garage. Additionally,
due to my husband’s job we move every few years, so overhauling the
garage each time we move isn’t financially feasible.
Mainly I work with silver, sometimes with copper. I use a Little
Torch with disposable oxygen and propane tanks. No plans at the
moment to try casting, enameling, or anything involving burning
pitch; my main concerns are about the fumes from solder, flux and
fuel. Can anyone tell me exactly what are the health issues related
to flux/fuel/solder fume exposure? I would eventually like to try
PMC (small pieces fired with a torch) and resins (regarding mixing as
well as grinding/polishing) - would working with these media outdoors
be considered safe?
When heated, are citric acid pickle fumes about equal in toxicity to
fumes from an alum pickle (which I am currently using)?
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. (While on the topic, would
the base of a terra-cotta plant pot make a suitable borax dish or
would it be too porous?) 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
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?
And finally: is an ultrasonic cleaner worth buying if I don’t intend
to use ammonia with it?
I apologize for the lengthy post! Any tips or suggestions are
welcome and appreciated.
Thank you for your time,