Lead solder removal

Can anyone suggest a method of removing lead solder from an English
Sovereign (pure gold). Please note this particular item is mounted in
an 18ct mounted. Cheers, Johnny the Jeweller.

Hi Johnny, I remove lead solder by filing and sanding as much of it as
possible and then dipping the piece into hydrochloric acid, diluted
with 50% water. Depending on how thick the remaining layer of lead
is, it may take up to an hour or two to dissolve

Valentin Yotkov

I’ve had excellent luck soaking gold in Hydrochloric acid to remove
lead solder - leave it overnight and after you rinse it well in clear
water, rub it down with a paste of baking soda and mild detergent
and, voila, good as new - or nearly so.


Can anyone suggest a method of removing lead solder from an English
Sovereign (pure gold).

Johnny, a good soaking in muriatic or hydrochloric acid will remove
the bulk of the solder. Usually the solder has already eaten into the
gold slightly. This will require a little polishing after the soaking.
Do the soaking outside to avoid breathing the fumes. Bruce

Hydrochloric acid will remove lead solder. Also sold as Muriatic
Acid in hardware stores. I use a small plastic container with a lid
that I can float in my ultrasonic - speeds up the process a bit. If
you don’t want to use the ultrasonic, a little heat helps as well.
Don’t get your fingers in it. Use tweezers to check the process
occasionally. Won’t hurt the gold at all. I’ve left heavily leaded
items in for days. I assume there are no stones in the piece? Use
the same stone precautions as you would for pickle.

johnny - see if you can find an electronic supply store such as a
’radio shack’ type in usa. they have little spools of woven copper
wires impregnated with a flux: unwind a longish piece - unless you
have asbestos fingers - stick the tip on top of the soft solder while
you turn on the soldering iron or gun just up the wire from the tip.
when the wire won’t pull up anymore, snip off the used part & guess
what you do next – good luck, & tell the alchemist the object is to
turn lead into gold - not the other way around! ive

Can anyone suggest a method of removing lead solder from an English
Sovereign (pure gold). Please note this particular item is mounted in
an 18ct mounted.

Get some iron wire, such as baling wire (tie wire, binding wire) and
clip off a hand’s length. Touch the tip of the wire into the solder,
and heat the wire at the opposite end, to wick the solder up to the
heat. When the wire is coated, use a clean one and repeat it until you
have most of the solder up.

Next, go to an electronics supply house and find “desoldering braid”
or “wicking braid”. This is a flat braid made of copper wires. It
comes in a coil usually. Lay this braid across the solder, and again,
heat the braid away from your piece, to get the solder to wick up the
braid. Keep wicking until it’s all gone. No damage to your coin, just
time consuming.

Hi Johnny. The best and fastest way I know is muratic acid. It is very
nasty though and I would use care with contact and fumes as well. But
it works well and fast.

Good luck, and take care
Bob Martin

Hello, If you leave the pure gold coin in hot pickle, eventualy it
will eat the lead solder off without any damage to the gold coin.
This may take a few hours and a little brushing. Do not heat the coin
with a torch or the lead may eat into the coin. Daniel Grandi

Johnny, There is a product in the electronics Mfg.ing industry called
“Solder Wick” (brand name)by Solder Removal company. It is a flat
braid of tiny copper wires. Comes in different widths and coated or
not with flux. Hold this on the solder, heat and the solder “wicks”
or climbs up the braid. You cant get every last bit of solder off,
but it usually gets most of it. Other companys make it and market it
under different names, but it is pretty much all the same. There are
also some pretty fancy solder removal tools in that industry. If you
know anyone that stuffs and solders P.C. boards, they probably have
some of this stuff just laying around for quick clean-ups on boards.
There is a company Hdqtrd in El Monte, Calif called Marshall
Industries, that sells alot of hand tools for electronics assembly.
They used to sell Solder-Wick and/or another brand. They sell for
alot of tool and assembly supply Mfg.er’s. some of them are great for
jewelry work. 1-800-800-2968 should get you straignt into the tool
sales division. Its been a awhile since I talked to them, but they
have been around a long time so I’m sure they are still there.
Regards, Linda Bretana

Solder Wick (the flat copper braid) can be homemade by using liquid
rosin flux and dipping stranded copper wire into the flux, the finer
the stranding the better. I’ve gotten the liquid flux from Radio Shack
before although it’s been years.

This flux is also very handy for electronics type of soldering;
tinning wires, repairing cracked foil leads on a circuit board, making
up connectors etc.

Use with a small pencil type soldering iron, a wet sponge or rag and
rosin core solder. Tin the tip of the iron and wipe it off on the
sponge to keep contaminants off.

There is also a plunger type device called something like a
solder-pul-it to remove large amounts of solder. Also available at
…you guessed it… Radio Shack.

IMHO The full procedure would be first the solder-pul-it. Next the
wicking and last the soaking in HCl Acid. Depending on the severity
of the contamination.

HTH Glad to have something to contribute.

Dan Wellman (usually lurking)


We always use muriatic acid, available at a hardware store used for
cleaning masonry. Do it at the end of the day, just before you go
home. under a ventilation hood. All you need to do is put a little
muriatic acid in a Pyrex beaker, enough to cover the item, put the
beaker in a pan with water on a hot plate. Heat the hot plate to a
point where the muriatic acid is steaming, unplug the hot plate and
drop it your lead soldered item. You will notice that it fizzes right
away. Now go home and forget about it. The next morning remove the
item and rinse it off, pour the muriatic acid back in its container
for use another day. The lead soldered area will be dark and flake
right off, you may have to polish it with a stiff brush to get it out
of hard to reach places. I have done this a hundred times over the
last 20 years and the muriatic acid has never damaged anything and it
removes it all. People are amazed because they think its impossible
to get off, even other goldsmiths believe that. So charge for this
knowledge, its stinky and a little dangerous and worth $30.00

Good luck,
Mark P.

Hydrochloric acid will remove lead solder.  Also sold as Muriatic
Acid in hardware stores.  

I was almost positive that hydrochloric and muriatic were different
acids but, not liking the taste of crow (thanks, but I have enough
fiber in my diet without having to supplement!), I decided to look it
up in one of my chemistry books. Sure enough, you were absolutely
correct … but, you already knew that. Thanks for setting me
straight! Yet another example of why this group is so excellent! :slight_smile:


How does one remove lead based solder from a 10K yellow gold ring?
A customer of mine tried to fix a break in the shank and used a great
quantity of electrical circuit type solder. I had to remove it to
fix the ring properly. I did a lot of filing and sanding. Is there
an easier way? Thanks in advance.

Dale Pavatte, Diamonds For You, Decherd, Tennessee

Dale, Be cautious when sanding lead solder not to breathe particals
or contaminate your bench. Lead solder also clogs your files.

Regards J Morley Coyote Ridge Studio

How does one remove lead based solder…

MURIATIC ACID (20% Hydrogen Chloride) does the job on lead solder.
Available at any hardware/building supply house. Takes a little
while depending on the amount of lead, but it works. Exercise proper
caution as listed on the container, and be careful of which stones
are left in the mounting. Won’t hurt diamonds, and doesn’t seem to
effect corundum and other “hard” stones. Muriatic acid will eat
organic material, so opals and pearls are for sure not good
candidates for the treatment. I would not recommend trying the acid
with emeralds, either. I haven’t seen any list of which stones may
be harmed by Muriatic acid, so, if unsure, be safe, err on the side
of caution and remove the stone in question before using the acid
bath. Recently Muriatic acid was suggested ( Hi, Jim) to clean dirty
jewelry before doing any work so nothing burns in under the stones
and I won’t get chased out of my shop by that sickening
cologne/soap/scum/body oil smell we’re all familiar with. Heating
was recommended, but I opted instead for a small plastic bottle with
a tight fitting cap (pill bottle) that I can suspend in my
ultrasonic cleaner using a special made holder which keeps the
bottle from sinking in the water and creating a problem. I have been
told that Muriatic acid is a diluted hydrochloric acid, which, I
assume by the name, contains chlorine. Don’t know for sure. But,
I’ve not noticed any adverse effects on the karat metal and sterling
I have used Muriatic acid on in the years I’ve been using it. Maybe
because the items aren’t left in it for any longer than necessary,
or maybe because the item is usually worked on soon after it is
removed from the acid and any residue is burned off. Maybe because
it’s diluted. Being simply a bench mechanic/jeweler/designer of 30+
years and not a chemist, I’m not too concerned with how or why the
stuff works. I only know it does what I want it to do, and it does
the job quite well. Of course, proper caution is exercised and
highly recommended, when using any chemical.

Dale, My first thought would be to simply cut out the soldered
portion and replace that section of the shank. Jerry in Kodiak

Hello Dale,

The best way is to scrape of the easy reachable parts. The rest you
can solve in ferry chloride 50% or stronger solution This will solve
the lead and tin and leave the gold and copper intact. However if all
the lead is solved sometimes big parts of the gold are gone. This
comes if they have haeted up lead with gold above 250 degrees
Celsius. it will amalgam together If you solve this in the ferry
chloride it removes also the amalgamated gold.

Martin Niemeijer

How does one remove lead based solder. 

Hi, If there is a lot of the solder on the piece, remove as much as
possible by sanding… then throw the item in your pickle pot
overnight and the solder should dissolve… no fancy chemicals
needed. Daniel Grandi

Racecar Jewelry co. inc.

Dear Dale Pavatte

How does one remove lead based solder from a 10K yellow gold ring? 

Remove as much of the solder as yoy can with mechanical action
(filing, sanding etc.). The submerge the item in a mix of 3 parts
acetic acid and one part hydrogenperoxide, best warmed but not
boiling. Leave for several days. Take it up an between and brush off
the white powder that is formed. It has worked for me on more than
one occasion.

Kind regards
Niels L=F8vschal, Rutsker, Denmark
phone (+45) 56 94 90 60