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Pickle and polishing clarification


#1

First, thanks to you all for your insights. This was my first posting
and it was somewhat like a game of telephone, where the message gets
modified as it goes down the line. :slight_smile:

So for clarification:

  1. I did’nt leave binding wire in my pickle. I put binding wire in
    with brass to plate it and hopefully remove some copper from the
    solution. I thought that the reaction stops when you remove the
    binding wire, so I took it and the brass out. Alas, my pickle is
    still blue with copper. So should I make a new batch? I can’t dump it
    down the drain as we live in an area with septic, no sewer. Will
    washing soda neutralize the pickle enough to dump it? Or should I
    take it to a hazardous waste disposal? What does hydrogen peroxide do
    to pickle exactly? It is Sparex #2.

  2. The stain on the silver was gray, not copper. It could be
    firescale, however I notice that it does not appear if I fish the item
    out as soon as the white coating appears. It seems to appear if I
    leave the item in too long. So that is why I thought there was
    something wrong with the pickle. (???)

I use Handy flux usually. In this particular case I coated the
earring with Handy flux and then also used a tiny bit of easy paste
solder to anchor the little 18k balls to the sterling. Is Handy flux
not OK?

And I also didn’t think it was firescale because there was actually
very little torch on the piece, just enough to make the paste solder
flow. And there was no gray on the gold, only the silver.

I am soooo confused (and ignorant)! Thanks in advance for your help!

Mary Barker, HPCU IT - MTS
@mary_barker
(650) or TN 857-7372
E-Fax 801-340-9408


#2

Hello Mary Barker,

If the pickle is blue, you need to change it. I’ll ask John Burgess,
the chemist resource to confirm, but I think the blue color is copper
sulfate in your pickle. That chemical can be a benefit your septic
system, as I’ll explain below.

So far as putting neutralized pickel into your septic system, it
should be OK if completely neutralized. Baking soda is cheap, you
probably have it in your kitchen cabinet, and it neutralizes the
acidic pickle. Add it slowly, let the bubbling diminish, and add
more soda until there is no more bubbling. The pickle is then
neutralized.

The environment of a septic tank is pretty corrosive and a quart or
so of neutralized Sparex would have no effect. If you have any trees
or shrubs growing near the underground absorption field (also called
drainfield or lateral field) copper sulfate (called “bluestone”) in
granular form is commonly added to the tank in early spring at the
rate of one to two pounds for each 500 gal. of tank capacity. It
discourages tree roots growing into and and plugging the small
openings in the underground distribution pipes. The very small
amount coming from your pickle would be nothing in comparison.

I think the gray color or stain on your silver sounds like fire
scale. If the flux did not completely cover the silver, then oxygen
would have had a chance to do it’s thing… voila’ fire scale.
Others are far more able than I to explain the process… my
speciality is sewage ;).

Good luck with it and find the thread bout Prip’s flux in the
archives. That stuff has made me a believer!

Judy in Kansas where my tomato plants are in the ground and seeds are
next!

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Extension Associate
221 Call Hall Kansas State Univerisity
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-1213 FAX (785) 532-5681
End of forwarded message


#3
   Alas, my pickle is still blue with copper.  So should I make a
new batch? I can't dump it down the drain as we live in an area
with septic, no sewer. Will washing soda neutralize the pickle
enough to dump it?  Or should I take it to a hazardous waste
disposal?  

What you could do in your particular situation is evaporate the
pickle , then scrape the blue crystals into a container … in this
manner, you may be able to accumulate a pound or so of used pickle
solids in about 2 years and then take it to the hazardous waste
disposal people . In this manner , you are using no other chemicals
and it will take quite a while to build up .Make sure to evaporate in
a safe manner .

Daniel Grandi
http://www.racecarjewelry.com visit the workshop on the website.
mold,modelmaking, casting for designers and jewelers in the trade


#4

Hello Mary,

If we talk about neutralizing a pickle,the pickle is not an acid nor
alkalic.In other words the solution is balanced out and has a PH of7.
Now,during the pickling proces you get little copper particles in
this solution.Copper is poisionous for human,but tomatos (especialy
red ones) just love copper.A known facts is that lots of tomato
imperfection are caused by a lack of copper and for this reason
people here in europe stick a copper nail in the base of a tomato
plant which will cure the plant.The silver problem in your pickle
could be solved by a reversed electroplating procedure,extracting the
silver out of your pickle.Now,in this case your pickle isn’t
hazardous for the invironment,but it’s always save to check with your
local water clearing company about the facts. Starting with a new bath
is what I would do for a nice and clean work on all of my next items.
Regards Pedro Palonso@t-online.de


#5

Mary if your pickle is blue it’s done, it’s good for copper plating,
that’s about it and even then. If you pour baking soda into the
pickle until it quits bubbling you’ve neutralized it enough to go
into your septic I’d just pour it out slowly with water running in
your sink and it will be fine. It sounds like your getting an oxide
from your flux which should polish off. Excess flux can do that, I’ve
found that if I quench my piece in just water before putting it into
the pickle I don’t have that problem or it’s kept to a minimum.

Hope this helps
Matt the Catt


#6
    If the pickle is blue, you need to change it.  I'll ask John
Burgess, the chemist resource to confirm, but I think the blue color
is copper sulfate in your pickle.  

G’day Modom; you rattled my cage? If the pickle is Sparex; the
chemical to change pH in pools; or plain 10% sulphuric acid, they are
all sulphates, and the blue colour is indeed copper sulphate. If
citric acid is used as the pickle, it will still slowly turn blue.
Again from the copper oxide removed from sterling or low carat gold. I
don’t think it necessary to change one’s pickle until the blue is
quite pronounced. Even then you would need a very sensitive chemical
balance to assay the copper in the solution. On the other hand the
pool variety of sodium bisulphate is so cheap that it really is
insignificant. Cheers. (back to gnawing my bone) –

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ


#7
   If we talk about neutralizing a pickle,the pickle is not an acid
nor alkalic.In other words the solution is balanced out and has a PH
of 7. 

Au Contraire! Not only is pickle acidic, it is VERY acidic. It is
sodium bisulfate and in solution has a pH of about 1 or 2. Acidity is,
in fact, why it works. Acid is what dissolves those pesky copper
oxides that plague us when we work in sterling or other copper
containing alloys. As far as neutralizing it before disposal, you can
safely flush it down your toilet (no septic tanks please). In the U.S.
there is a product called Sani-Flush which is used to clean toilet
bowls. Guess what it is? It’s our old friend sodium bisulfate, Sparex,
Pickle…one and the same. If you would feel better by neutralizing
it before disposal, add SLOWLY, with stirring, a solution of baking
soda. When it quits fizzing, the pickle is completely neutralized. Now
you can flush it and sleep well too. Regards …Bob Williams


#8

Palonso, I would beg to differ with you about the pickle not being
acid. Unless it is very different from what most of us use.
Margaret (the chemist)


#9

I’ve got one I’ve had a problem figuring out, my pickle is turning
into (yuck) slimy, like snot. I figure it’s got to be the water I’m
adding to the Sparex…anyone else got any ideas?..Char

Ms. Charolette’s Gold & Gem Specialties LLC

Rob & Charolette Purviance Jr.
115 N. 2nd Street
Guthrie, OK. 73044
(405)-260-0613 store
(405)-260-0638 office
(405)-260-0634 fax
@cameoblu


#10
   I've got one I've had a problem figuring out, my pickle is
turning into (yuck) slimy, like snot. I figure it's got to be the
water I'm adding to the Sparex.....anyone else got any
ideas?............ 

I can’t imagine ANYTHING in a municipal water supply that would react
with Sparex to give the results you describe. Slimy, snotty, viscous
solutions are frequently caused by growth of microorganisms in a
mixture. However, not many little beasties can survive at a pH of 1.0
(the pH of Sparex pickle) plus some dissolved copper sulfate. If I
were a betting man, I’d guess that you inadvertently used something
other than Sparex (sodium bisulfate) to make the pickle. Or perhaps
you got the pickle solution and a plain water quenching bath mixed up.
Has this phenomenon occurred more than once? If so, I would hold the
Sparex (or the Sparex wannabe) suspect. Make SURE that the material
you use is SODIUM BISULFATE. Check the spelling. Lots of chemicals
have names that sound similar but have greatly different properties.
Regards…Bob Williams


#11

Hello Char, I suggest checking with the city water treatment
operators. If this is a new problem, they may have changed how they
treat the water. Different coagulant or such. Should that explain
what’s happening, start using a jug of distilled water from the
store. That may be the simple solution anyway. Good luck, Judy in
Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Extension Associate
221 Call Hall Kansas State Univerisity
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-1213 FAX (785) 532-5681


#12

Hello Margaret,

It lookes like there’s something wrong here.What I say is that pickle
is an acid.As soon as you neutralize it meaning after adding the
washing soda to it, it’s not enymore.

Do you agree ?
Regards Pedro
Palonso@t-online.de


#13
   In the U.S. there is a product called Sani-Flush which is used to
clean toilet bowls. Guess what it is? It's our old friend sodium
bisulfate, Sparex, Pickle....one and the same. 

…So if I run out of Sparex in the middle of a job I can just
haul out the old can of Sani-Flush from under the sink and mix a
fresh batch in the pickle pot with no evil results? (or,conversely, if
I dump my pickle into the toilet bowl, will the bowl become sparkling
clean?)
Dee


#14

Yes, Pedro, I do agree that after an acid has been neutralized it is
no longer an acid. (It becomes a salt.) But that is not what you
said! You mentioned nothing about having neutralized it; you just made
a categorical statement that pickle was not an acid.

Margaret


#15

GlacierSlimey pickle. I had the same problem with a batch of Sparex
several years ago. It developed a dark brown thick slime that looked
like varnish. I figured it was the water as well so I got bottled
distilled water and mixed up a new batch. Within a day or so same
brown slime. I bought a new can of Sparex and went through mixing up
the pickle again. The same thing happened again. I had been using
Sparex ever since college and had never had that problem. I decided
the only thing it could be after mixing batches with tap water and
various bottled waters, was contamination from the factory in the
Sparex. I just pitched all the stuff and got Rio pickle from Rio
Grande. It comes in a box sealed in plastic, so you don’t have that
rusty can corrosion, and it works great.

I don’t like knocking products but I’ve had several different types
of problems with Sparex, from slime, to rust to dead brown pickle. I
just won’t buy the stuff anymore. I have had no problems with the
Rio pickle at all.

Barbara Gillis
@Chris


#16
   I can't imagine ANYTHING in a municipal water supply that would
react with Sparex to give the results you describe. Slimy, snotty,
viscous solutions are frequently caused by growth of microorganisms
in a mixture. However, not many little beasties can survive at a pH
of 1.0 (the pH of Sparex pickle) plus some dissolved copper sulfate. 

This is exactly what I thought. This morning I retrieved the can and
it reads Sparex No. 2 Granular Dry Acid Compound, contains Sodium
Bisulfate. Must be some pretty powerful organisms to be able to
survive the ph level…I’m going to try remixing with bottled
water today. If it’s any better, I don’t think I’ll be drinking the
tap water here anymore…Char


#17

I don’t know what it was but stuff can live in Sparex. I was working
out of a city arts center and one day after a long weekend we found
fully developed plumes of some life form in our pickle. We killed it
and made a new strong batch of pickle.

Pauline


#18

Dear Bob,

I am quite sure that Sparex is not pure sodium bisulphate. You will
observe that when opening a container of Sparex there are apparently
two colors of particles therein, one of them being a pale yellow. It
is this colored component that may be the source of the scum that
develops on the surface of a fresh batch of Sparex. It is probably a
substance that inhibits some undesireable trait inherent in pure
sodium bisulphate or, it could be something that relates to keeping
characteristics. Who knows and who cares…other than the fact that
it is a hell of a lot easier, cheaper and simpler to use the Ph
modifier sold in pool supply venues. Hakuna matata !
Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.


#19
I don't like knocking products but I've had several different types
of problems with Sparex, from slime, to rust to dead brown pickle.  I
just won't buy the stuff anymore.  I have had no problems with the
Rio pickle at all.  Barbara Gillis

G’day; try the pool pH adjuster - same stuff only a lot cheaper and
good quality too. Cheers, –

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ


#20

I have had the same problem with Sparex. Kept getting a brown oily
scum mixed in with it. I was told that it probably got contaminated
from the container it came in. I got a new batch of Sparex, put it
in a glass jar with a plastic lid so as to avoid any possible
contamination with any metal. In just a few weeks noticed the
Sparex in the glass jar was developing brown speckles , and my
fresh pickle was getting the same brown oily scum. Obviously the
problem was due to a problem in the factory. I am switching to
sodium bisulfate.

When I lived in California we had several Meyer lemon trees–
actually bushes as they were rather small. We always had such a
bumper crop, that one year I decided to try using pure lemon juice
as a pickle. It worked just great on silver… I also added some
salt as I was cleaning some copper prior to enameling, and the
results were fantastic. Any one else ever tried
this? --Alma, now living in gorgeous Oregon.