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Neutralizing the pickle pot


#1
 And last thing of all: AVOID neutralizing the pickle pot!!!! Mucho
dangerous, even with a mask (paranoia is good when you're
pregnant). As for the perfect mask to use, in the past year, there
were a lot of posts regarding safety masks, so look in the
archives.

Can one of you tell what the gases are that are released when you
neutralize pickle with baking soda? Seems like a good question for
Peter Rowe. Are we trading contained water pollution for much more
easily ingested air pollution? I was told by one source in waste
management (no not Tony Soprano) that it isn’t the acid that is so
bad environmentally but all the heavy metals dissolved in it.

I have been using Frei and Borel’s Pre-Pro Pickle lately and find it
really excellent for gold. Better than Sparex.

Don Friedlich


#2

Don, adding baking soda to pickle does two things. It causes the
release of carbon dioxide gas. Same stuff we exhale with every
breath, and in these quantities, not toxic. Plants need it…

It also causes a bunch of foaming and bubbling to take place, as the
gas is evolved. that can be relatively rapid, and herein is the
danger, since it’s not hard to get a pickle pot to overflow with all
that foam. Plus, bursting foam bubbles can cause an aerosol of tiny
bits of the liquid itself to be projected up into the air, where it
will, of course, slowly settle out, or evaporate leaving dried
particulate matter. the amounts of this aerosol can be assumed to be
quite small. Dangers thereof are most likely minimal, especially
since the main dissolved metal you’ll find in the pickle will be
copper, and if you’re careless with your pickle, iron. Not heavier
metals, usually, than that, since then we’d be talking about silver or
gold, and neither forms soluable sulphates in the pickle. You might,
I guess, also get lead or cadmium compounds, if you’re pickling
metals with that in them, though I’m not a chemist, so I’m not sure
of that. In any case, frankly, I’d not consider the aerosol
potential as dangerous. But the spillage from overflowing foam
certainly could make a mess of the floor, and if the pickle is hot,
cause nasty burns if it’s spilling on you.

Overall, my feeling is that the main dangers of our pickle is the
acid fumes released by the normal hot working liquid (and of course
hot spills which can burn, as well as destroying clothing). It’s not
all that much, but in poorly ventilated areas, it certainly can cause
lung irritation, especially with chronic exposure, as we get when
this is our job day to day. Cold pickle doesn’t do that of course,
but it also doesn’t work as well. So if your ventilation is
questionable, simply keep a cover on your pickle pot. Keeps the
fumes under control nicely. If you can smell the stuff when you go
near it, address the problem. If you can’t, you probably don’t have
a problem.

As to disposal, there’s nothing created, chemically, that worse than
the pickle itself, but as has been pointed out, dissolved metal
(copper) is not destroyed. The main purpose of neutralizing the acid
would be to neutralize the corrosive potential of that acid, and in
many cases, this is not needed. If you’re dumping it down a septic
system (I’d probably not recommend that), then you’ll most likely
want to neutralize the acid. If you’re connected to a normal
municipal waste system, then I doubt it’s needed, since the
considerable dilution it would quickly get pretty much solves the
problem. Sodium bisulphate in trace amounts in the water does little
if any harm, and is quickly neutralized in the environment by
reacting with calcium carbonate (limestone). The copper, well that
depends on how much. If you’re an industrial user of pickle, you’ve
got a toxic material to deal with. If you’re a small jeweler, who
once a month has a couple cups of used pickle, which might contain a
few milligrams of copper sulphate, if that, then frankly, these tiny
amounts of copper aren’t significant to anything. Now, in a global
scale of things, all the pickle generated by all the jewelers in an
area might indeed be significant amounts of copper… but that’s
another issue. Remember that the main environmental effect of copper
is that algae doesn’t like it, and if there’s enough, some
invertebrate organisms also don’t like it. It’s main effect on fish
is to make them healthier, since if theres enough, it kills some of
the parasites. copper compounds are widely used as remedies for
various infections, especially fungal and parasitic, in aquarium
fish. when I do that, eventually I’ll have to do a water change (to
get rid of the color, mostly) and in doing that, I’ll be dumping more
copper into the waste water than my pickle pot ever does.

If it helps, I did contact my municipal hazardous waste department
once, to ask about this, after getting curious from another orchid
thread along this line. After getting past the various trained
monkeys who respond by rote, and finally reaching someone who
actually knew the subject, i was told pretty much what I just said
above. Dump the used pickle down the toilet and flush. Won’t cause
harm in non-industrial quantities.

Regarding pickle brands, I’m pretty fed up with Sparex. Not that it
doesn’t work. It works just fine. But apparently, the stuff they’re
packaging isn’t real pure. On mixing, it reacts in some manner to
generate a sort of waxy/greasy brownish scum. Not sure if this is a
reaction to stuff in the water, but I suspect it’s not. My feeling
is that it’s just impurities in the chemical which are very finely
divided, and which aren’t immediately visible other than by the
yellowish color of the mixed liquid. With time, the tiny suspended
particles combine and float, forming the visible scum. Messy and
nasty. And not, apparently, due to the sodium bisulphate itself,
since using lab grade chemical mixes to a colorless clear solution
with no scum. I’ve stopped using sparex. Now I use the version of
sodium bisulphate sold for lowering the ph in your hot tub (if you’re
lucky enough to have one. Can I come over?) Sold in the local
hardware stores, it ends up being cheaper than Sparex. And it’s
apparently pure enough to not cause that damn scum formation. If
the folks at Krohn technical products (the name on the Sparex can)
are reading this, take note. Your sparex product is junky
contaminated material sold for a too-high price. pay attention. It
might make me think twice about going to your product line for your
main items, such as your sometimes costly plating solutions…

Peter Rowe


#3

Peter, I called the folks at Sparex to ask about the brown scum.
(Vinnie @ Habson’s gave me the #.) Their guy told me that this was
perfectly normal and that the “amber” color was simply part of the
product. He wouldn’t be pinned down on the “amber scum” though…
Sparex is at least 50% cheaper than other brands, not including pH
adjuster, but it doesn’t seem worth it.

Time to switch pickles. Don, does your pickle depletion guild
nicely?

Andy Cooperman

Peter: by the way, copper sulphate is the panacea for most salt
water tropical fish maladies such as ich or oodinium, but is deadly
to invertebrates such as crabs, shrimp, etc. That’s why copper based
paints were applied to ship hulls: kills barnacles and ship worms.


#4

The gas released when you neutralize pickle (safety or sulfuric or
citric) is carbon dioxide. In itself unlikely to cause any problems
unless you do it in huge quantities and have no movement of air.
It’s possible then to get suffocated!

But …

The fizzing will propel small particles of the pickle itself
upwards, like the bubbles in a freshly poured coke do. These can be
nasty as they are still acidic.

Tony Konrath


#5

Hi Gang,

  He wouldn't be pinned down on the "amber scum" though... Sparex
is at least 50% cheaper than other brands, not including pH
adjuster, but it doesn't seem worth it.

I’d bet the brown ‘scum’ that one gets from Sparex is a result of
contamination from the can it’s shipped in. It could be from the
metal or the coating on the metal.

I haven’t had any problems with pickling or depletion gilding since
I switched to Ph Minus for swimming pools or spas several years ago.
It lasts about as long as Sparex. (I use a large crock pot.) Around
here it’s sold in grocery, drug & pool supply stores. A 7 lb jug is
about $7.00.

Dave


#6

I will let the used pickle concentrate by evaporation and then pour
into the used paper towels/ sweeps and etc in the “recycle” drum ,
the refiners have more advanced pollution control facilities than we
do and will recover any precious or other metallic waste. We have
recently installed a small reverse osmosis water filter [ from Rio ]
and have been using the de-ionized water every where in the shop.
the pickle stays transparent. the ultrasonic does for much longer,
and we figure its good for the steamer too. it even tastes better
than the tap water. regards, Mark Clodius


#7

Hey David, I did stick my head over the Magic pickle last summer and
managed to get a big whiff of it. I thought I was going to die. I
went and sat outside for over an hour. I still felt really dizzy.
I ended up calling poison control and finally went to the hospital.
I was so out of it I ran a red light and got lost going there.
Thank God I wasn’t hurt permanently. Well that’s debatable. Really
freaked me out though and cost me a fortune. I will NEVER use the
stuff again. I went back to sparex but I would definately be
interested in something much less toxic.

God Bless you
~Poppy~
www.jewelrybypoppy.com


#8

I bought 50lbs. of sodium bisulfate from a pool supply for less than
$50. That’s a lot cheaper than buying Sparex by the can. I don’t have
a problem or complaint about the scum in Sparex, but it is absent in
the stuff from the pool supply.

Cheap is good.

Bruce D. Holmgrain
JACMBJ
http://www.goldwerx.com


#9

I too have experienced that really gross scum in my pickle but seem
to have solved the problem (accidently). Apparently lacking the skill
to properly seal a crock pot - I went through one a year for a couple
of years - I recently switched to pyrex pot and a hot plate. The scum
developed again as usual, but I accidently turned up the hotplate too
far and briefly started to boil the pickle. Lo and behold, I have not
experienced the scum since. What ever was growing was killed by
boiling. Cheers from Toronto where we are still waiting to wear shorts.


#10
  Peter, I called the folks at Sparex to ask about the brown scum.
(Vinnie @ Habson's gave me the #.)  Their guy told me that this
was perfectly normal and that the "amber" color was simply part of
the product.  He wouldn't be pinned down on the "amber scum"
though... 

yeah right. My guess is they’re buying it as some sort of
industrial by product, rather than as any sort of pure chemical. As
it’s clearly not a pure grade. It’s likely normal that the scum is in
their product, but it’s not intrinsic to the actual needed chemical.
As I said, observation of the way it forms leads me to believe it’s
some sort of impurity very finely divided, which melts in the hot
pickle, and the otherwise invisibly small bits coalesce to form
larger droplets which then also float to the top and combine to the
visible scum. It takes a while for it to form, and forms 'best" in
hot water, not cold. And after you’ve removed the gunk, the remaining
pickle is then clear, not amber. If they’re being cagey about the
amber color or the scum, it’s clearly because they just don’t want to
either buy higher quality chemical, or admit publically that they’re
selling very impure junk.

   Sparex is at least 50% cheaper than other brands, not including
pH adjuster, but it doesn't seem worth it. 

That’s what’s nice about the “ph-down” type chemicals, which I get
just at Home Depot, over in the garden section. It’s not appreciably
more costly than sparex, and presumably because there’d be hell to
pay if spa and hot tub owners found it causing brown gunk in their
pools, it’s apparently pure enough that it doesn’t form that crap.
And, if you run out, Home Depot is oven longer hours than Habsons…

    That's why I Peter: by the way, copper sulphate is the panacea
for most salt water tropical fish maladies such as ich or oodinium,
but is deadly to invertebrates such as crabs, shrimp, etc. That's
why copper based paints were applied to ship hulls: kills barnacles
and ship worms. 

I think I said that, didn’t I? I use it now and then in my
freshwater tank (for milder fungal and bacterial infections, though,
I prefer “melafix”, based on australian tea tree oil. Seems to work
quite well, with fewer warnings and problems and hassles in use),
where of course, invertebrates aren’t an issue. And with salt water
tanks, it’s fine in fish only tanks. but not a reef tank, where
it’ll kill your anemonies, corals, oysters, and stuff…

Peter


#11
            Hey David, I did stick my head over the Magic pickle
last summer and managed to get a big whiff of it.  I thought I was
going to die. I . . . went back to sparex but I would definately
be interested in something much less toxic. God Bless you ~Poppy~ 

Hi Poppy; Yeah, the stuff is really nasty. So far, I think the
citric acid is going to work out. It’s not that cheap, but that’s
mainly because of the shipping from CA to MI. Somebody here
mentioned that I’m probably using food grade stuff and there might be
less expensive qualities out there, but I can live with the price
$14US for 5 lbs. You could always spring for just a couple pounds
and try it out.

David L. Huffman


#12

For those using PH Down in lieu of specialized products sold for
jewelry use…

What are the mixing directions? How do you know how strong to mix
it?

Thanks!
Karen Goeller
@Karen_Goeller


#13
 I'd  bet the brown 'scum' that one gets from Sparex is a result
of contamination from the can it's shipped in. 

My thought has always been that it was from the deterioration of the
plastic cup I’ve been using for several years for small parts in the
pickle. No scientific evidence to back it up… just an assumption.

Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#14

Hi Andy, The Pre-Pro Pickle from Frei and Borel does depletion guild
silver and gold beautifully. I have found it to be superior to any
other pickle I have used. Order a can and check it out. I’d be
curious if you think it is worth the price difference (and no, I
don’t know what that difference is).

It comes with white crystals, like Sparex, with a small vile of pink
liquid. You add the white to water and dissolve it then dump in the
pink stuff. It seems to work OK cold. Better than Sparex, it works
especially well hot.

Happy Pickling,
Don Friedlich


#15
      I'd  bet the brown 'scum' that one gets from Sparex is a
result of contamination from the can it's shipped in. 
    My thought has always been that it was from the deterioration
of the plastic cup I've been using 

I once heard what the scum from Sparex was, but have forgotten most.
It is not the can it comes in, and I doubt a platic cup. Think is a
result of unrefined acid, leaving the residue. I ran out of acid and
odered Magic Pickle…2 big jars of it! Tried it twice and got no
effect on metals from it, tried some H2O2 in it and that made it
worse. Went back to Rio Pro Pickle…boy what a
difference,especailly with the hydrogen peroxide. Just received my 5
gallon order from Rio(smile)! Thomas Blair


#16
    For those using PH Down in lieu of specialized products sold
for jewelry use.... What are the mixing directions?  How do you know
how strong to mix it? 

Karen - I am using pHdown and mixing at a concentration of 300g/l

Debby


#17
   My thought has always been that it was from the deterioration
of the plastic cup I've been using for several years for small
parts in the pickle. No scientific evidence to back it up... just
an assumption. 

Dave, I think we can rule out your plastic cup. We get that same
scum using sparex in a clean pyrex beaker, with no plastic cups.

Peter


#18
         For those using PH Down in lieu of specialized products
sold for jewelry use.... What are the mixing directions?  How do
you know how strong to mix it? 

Karen - The UT instructor I had also used PH Decrease for swimming
pools in lieu of Spare and he told us just to mix it to a saturated
solution. That’s what I’ve always done and it has worked
wonderfully . Though I heat my solution, it will also work well cold,
just takes a little longer.

Kay


#19

All. It is hard for me to believe that after several years of poking,
probing, harangueing, analyzing, discussing and letter writing we
are still stuck in the pickle pot ! Anyone who is still using
Sparex apparently can’t benefit from the facts that have been
copiously supplied time after time ad nauseum. Sparex is a lousy
excuse for pickle considering the fact that a much more pure version
of the same thing is readily and much more economically available
through the use of pH adjuster from any pool supply house. The scum
that comes with Sparex is the result of using sodium bi-sulphate
that is contaminated as a result of insufficient purification. It is
a dollars and sense kind of thing…there is a much greater
profit for the producer when a lower grade is used.( as if there
were an excuse for making an even bigger profit !!! ) I sometimes
wonder if Orchid is really an effective educational medium if so
many people disregard the facts presented. Ron at Mills Gem, Los
Osos, CA.


#20
Anyone who is still using Sparex apparently can't benefit from the
facts 

Excuse me, sir, but that’s quite an assumption. :frowning:

While aware of alternatives, its quite possible that people have an
existing stock of traditional chemicals that warrant depletion before
moving on to “better” choices.

Speaking of caustic…

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com