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Pickling stainless


I am new to the Orchid fourms, hopefully I am going about this the
right way.

While I am not a jeweler I do employ a lot of jewelry techniques. I
have been making some chandelier parts for a design that require
soldering an 1/8"round stainless rod into a 3/8" round stainless
rod. I have no problem soldering the pieces together with 56% silver
solder using handy flux or blackflux (boron modified). My problem is
that I cannot figure out how to pickle it off. I was hoping someone
on these forums would have a good solution. I tried vinegar and
vinegar with hydrogen peroxide but neither worked. I have not tried
my usual sulfuric thinking the iron in the stainless would cause
plating to occur. If these pieces could be soldered and pickled I
would be able to cut out all the time I spend sanding off the flux
and repolishing.

Thank you for any info,

Eric Cuper
Cuper Studios LLC

That sounds like a perfect job for a TIG welder. I also solder
regularly on stainless and I don’t have any problems getting the flux
off. Hot water takes both the black and white fluxes I’ve used off. I
usually just throw it in the pickle pot. I’ve never had it plate yet.

Try putting it in boiling water or your sonic. When I solder on
pieces with stones that cannot go in pickle, a hot water bath or just
a warm sonic work just fine. Takes a little time but not as long as
scraping the flux off. Using a steamer on the flux works as well.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

we use an ultrasonic with a detergent and ammonia to clean soldered
items of flux. I think hot water with the same should work.


You shouldn’t have to pickle stainless steel (- technically its
called passivating) Also you have to know which type of stainless it
is to know which acid is correct- that said most commercial
stainless cleaning companies are using citric acid based solutions
now. You can try washing the join with a wire brush and detergent
liquid to get rid of as much slag glass as you can, then rinse well-
and dry. Then take a dremel or flexshaft or grinder and blend the
seam to your satisfaction. If it has heat discoloration that’s harder
to treat. As for vinegar that you tried- other than using glacial
acetic acid (far stronger than vinegar) ordinary household vinegar is
too weak to do any good. Citric acid in a very high saturation
(water* : *acid ratio) may work for you if the stainless has a high
free iron content the drawback is stressed stainless of which you
don’t know the alloy may corrode when exposed to acid. Pickle doesn’t
work on stainless that’s why stainless is used for pickling tanks.

I learned a different method of pickling Stainless Steel. After
taking a toothbrush to it under hot water, we would take it into
another room to the sand blaster and briefly hit it with the sand.
BUT I’ve only done about 4 pieces in Stainless steel. It’s just
another method to consider if you have access. It may look matt
after, but it shines up quickly.

For what it is worth