Hello everyone ! here its going to be my first question at ganoksin .
I ve been thinking how to make my own solder. Gold and Silver. I used to buy from suppliers but then i thought why not make my own than buying ?
Can anyone give me a tip or formula to make Sterling silver & Gold solder ?
Buy the Complete Metalsmith by Tim McCreight and look at page 114. This is a great reference book for much of what we do. I must admit to the same curiosity and did make my own solder. It works, but I decided why bother. Just buy enough of each to cover your work needs and make it only in an emergency. Pay very close attention to Tim’s precautions about how to treat zinc in the silver solders. You can find this information in many locations and a search of the archives will result in previous discussions of this topic. Good luck…Rob
I follow an Indonesian fellow called Kaiser Power (?) On YouTube and his recipe uses only fine silver and brass in different quantities. His skills are awesome!
I encourage anyone who works with silver to make their own solder at least once. It is process that requires measuring skills beyond, “That about looks right.” (My preferred means of critical measurement) to create a workable solder. The best reason to buy your solder is consistency. Knowing that the H-65 you buy from your favorite vendor will have the same properties as the H-65 you buy a year later is critical. But then again experimentation is fun. Anytime you lean something it has been a good day.
Unless you are doing truly historic reproductions I would just buy it. I think the time spent making solder is time lost making a product you can sell at a price you are comfortable charging.
Rob mentioned Tim McCreight’s Complete Metalsmith book and I suggest it is required reading in any shop at any level.
You can make solder for any metal that you work with, be it gold, silver, or other alloys. Even those that contain aluminum, lead, and tin…
For the silver/copper system, there is a eutectic point of 28% by weight of copper to silver.
This is the point where the alloy composition melts at the lowest temperature. You can make solder of any composition that will melt at a lower point than sterling. DO NOT use a eutectic alloy of copper and silver since it will be off color… Zinc and silver also have composition points which are even lower in melting temperature… adding zinc is difficult to control since zinc tends to burn off at its melting point…however, a zinc silver alloy will keep it’s bright color. Zinc/Silver/Copper alloys all melt at a lower temperature any of the pure metals alone… a three metal system will have ternary points rather than a single eutectic.
I know that this seems complicated, but you can google phase diagrams for two and three metal systems…start with at a two metal composition and google the phase diagram for it…with a two metal alloy system, you can vary the composition of the alloy to precisely match it’s melting point… that way you can make solder that will melt at different temperatures…with a two metal system, the eutectic point is always the lowest melting point… in the copper/silver system, at the 28 weight% copper eutectic, the melting point will be 1430 degrees F… moving towards either more copper or more silver will increase the melting point…move towards more silver, as too much copper will cause darkening of the alloy which is your solder…the melting point of pure silver is 1763 degrees, that of sterling is 1640 degrees F… sterling is .975 weight percent silver and .025 weight percent copper.,. if you are working with sterling, you can’t add more silver to lower the melting point… you would have to add more copper…more copper will give you a lower melting point solder, but you are limited by the amount of copper than can be added due to darkening of the color…the zinc/silver system is a lot more complicated… there is a 700 degree C melting point of an alloy of about 25W% zinc… adding more zinc progressively lowers the melting point…but there is no eutectic point in this system…
you can find these composition/phase (liquid, solid) diagrams for any alloy of any two or even three metals by googling them…there are so many alloys of gold that are of bi or tri metallic composition that making gold solder is both easy and difficult… difficult because the phase diagrams become so complicated… measuring the amount of alloying metal to lower the melting point of what your wish to make into solder has to be done precisely with a very accurate scale…some diagrams make it even harder as they give the percentages of metal by atom percent… you would have to convert that into weight by multiplying it by the atomic weight, not the atomic number…
After getting tired of paying for solders, I started to make my own, using the phase diagrams.
I make my own solders. It’s just like alloying any metal.
Just be causious that the really low melting alloys should be added last as you do not want them to burn off. Melt for eg. the silver and copper, move the flame, wait a little bit then add the zinc, then slowly heat it all again with slightly less heat. You’ll notice when it’s too hot for them as they will start smoking. Pour it into an ingot, then roll it into sheet or wire. Easy peasy.
The main thing is not to be scared about messing anything up. Try and try again. You’ll be happy that you won’t have to rely on purchasing solder. You can even come up with your own formulas.
Here is what I use:
75% FINE SILVER, 22% PURE COPPER, 3% ZINC
70% FINE SILVER, 20% PURE COPPER, 10% ZINC
65% FINE SILVER, 20% COPPER, 15% ZINC
EXTRA EASY 630-660C
FINE SILVER 55%, 22% ZINC, 21% PURE COPPER, 2% TIN
Zinc is necessary to keep the solder white, like the silver that it bonds to… it’s somewhat tricky to work with zinc… the recipes given by silly_smith are really good, thanks for that!..
I have made some pieces experimenting with embedding simple designs made out of copper and brass wires and balls that were melted onto the surface of pieces of silver…controlling the temperature was very difficult… mixed metals are attractive but they make thier own solder as they sink into the silver…copper/silver is hard to control, as overheating will move the composition toward the eutectic and discolor the surrounding silver with a darker alloy… brass is even harder because of the zinc content… anyone who is interested in the metallurgy behind alloys will find a wonderland of scientific information… even the making of carbon steel has multiple phases at different temperature…
I’ve taken my hobby interest in rocks and stones to the next level, which is geochemistry… it’s a vast scientific wonderland also, based on thermodynamics at high pressures and temperatures and compositions, and isotope systematics… but igneous rocks do tell you by their isotopic and trace element signatures, the evolution of the entire solid earth…I’m handicapped by my lack of formal training…because of of this is PhD stuff!!!
Thank you very much for your detailed information I really needed this , I keep or note in my book now .
Some people don’t want to share their tips ( here I asked someone and said nothing about it ) but this really made my day and thanks
Thank you so much I will check it
Thank you very much for your help that’s really useful information
You’re welcome. I totally understand. I don’t know why people don’t share information more often. Honestly mostly everything I know I learnt from someone else either by seeing it or reading about it. Some things are trial and error. Knowledge is supposed to be shared and it makes me happy to know it has been helpful to you. Goodluck!