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Pickling - when to and when not to?

I am still fairly new to soldering, and the workshop I took had us
pickling after each solder join. I was just reading Charles
Lewton-Brain’s treatise on soldering in the Ganoksin library, and he
says that pickled surfaces don’t take solder well - which could be
why I’m having trouble with the piece I’m working on at the moment,
which has many solder joints. The initial ones flowed nicely; as I
progress I am having a lot of trouble thinking I have the solder
flowed correctly, then when I put it in the pickle the joint lets

So should I NOT be pickling after each solder? Do I just flux the
next joint, solder, flux, solder? Or do I flux, solder, rinse in
hot water, flux, solder, rinse in hot water? And then pickle at the

Thanks - any additional tips welcome!
Beth in SC


It is not necessary to pickle after every join…provided you have
prepared the pieces correctly, haven’t overheated the metal and the
joins continue to fit properly. Often after soldering - say a bezel
to a backplate - you may get a bit of warping that must be repaired
before continuing. In such a situation, I would completely clean the
piece and re-prepare the metal. Remember this though, if you are
working on a piece that has 6 or 8 or 10 joins on it and as each is
done there are areas that become unaccessable or less accessable to
you to perform smoothing and polishing, it is advisable to do the
clean up before adding the additional piece. As you gain experience
there should be less need to do this as your joins will become
cleaner and neat. But, if there is any possibility of ending up
with an area that you can’t get into, stop, clean and polish the area
and then continue.

There is no need to put the piece into hot water after completing a
join if you plan to do a second right away. The water can remove the
Prip’s and expose the metal to scale. Just add a bit more borax or
Battern’s (or what ever your are using for your soldering flux) and
do the next join.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2


John Cogswell (who I think is one of the best/smartest/most
generous/funniest teachers ever) told a workshop that I was in that
it isn’t necessary to pickle after every soldering job. One thing
to remember is to keep the whole piece well-fluxed, so unsoldered
areas stay “clean”. One reason to avoid too much pickling is that
the pickle can weaken, or even pit, already-soldered joints and
seams. About weaker joins after some pickling–silver picks up a
whitish film(?) which really has to be cleaned off (brass brushed)
before the area is soldered. I did have that issue for a long time
(I wondered why some soldering held, some didn’t)–but realizing
what was going on really helped. To say nothing of always having a
clean clean clean surface (I thought I could skirt this
sometimes–it “looked” clean–NOPE.)

Solder on!!