I was told by the instructor to pickle after every annealing. I
have also been given 2 opinions on the use of brass vs. copper
tongs in the pickle.
Hi Kim, I'm sure you will get a torrent of opinion on this one.
I tend not to pickle very often in a fold-forming, certainly not
when the fold has been annealed and is still folded up-I don't want
acid in the recesses which would splash out when forged again etc,
plus, as you say, it takes time. I've never seen a problem from doing
this. One might pickle, and brass brush with soapy water near the end
of a sequence. As well in a shop one works on several items at once
so you never have to stop moving unless you actually want to take a
Secondly, brass, copper tongs, makes little difference in my mind.
Copper might avoid an occasional and rare problem with zinc (from the
brass) initiating an electrolytic plating -(Have I ever seen this
from brass tweeezers-no). In England I've seen brass tweezers used at
the bench frequently for pickle.
Sometimes I see pickle pots in schools labeled gold and silver only
and copper and brass only. I always find this funny, as there is no
reason to segregate the metals like that in an art school situation.
In Germany, where I trained the pickle pots for gold and silver were
actually made of thick copper, we would take a dipperful of sulfuric
acid and water, hold it over a giant foot pedal operated bunsen
burner and bring it to a boil in moments. Iron, steel, zinc in the
pickle is another story but even there myths abound. The reason for
any copper plating that occurs is you have made a battery by having
two appropriately different metals such as iron and silver in the
(plating solution) pickle at the same time. When you take the
tweezers out the current stops and the pickle goes back to normal.