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Pickle / sterling silver discoloration


#1

This has happened a few times now, after leaving my pieces (sterling
silver) in pickle for a bit longer to get rid of oxidisation, the
pieces have turned a dull grey almost black! WHY?

It’s Griffith Pickle Safe and I thought it was a quite a good
alternative to pure citric acid. But this never happened with the
citric acid.

I’d welcome feedback. I don’t know how to clean the pieces now.
Should I pickle them again?

Thanks
Emma Tallack


#2

I have been having the same problem with leaving the sterling in the
pickle, possibly longer than necessary. Am using white vinegar and
salt as a pickle.

I’ve started to remove the grey discoloration with a radial bristle
disk, (400grit) I cover the whole surface for even texture, using
this as a pre-polish.

I’m finding too that I can take the 400 grit surface, apply liver of
silver, then with a little polish bring the surface to a depth of
color that I want, accent the high spots with a burnisher.

Mike Brenner


#3
I have been having the same problem with leaving the sterling in
the pickle, possibly longer than necessary. 

It’s a bad idea to leave silver in the pickle for very long.

Tim left a casting in the pickle for several days. When he pulled it
out it was like a sponge. He’ll never do that again. I’ve also found
that if I silver solder something and leave it in the pickle
overnight the seams don’t hold. They just pop apart. So I don’t leave
anything in the pickle longer than I have to.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#4

Is this grey discolouration a common problem with the vinegar/salt
pickle? I have just emptied my pickle pot of used-up sparex and was
about to try the vinegar thing, but if the discolouration is going
to be a pain, I think I’ll stick with the tried and tested Sparex. I
really don’t want to have to add an extra couple of cleaning steps to
my workload.

Does anyone else have this difficulty? How long is too long in the
vinegar pickle? Is it the salt, or the vinegar that’s the problem?
On rare occasions I have left things overnight in cold sparex and
they have been fine in the morning.

I once left a pair of silver studs in hydrogen peroxide (to
sterilize) for a few hours, and they turned an unremitting dull grey.
Still haven’t been able to polish them satisfactorily, though they’re
better than they were, and I’ve tried everything. Lesson learned -
use alcohol to sterilize ear fittings!

Janet in Alberta, Canada


#5

Hi all

I use 2 tablespoons of salt to one cup of white vinegar, hot never
had a problem. Cheap easy when it ‘slows down’ i add more salt. When
goes blue change with fresh solution. A bit slower than commercial
pickles but safe and easy. Poor used solution onto weeds.

all the best
Richard


#6

So my pickle is not vinegar/salt but “pickle safe”…and pieces came
out grey/dull even yellow on solder joints…400 grit and bristle
wheels did the job in the end but what a pain if you’ve already done
that stage! A friend has now also told me about swimming pool
solution. she uses it cold. any experiences with this?

I may go back to Gesswein Ciptic otherwise because I never had this
problem with that. pickle takes a bit longer though…

What else do people use?


#7

Vinegar/salt is great. Either in a crock pot, or just put the
solution (without any projects in it yet!!) in the microwave to warm
it up for use. Only avery few minutes are needed to clean your work.
I keep a separate pickle for copper & brass vs sterling. If by chance
you get copper plating on the silver, just mix some vinegar/salt
pickle & add a tiny bit of hydrogen peroxide. That will clean it
right up! Vinegar pickle smells, but isn’t nearly as bad as Sparex!!!

Julie


#8
I think I'll stick with the tried and tested Sparex. I really don't
want to have to add an extra couple of cleaning steps to my
workload. 

Consider, however, adding an extra step to your shopping workload.
Sparex pickle costs more than it needs to, for no apparent gain other
than the name. The active chemical is sodium bisulphate. But
apparently, Grobet(?) or Vigor or whomever is now making Sparex seems
to be getting something other than a clean pure chemical. Or maybe
they’ve got a problem with contamination. My guess is some leftover
residue from a prior use or a prior source for chemical purchased as
industrial surplus or someting. Yeah, I’m being harsh, and maybe not
correct.

But the simple fact is that for many years, if you filled a pickle
pot with sparex, in addition to the colorless pickle solution,
there’d be bits of floating brown gunk. It starts when you first mix
it as a slight color in the solution, but over time, congeals to
floating bits of some sort of brown waxy or greasy gunk which just
gets all over the pickle pot. Makes a mess. Does nothing useful. I
once called the company rep trying to find out what it was and
whether it was somehow intentional, since there’s nothing of the sort
listed on the MSDS.

The rep, a woman who probably didn’t know what I was talking about,
informed me that no doubt that stuff was my guarantee of a genuine
product. I’ve taken her at her word and not purchased Sparex again.
The reason for that is simply that at any decent hardware store or
Home Depot store, you can buy sodium bisulphate packaged for use
generally to lower the ph of pools, hot tubs, spas, etc. In this
form, often called “spa down"or"ph down” or something like that,
it’s almost pure sodium bisulphate with a couple percent of an
anti-caking agent, probably simple silica. This does the same thing
as Sparex, but is colorless and doesn’t get gunk all over everything
from that weird contamination. and it costs only about half as much
as the Sparex brand. If you insist on buying via the regular jewelry
suppliers, many of them carry their own or other brands of sodium
bisulphate pickle. Griffin chemicals packages one, Rio has one, Otto
Frei, I think, has one, and so on. These may not be as much cheaper
than Sparex (though I’ve not checked that) but they’ll avoid that
annoying brown crap, Just be aware that not only is Sparex more
expensive than other brands, but at least in my view, it’s a
significantly inferior product due to that annoying contaminant. (If
anyone can tell me for sure, that the stuff is there on purpose and
serves a useful function, please let me know. I’d love to find that
out)

Peter Rowe


#9

I gave up Sparex a number of years ago when I began having problems
with the brown gunk. I switched to PH down, which is available at any
hardware store, and is much less expensive than sparex. It works like
a charm. I got a huge container, which I have shared with friends,
and am still using the same lot that I purchased originally.

I keep two pickle pots (actually small slow cookers). One for copper
which I have deliberately contaminated so that when I dunk my copper
pieces in it, it coats any solder copper color.

The other is used for silver or gold. In order not to confuse them,
Igot them in two different colors–one is red (for copper item) and
the other is black.

Alma


#10
I use 2 tablespoons of salt to one cup of white vinegar, hot never
had a problem. Cheap easy when it 'slows down' i add more salt.
When goes blue change with fresh solution. A bit slower than
commercial pickles but safe and easy. Poor used solution onto
weeds. 

Wait a minute! If you can kill weeds with vinegar/aka acetic acid
and salt doesn’t that make it toxic?:slight_smile:

Jo Haemer


#11

My favorite pickle is sulphuric acid, and I’ve never had problems
with it, no matter how long I leave a piece in it. Just make sure you
have good ventilation, and follow prudent safely procedures.


#12

Another question on vinegar/salt pickle.

As an accent, I occasionally use Merlin’s Gold/Red Brass/Nu-gold
(whatever you want to call it) and use “super pickle” to clear off
the resultant coppery bloom after heating. Anyone know if adding
hydrogen peroxide to vinegar/salt works in the same way? I really must
bite the bullet and move over to real gold. gotta psych myself up for
that though!

Janet


#13
Wait a minute! If you can kill weeds with vinegar/aka acetic acid
and salt doesn't that make it toxic?:-) 

Not to mention the dissolved copper :slight_smile:

Al Balmer


#14
My favorite pickle is sulphuric acid, and I've never had problems
with it, no matter how long I leave a piece in it. Just make sure
you have good ventilation, and follow prudent safely procedures. 

You ask the question? isnt it toxic? of course it is!! so is any
weed killer like roundup or other plant hormone disturbances. I use
one to kill rushes that ruin my grass fields.

And my spent pickle is used and neutralised in/on a chalk stone
track I made sometime ago. We all use toxic elements and compounds,
so dont be afraid of that one, ie salt and vinegar. pretty harmless
in comparison to agent orange? Korea/Vietnam? Remember anyone?


#15
You ask the question? isnt it toxic? of course it is!! so is any
weed killer like roundup or other plant hormone disturbances. I
use one to kill rushes that ruin my grass fields. 

So you just add another one to the list and that makes it right?

And my spent pickle is used and neutralised in/on a chalk stone
track I made sometime ago. We all use toxic elements and
compounds, so dont be afraid of that one, ie salt and vinegar.
pretty harmless in comparison to agent orange? Korea/Vietnam?
Remember anyone? 

It’s not as toxic as agent orange, now this makes it right then?
No wonder that humanity has to go down.

No, it will not kill earth and neather it will kill us.

But let’s think big for a second.

Howmany gold- and silversmiths do we have on this blue planet?

You’re sending out the message to forget Round-up and use used
pickle instead.

I wonder why recycling centers are made for anyway.

I do remember the wars and orange agent was considered to be
safe… at that time.

It was known as a good thing for a good purpose.

Human kind was wrong (again!!) and we still do not learn from our
mistakes.

It always start small before it becomes big.

Why should we worry about it, there are plans to make Mars livable
so we can hop over, start on another planet and do it all over again.

That’s easy, we can do this, the sky is the limit.

Screw earth, screw the sky, screw human kind to, build a new human
race, the space is the limit.

For whatever it’s worth it.
Live -in all aspects- is to pretty to take it for granted.


#16
Wait a minute! If you can kill weeds with vinegar/aka acetic acid
and salt doesn't that make it toxic?:-) 

Oh No, I better stop eating pickles. They must be toxic since they
have been pickled for months in copious amounts of salt and vinegar!
:wink:

Milt Fischbein
Calgary Canada


#17

I ain’t never eatin’ good old British fish and chips again, with
lashings ofsalt and vinegar!


#18

Peter,

As always, your posts are informative! On the subject of Sparex, I am
using Sparex #1 for ferrous metals to clean mild steel and would love
to find something else to replace it. The package says it is sodium
bisulfate also, but when PH down is used it just doesn’t do the job
that Sparex #1 does on steel. #1 must contain something additional.
Any suggestions for other types of pickle besides muriatic acid or
nitric? Perhaps something more benign? I know sandblasting is another
method but more labor intensive.

TIA,
Susan Ronan
Coronado, CA


#19

Alma,

What is the ratio you use for the PH down? I’m assuming it is
watered down? I am eager to try this as well as the vinegar/salt
route. My pieces turned grey and a nasty yellow again - hmmmpppfffff

Emma Tallack


#20

I have cats so I didn’t want to use sparex in my apartment for the
little work I do there. I use hot vinegar without salt boiling away
on the stove (because I always walk away and forget to turn it off)
and have had no problem with discoloration and it works really fast.

Esta Jo Schifter
shiftingmetal.com