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Melting white gold solder twice


#1

Hi Orchidians!

A colleague of mine (many years of experience) said that it is almost
impossible to melt white gold solder a second time, and consequently
you can’t really sweat solder with it. I myself have had this problem
(Rio’s white gold ‘easy’ solder) when attempting to sweat tiny disks
of 18K yellow and 18K palladium white gold to a 14K palladium white
gold base in spite of absolutely scrupulous cleanliness, cone borax,
and a large reducing flame which brings all the parts to glowing red
at the same time…My colleague said that there is more diffusion on
the preliminary melt than one would think, thus raising the melting
point significantly. I thought this interesting, given that I
deliberately left the solder melted onto the back of the disks in a
blob to prevent excessive diffusion…Has anyone at Orchid sweat
soldered with ease with white gold solder? Doing the same exact piece
with hard silver solder instead presents no problem whatsoever. Any
input appreciated…

Thanks,
Janet in Jerusalem


#2

Hi Janet in Jerusalem,

A colleague of mine (many years of experience) said that it is
almost impossible to melt white gold solder a second time, and
consequently you can't really sweat solder with it. 

I would not agree that you cannot flow white gold solder more than
once, particularly easy white. Although I would agree that it’s more
difficult than other solders. Before the reheating of the solder the
second time I would first pickle the piece (I use a citric acid
pickle solution), then hang it in the ultrasonic and steam clean,
then coat with boric acid and alcohol, heat with a soft flame until
the boric acid has turned to a glaze, hit the hot seam with the
solder with a squirt of batterns flux (I use a bottle with a
syringe-like needle) and heat with that soft flame until it flows.

I know that sometimes you do everything right and it still won’t
flow. In that case I may add a little bit of solder to the seam to
remind the solder inside what it’s supposed to be doing. Hope that
helps.

Mark


#3

Hi Janet, This is not a problem that I have encountered. If you are
pick soldering, as many do, you are by definition pre-melting solder
or melting it twice. I have soldered white gold together and have had
to adjust it -or reflow the solder with no problem.

The problem I had when I did more white/yellow combos was that white
gold solder seemed to gain a much higher melting point when used on
certain yellow alloys. (Or the other way 'round, I can’t recall). Not
sure why this happened.

Andy


#4

Janet

what you are describing can be done with the white gold easy solder,
when the solder is not flowing properly it usually is a couple of
different things.

#1 your piece is not clean enough

#2 there is firescale on the piece and it needs to pickle more

#3 you borac and alchol ratio is not right most of the time it is to
watery, it needs to be more milky

#4 with sweat soldering the bushy flame is the best heating the
piece slowly and evenly.

hope that helps
Matthew


#5

Hi Mark!

Before reheating the solder the second time, I had done almost
exactly what you suggested. Only difference was that I used a much
stronger acid, rinsed in running water (didn’t ultrasonic and
steam), and used cone borax which has the higher melting point
needed for white gold solder. Can’t add solder to the seam because I
wasn’t soldering a seam…:-)…See next comment…

Hi Andy!

I wasn’t pick soldering…I was sweat soldering two- and three-
millimeter disks (.35mm thick) to a mirror-finnish palladium
white-gold base. Pick soldering or soldering a seam is much easier
because the solder itself receives the flame directly. With sweating
sheet to sheet, only the pieces being joined–not the flame itself–
have to melt the solder. And there is no way to add a bit as Mark
suggested because it is crucial not to have any solder on the shiny
base beyond the tiny disk…

Everyone:

Has anyone sweat soldered small pieces of sheet to a large piece of
sheet with white gold solder without any problem getting the solder
to run the second time? The key point here is that in the second
soldering, the solder never receives the flame directly…

Who’s soft white-gold easy solder do you use and what are it’s
melting and flow points? My Easy Rio is 710/787F. and 1310/1450C.
Anyone have anything with a lower melting point?

Thanks for any and all input!
Janet in Jerusalem


#6

I have found that when white gold gets a little difficult ( which
seems to be its nature) a good pickle and then a trip through the
ionic cleaner make all the difference in the world. Seems the ionic
cleans off what the pickle and steamer will often leave behind. Next
time you get a spot that the solder just will not flow give it a
try. It has become my first line of defense for balky solder flow.

Frank Goss


#7

Jumping in late here and this may have been mentioned but…

If you sweat solder on one piece of your assembly you will see the
solder gets frosty looking. Try breaking that frost with a wire
brush or a rubber wheel or whatever works. Doesn’t have to be a high
polish, just brighter than dull. I don’t know if solder forms a skin
with extra oxides or what, but you’re trying to start the solder
flowing without loading too much heat on it, so get rid of any
impediments.


#8

Hi Mathew!

when the solder is not flowing properly it usually is a couple of
different things. 
#1 your piece is not clean enough #2 there is firescale on the
piece and it needs to pickle more #3 you borac and alchol ratio is
not right most of the time it is to watery, it needs to be more
milky #4 with sweat soldering the bushy flame is the best heating
the piece slowly and evenly. 

I’m afraid it was none of the above…The piece was

  1. cleaned first in Sparex,

  2. rinsed in running water,

  3. cleaned in strong hydrochloric acid for 60 seconds,

  4. again rinsed in running water,

  5. surfaces fine-sanded and then not touched by hand,

  6. dipped in alcohol/boric acid and flamed,

  7. covered with a thick layer of milky borax made from
    high-melting-point cone borax,

  8. heated with a very large, very bushy flame, first from below to
    get the large, palladium-white-gold base heated first.

As mentioned in my earlier post, I have no trouble doing the exact
same piece with hard silver solder. As a matter of fact, in my 30
years at the bench, I have never had a problem of getting any solder
to run–the only soldering problem I have ever come across is the
second heating of white gold solder when sweat-soldering…

Thanks for the input.
Janet in Jerusalem


#9

Hi Neil,

If you sweat solder on one piece of your assembly you will see the
solder gets frosty looking. Try breaking that frost with a wire
brush or a rubber wheel or whatever works. Doesn't have to be a
high polish, just brighter than dull. I don't know if solder forms
a skin with extra oxides or what, but you're trying to start the
solder flowing without loading too much heat on it, so get rid of
any impediments. 

I always do that, usually with a glass brush. In this case, after
acid cleaning and rinsing in running water, I fine-sanded the solder
side of the tiny disk with a cloth-like abrasive sheet laid over a
thick rubber pad so that the abrasive would get both the solder blob
and the entire base of the disk around it. It was totally cleaned of
everything and well protected by high-melting-point borax…

Thanks for the input,
Janet in Jerusalem


#10
It was totally cleaned of everything and well protected by
high-melting-point borax..... 

hmmm, well, when things don’t go right alter your variables. Maybe
you could try a thinner flux. A thick flux, imho, can act as a heat
shield sometimes. For years I’ve used spray cuprinil strictly as a
fire coat and not as a soldering flux. Lately I’ve been using it as
the flux. Things go a little quicker now. Live and learn. I was never
a fan of borax. messy stuff, and potentially dangerous when you burn
it off.

Another thing you might try…after cleaning the flowed solder well,
instead of coating the whole shebang with flux, try just dipping your
bezel(we’re talking about a bezel, aren’t we? So many posts, it gets
confusing) lightly in the liquid flux. This makes sure the flux is
where you really need it, on the bezel mating surface. Heat that
gently till it solidifies, then a gentle cuprinil spray, then go
ahead and solder it.

HTH


#11

Neil - I’m with you on using the Cupronil as flux, its great. I also
have the Rio version of it, but I somehow like the Cupronil somewhat
better (my favorite color??). I almost never use paste flux anymore,
and I guess I never liked the Batterns flux - I always felt I had
trouble w/ it (probably not its fault though…).

Ivy


#12

Hi Neil–Thanks for your reply, but no, I’m not soldering a
bezel…:-)…In fact, I thank you all very much for taking the time
to reply and to help, but I am afraid general soldering tips are not
of aid here…:-)…As mentioned in an earlier post, I have no
problem doing the same exact piece in the same exact way with any
other solder (gold or silver)–it’s only the white gold solder that
presents a problem…So I will ask again in as brief a way as
possible:

Has anyone actually (1) sweat-soldered (2) white gold sheet to sheet
(3) with white-gold solder with ease? The ‘act’ needs to include all
three points to be relevant…:-)…!

Thanks,
Janet in Jerusalem


#13
Has anyone actually 

yup, I just duplicated your situation as described in the first post
with the exception of using Gesswein self pickling flux and medium wg
solder, I don’t keep easy on hand, nor borax. I had no trouble at
all.

Now it occurs to be that if you are using a thick coating of borax
on tiny sheets, it is possible that your tiny discs (2-3mm x.35mm is
not weighty at all)are ‘floating’ on top of the liquid borax(which is
pretty viscous) and not actually touching the main piece. Try
pressing lightly with a clean poker.

Pick soldering or soldering a seam is much easier because the
solder itself receives the flame directly 

I hope this doesn’t come as a disillusionment but its not advisable
to rely on heating the solder directly. Heat should pass from piece
to solder. If the parent metal isn’t at the flow point of the solder,
the solder just won’t flow no matter how hot you make the solder. In
fact you may wind up overheating the solder, actually changing its
composition because boiling drives off some of the alloy. I never
liked easy solder for this reason(which is why I don’t keep it on
hand), it boils too quick.

which brings all the parts to glowing red at the same time.... 

If its glowing red its TOO HOT. You prolly boiled the solder.

My Easy Rio is 710/787F. and 1310/1450C. 

I dunno what you have there but it doesn’t sound right. Get thee
some medium or hard solder and can the borax.

Doing the same exact piece with hard silver solder instead presents
no problem whatsoever 

Well, there ya go

I think solders are named backwards. My experience is that hard
solder is in the long run easier to work with and easy solder is a
pain not worth screwin around with.


#14
I think solders are named backwards. My experience is that hard
solder is in the long run easier to work with and easy solder is a
pain not worth screwin around with. 

I agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly. When I first started
making things, I was using easy solder. I thought “I’m just beginning
so start off with the easy stuff” but I found it to be a complete
pain. Previous joints would just collapse on subsequent solderings. I
moved onto medium solder then later hard after someone on Orchid told
me about multiple joints and the protocol being to use hard, medium
then easy. I found that I much preferred the hard solder and pretty
much only use that now. It will hold up even when using hard on
another joint nearby. I occasionally solder a bail onto a pendant
with medium but generally prefer hard and it makes for stronger
joints too!

Helen
UK


#15
I just duplicated your situation....... 

If you didn’t use 710/787F. (1310/1450C) white gold solder sweated
to 18K palladium white gold and then soldered to a base of palladium
white gold, you didn’t duplicate the situation…:-)…Any other
materials are not problematic!

it is possible that your tiny discs (2-3mm x.35mm is not weighty
at all) are 'floating' on top of the liquid borax..... and not
actually touching the main piece. Try pressing lightly with a
clean poker. 

Pressed hard with a clean poker during heating. Didn’t help because
the sweated solder did not even melt at all, let alone liquify.

hope this doesn't come as a disillusionment but its not advisable
to rely on heating the solder directly. Heat should pass from
piece to solder. If the parent metal isn't at the flow point of the
solder, the solder just won't flow no matter how hot you make the
solder....... 

I ALWAYS melt the solder by heating the pieces to be joined to the
melting point of the solder. I NEVER heat the solder
directly—that’s why I don’t pick solder…:-)…

If its glowing red its TOO HOT. You prolly boiled the solder. 

Unlike silver and yellow gold, highly polished palladium white gold
looks red VERY quickly, so the usual ‘rules’ about glowing red don’t
apply…If the solder had ‘boiled’, the disk would have been
sucked flat into contact with the base by capilarity as usual and
would not have remained the smooth, small blob it was before
heating…

I never liked easy solder for this reason (which is why I don't
keep it onhand), it boils too quick. 

With silver and yellow gold solder, I have ALWAYS used ONLY hard,
even with over fifty solderings on the same piece with not problems.
Special considerations are necessary when doing a piece which is
composed of 18K yellow gold, AND 18K and 14K palladium white gold,
AND sterling silver. Must use yellow gold solder, white gold solder,
and silver solder with the similar melting points. The only white
gold solders I have found with a melting point similar to hard
silver solder is always listed as Easy. White gold hard and medium
solders are WAY higher than hard silver solder!

My Easy Rio white gold solder is 710/787F. and 1310/1450C. 
I dunno what you have there but it doesn't sound right. Get thee
some medium or hard solder and can the borax. 

What were you using?? If anyone knows of a white gold solder with a
lower melting point than Rio’s Easy white gold solder (=Hard silver
solder), please do let me know where it is available!

Doing the same exact piece with hard silver solder instead
presents no problem whatsoever 

Afraid not…:-)…! The whole point of the post was regarding this
particular type of solder on these particular materials…:-)…!! No
problem with silver—I would rather use gold solder on gold…


#16
What were you using?? If anyone knows of a white gold solder with
a lower melting point than Rio's Easy white gold solder (Hard
silver solder), please do let me know where it is available! 

Stuller Easy 14k Plumb White cadmium bearing 1275 F

D H Fell 14K White Easy cadmium free 1300F

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#17
If you didn't use 710/787F. (1310/1450C) white gold solder 

Just an observation, probably of no import other than it may confuse
some people. You’ve switched the F for the C here. Fahrenheit temps
are the higher numbers, and Celsius the lower…

Peter