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Pink copper

Hello all, I’m fairly new to metalworking, and am having an issue. I
have a smith handiheet torch, a mini crockpot with sparex 2 pickle
and copper. When I solder or anneal the copper it turns pink after
being in the pickle. It’s kind of a pretty color, but not the look
i’m going for. It doesnt seem to sand off either. Does anyone out
there know what i’m doing?

Sorry, i meant to add that i mix my pickle with distilled water
since we are on a well here with iron water. I’ve also had some
issues with a scum on my pickle very much like a cooked pudding
skin. Is that normal? I am very new to torch work, and i learn
mostly from this site and Art Jewelry and Jewelry Artist mags.

When I solder or anneal the copper it turns pink after being in the
pickle. It's kind of a pretty color, but not the look i'm going
for. It doesnt seem to sand off either. Does anyone out there know
what i'm doing? 

You are cleaning the copper :slight_smile: Pure, chemically clean copper is
pink. Probably all you have to do is let it sit for a while to regain
the oxidized color we call “copper color.”

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY


The scum in your pickle is from using Sparex No. 2. There are many
better pickling products on the market like PH Down or similar from
your local pool/spa dealer and sold at some Wal-Mart’s and big box
home improvement stores in their pool and spa areas. Or buy any
pickle from a jewelry supplier other than Sparex. Excuse the
expression but Sparex sucks. If you already have some Sparex and
don’t want to throw it out you can warm it up. Place a couple layers
of paper towels on the liquid surface. Let it cool down and the scum
should be absorbed in the paper towels. You might have to repeat the
process a couple times.

Charles Lewton-Brain wrote up some good stuff about pickling:

I’m not sure I understand your issue with ‘pink copper’. The idea of
pickling is to remove flux and fire scale. (Note I said fire scale
not fire stain. They are two different things that has been already
discussed on this forum. Check the archives.) When you pickle
sterling silver it dissolves the copper on the surface of the silver
as well. Repeated heating and pickling will result in a surface of
pure silver on the sterling silver. I’m drawing a blank as to what
this process is called. I’m sure someone will chime in.

But the pink copper sounds like the normal reaction of the pickle on
copper. I know my copper picking tongs are pink on the ends from
being in the pickle…

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan

Hi. I hate that scum. Started getting it with Sparex as well, then
switched to the much cheaper pH minus, and love it. Same stuff you
would use in a hot tub, and its available at your local hardware or
Walmart. Linda

…from the beautiful Okanagan valley where we are having the most
amazing fall weather.

Dani, if you’re just working with copper, then when you heat it, it
oxidises. There are at least 2 different oxides - a black oxide
which flakes off, and a red oxide which is harder to remove. This is
different to the “contaminated pickle” answer which some people
might give you. I’m trying to remember how I get the red oxide off,
but I can’t actually remember! Still, I’ve got you halfway there.

Jamie Hall

Look in the archives for hydrogen peroxide pickle. I removes pink


Hi there, I’ve been meaning to write on the oxidation strip trick I
learned here ions ago…Yesterday,in, fact I made a new batch and
boiled away the black scrum that occured after soldering on a white
gold head to the shank. And this also included areas that I would
not be able to sand or polish away…This solution is made of good
strong pickle and so me hydrogen added to it. Mybe 60-40 mix and boil
with a lid on…Add the piece suspended in the solution, give it maybe
10 minutes & Voila!!!

Thanks again, Orchid & Hanuman…I’ll be making a donation very

Jo-Ann Maggiora donivan