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Pickle problem

I have been making jewelry for only a short time since taking classes
in the last year or so and had a problem that I hope someone can
explain to me. I had sparex in a crockpot for pickle and had been
using it with no problem for about 4 months. It was in my garage (I
had no trouble in the cooler months). This summer I was not able to
work on jewelry and it was unheated in the garage. I noticed that
the acid had somehow gotted over and under? but not through the
ceramic glazed pot, some was below in the metal part, and some had
crept out? gotten through? and was on the work table.

What happened? and why? If I use a crock pot again will it happen
again when I’m not looking? My husband mentioned that he had also had
a glass jar with a lid on of muriatic acid in the same garage that
had crystalized over the lid and onto his shelves?

Is this the humidity of the garage? Temperature? How do I stop this
creeping acid?

Thanks so much for any ideas! Ceil

Dear Ceil: Did you seal up ALL the seams in your crockpot with an
exterior grade silicon caulk? if not the pickle might be migrating
through the seams …as for the glass jar try a plastic lild like
from a mayo jar and see if that doesn’t cure the problem…H.T.H.

If the pickle runs out of your crockpot, check it for an almost
invisible crack or for defects in the glaze. Anyhow, it’s not a good
idea to leave pickle hanging around if you aren’t using it. It can
become contaminated. When you’re finished using it, empty the
crockpot, wash it out and mix a fresh batch when you need to.
Sparex is so inexpensive that it doesn’t pay to save old pickle.

sparex or any crystal pickle will do that in a crock pot. I use
bulk acid from Thunderbird supply in Gallup NM much cheaper than
sparex works as good or better. I make jewelry every day I am not
doing shows and I wash out my pot after about 8 weeks the crystals
fall out of solution when the solution cools and goes back into
solution with heat. I change it out two or three months or more often
as needed. tbirds number is 1-800-545-7968. You do need a tax number
to buy from them or they will charge you tax. Walter Cooling

Dear Ceil, I don’t think you’re supposed to use a crock pot, but I’ve
found them to be no better or worse than the pickle pots. I buy the
smaller potpourri size crock pots for about $20 or less, and use them
for about a year and get a new one. It sounds like you may have had
too much acid in the water. I use about 1/4 cup (I think, I never
measure) of sparex for a crockpot of water. Go buy a new crockpot and
if you’re not going to use the pickle for an extended period of time
pour it out. It’s cheaper than a new pot! Hope this helps,
Wendy Newman

Everybody I know uses crock pots. You can get them for a few bucks at
a yard sale. Just be sure that it is not cracked (cracks can be hard
to see). it probably will crack eventually, in which case just get
another one.


Ceil: I remember a post sometime back not to use a certain COLOR of
crockpot for some reason, maybe this was it. Mine has blue ceramic
glaze and seems to be fine through all the abuse I’ve given it. Full
size crockpost are cheap at Kmart/Walmart etc. about $11 so no big

I’m a bit confused about the references I’ve seen to sealing crock
pots. All the ones I’ve seen here in the UK have a seamless ceramic
insert which holds the food/pickle. Am I missing something? I would
really rather not come home to find my work area flooded with sparex

I would suggest you use sodium bisulfate which is cheap from the
pool supply place and thow it away after neutralizing it rather than
keeping it in a more or less open container. Otherwise get a
polethylene jug with a plastic cap. keep the jug in a plastic dishpan
and store the acid in it between uses. See the archives, there has
been a lot of stuff on this. Jesse

Even the plastic lid may not work with the Hydrochloric acid (which
is a different situation altogether). Even in the bottle it came in,
with a special lid made especially for acids to keep it sealed
tightly, in my lab the HCl bottles all, after a time, became covered
with a whitish film that also covered the glass window in the cabinet
I kept it in. Fumes somehow escape despite all precautions. Something
you have to live with if you are going to keep HCl around. Margaret

Hello; Having lived by the Pacific Ocean for twenty years, we became
well acquainted with the results of salt fog. Altho this stuff
evaporated from the ocean, it carried enough salt with it to form
minute crystals on the windows, corrode aluminum windows, make power
line connections arc, and ruin doorbells. I’m no chemist, but I would
suspect that the solution in your pickle pot vaporized in the heat of
the garage, condensed on the lid, and then leaked down the side of the
container. Rose Alene McArthur @O_B_McArthurs

Re: Pickle pots…why all the fuss? I’ve been using crock and/or pot
pourri pots for many years…they are readily available at most swap
meets for just a few dollars and they are often new. Mine generally
last two or three years…a buck a year ! As for pickle, I use the
sodium bisulphate swimming pool ph modifier which is available at
Wal-mart for peanuts! The latter has the additional advantage of not
forming that noxious scum which goes with fresh batches of Sparex. In
any event, most of the dangerous chemicals which go with jewelry
making are quite cheap and don’t warrant the risks of casual storage.
NEVER be casual about the hazards of storing chemicals ! In addition
to the toxicity and corrosion hazards, concentrated hydrogen peroxide
has the capacity to induce spontaneous combustion in organic and
other materials ! Ours is a dangerous profession which warrants
continuous awareness and vigilance. Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA

Ron Mills,what a burden from my shoulders,I’m not kidding. For years
I thought that I was the only one who must be mixing his Sparex
wrong. I get livid everytime I mix a new batch and look at that
stupid scum, and try to use paper towels to “sop” it up from floating
in my crock pot. Thanks John

I’m a bit confused about the references I’ve seen to sealing crock
pots. All the ones I’ve seen here in the UK have a seamless ceramic
insert which holds the food/pickle>

You’re right. That’s all I have ever seen over here, too. But they do
sometimes eventually develop cracks. Usually fine ones. Margaret

I think thaat I have one of the best solutions to the problem of
acids slowley eating through the glaze on a crock pot. I fill a 600 ml
beaker with my pickle and place it in the crock pot which is then
filled with tap water. The water heats the pickle in the same manner
as a double Boiler, and I can now change types of pickle depending on
if I am working with Gold, Platinum or silver that Day.


I used to have problem with an oily film on my sparex. I switched to
using sparex from Gesswein and haven’t had a problem since.

Steven Brixner - Jewelry Designer - San Diego CA USA

I think the sealing refers to sealing the joint around the top of
the crock pot where it meets the metal body outside the unit. My
friend uses plain old all weather caulk out of a tube, but frankly I
don’t bother and have had no problems. Lots of “crusting” left from
evaporated liquid though. judymw

You're right. That's all I have ever seen over here, too. But they do
sometimes eventually develop cracks. Usually fine ones.

This is just referring to a practice of making or attempting to make
the thing last longer not the ceramic pot the electrical insides. you
take a new pot apart and caulk all the seams on the outside shell with
RTV silicone (bathtub caulk) Then put it back together sealing up the
rest. Does it help?

you would need to run a test with 2 pots one with and one without to
know… I caulked mine a few years ago.
It still even looks good. Jesse

Hi Judy et al, I thought I’d jump in here. I have a crock pot with
removeable ceramic. Every once in a while I remove the ceramic and
wash down the aluminum with some baking soda solution and rinse
well(unplugged of course!). I buy high heat muffler paint at the auto
parts store and paint the whole base unit with a couple of coats. This
will keep thing in good shape for a while. J.A.

I get the brown slime often when I make a new batch up. Easy
solution - add more water and the pickel is back to normal. Sometimes
it comes back - add more water . Soon as the pickle starts to get a
tinge of blue all seems to be ok in my experience. I think the slime
might be due to a too strong solution???