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Protecting stones with wet newspaper

So I am dropping the HOT topic of Firescoff for now but want to thank
everyone who emailed me. I had never heard of using wet newspaper
while soldering to protect stones. I went to Parsons and FIT years
ago, was a production manager of a factory on 47th street, and have
been in a few different studios where noone had ever used this
technique. So I am glad to have learned something new and yes,Roger,
when I try it I will make sure it is very wet! Wouldn’t want my own
Fire CO to have to respond to my studio fire as it would be slightly
embarrassing, LOL! So what other tricks do people use that some of us
might not know? What more do you all know about the health and safety
issues in a studio? I like that this forum may be used for educating
each other…

Beth McElhiney
on the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard

Just out of boredom, I finally took a look at this thread today. If I
need to protect a stone I either use a melting dish with wet "used"
investment in it (or sand is good) or I use wet tissue paper wrapped
around the stone if I need the angle or something. I will have to
agree with Mr. Rourke’s rant (sorry, but true), though. His example -
liver of sulfur - is quite toxic, and if you do some things with it
you can get hydrogen sulfide gas, which is way toxic. I simply do not
get why some people just need to spend money and have the latest
newfangled when the very best solution is right there. I weld
platinum shanks with the center buried in wet, used investment
frequently. I seem to remember long ago looking at the product in
question and it was something like $10/drop or something, and I just
laughed and spent the 10 bucks on a steak dinner or something.
THERE’S A REASON why goldsmiths have been using borax or fluoride
flux, acid pickle, and things like wet sand, and that’s because it
works. It works every time, without any tinkering or guesswork. Why
some feel this need to be guinea pigs for products that aren’t even
necessary to begin with I simply do not understand.

I simply do not get why some people just need to spend money and
have the latest newfangled when the very best solution is right

John, I believe this is a subset of the ‘pathetic fallacy’ called the
’jeweler’s fallacy’. It states that “there is a tool that one doesn’t
presently own that if purchased will accomplish the task with ease”.


What more do you all know about the health and safety issues in a
studio? I like that this forum may be used for educating each

I’d like to address a common theme that is here on Orchid, and that
is that somehow your typical jewelry work is chemically dangerous. If
you are soldering silver or gold, polishing it and cleaning it, then
you are safer than you are in your kitchen. The biggest danger in
your typical jewelry shop is from fire. A rundown: Boric acid is
rated as about as toxic as table salt, borax is considerably less.
Sodium fluoride, which I’m assuming is the fluoride in flux, is only
moderately toxic, and sparex will give you acidosis, but it’s not
very dangerous either, really. One time I threw a piece in a bucket
of sparex and a drop nailed me right in the eye. It burned about like
getting a good bit of soap in your eye. Denatured alcohol is bad to
drink, but you’ll just throw up, and when it burns it just makes
carbon dioxide and water. All of the above presupposes that you would
ingest any of those things to begin with. Dipping a piece in boric
acid and alcohol and then setting it on fire creates CO2, as do you
as you breathe. Putting a drop of fluoride flux on it and heating it
creates water vapor with the tiniest bit of chemical in it, and if
you ate that drop instead it would do you no great harm. Putting it
in pickle is harmless to you, that is unless you somehow want to
drink it. All polishing compounds are non-toxic, period. The word
toxic does NOT mean it’s not good for you, it means that it is
poisonous in some way. Polishing compounds are dust, and yes, it’s
bad to breathe dust, but that’s all. To a point your body’s defense
mechanism - mucous and coughing - will clear it out unless you overdo
it. I suspect that some schools or someone somewhere has gone
overboard with the chemical paranoia thing in the shop, and it’s just
unwarranted. The worst thing you’ll probably have is Attack, which is
a potent carcinogen, or if you get into etching or some other
specialty that involves more high-powered chemicals. The last job I
had before I opened my own place used HF to clean platinum and
engaged in bombing, which you either know of or you don’t (cyanide
stripping)., But they were a commercial, professional shop. The
bottle of vinegar you have in the cupboard is about as powerful as
pickle, or a little less. The ammonia and the chlorine bleach under
the sink are WAY more dangerous than anything at the jeweler’s bench,
and any pesticides or even fertilizers you have in your garage are
even beyond that. Don’t be paranoid - if you drink flux you’ll get
sick, but why would you want to do that?

Why some feel this need to be guinea pigs for products that aren't
even necessary to begin with I simply do not understand. 

Because once in a great while, the new thing is a huge improvement!


After reading this I have to correct some info that isn’t correct.
Boric acid is Toxic:

It was the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the summer time.
As it was a common eye wash medication twenty years ago when I was
selling pest control info sheets by mail in the back of magazines.
When mixed with water and keep in the refrigerator, unlabeled it was
mistaken for ice water having no taste or smell to speak of it was
the one of the leading causes of poisoning. This was according the
poison control hot line doctors. Here is A Material Data Safety
Sheets info on the boric acid.

Potential Health Effects


Causes irritation to the mucus membranes of the respiratory tract.
May be absorbed from the mucus membranes, and depending on the
amount of exposure could result in the development of nausea,
vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, rash, headache, fall in body
temperature, low blood pressure, renal injury, cyanosis, coma, and


Symptoms parallel absorption via inhalation. Adult fatal dose
reported at 5 to > 30 grams.

Skin Contact:

Causes skin irritation. Not significantly absorbed through the
intact skin. Readily absorbed through damaged or burned skin.
Symptoms of skin absorption parallel inhalation and ingestion.

Eye Contact:

Causes irritation, redness, and pain.

Chronic Exposure:

Prolonged absorption causes weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, skin
rash, convulsions and anemia. Liver and particularly the kidneys may
be susceptible. Studies of dogs and rats have shown that infertility
and damage to testes can result from acute or chronic ingestion of
boric acid. Evidence of toxic effects on the human reproductive
system is inadequate.

Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions:

Persons with pre-existing skin disorders or eye problems, or
impaired liver, kidney or respiratory function may be more
susceptible to the effects of the substance.

The most important part is the FATAL dosage for adults. Ingestion:

Adult fatal dose reported at 5 to > 30 grams. So the amount for pets
or children would be lower. Here is the complete MSDS from the web

Boric acid is safer than most items of a chemical nature used but it
does have a danger. The miss out there about this
product has been to some extent been brought about by good
intentions about its benefits as a pesticide compared to others.
Used both in side and outside the house.

Some of the mix up comes from people confusing Diatomaceous Earth
that is mixed with the boric acid and is the fossil skeletons of
Diatoms and kill the pest by puncturing the bodies of the pest and
drying the water out of them. hydro-scopic is the term to describe
it. Boric Acid is a natural substance that the insects don’t
recognize as a poison. Since there is always more of the
diatomaceous earth in the roach pruff’s mixes they just skip the
boric acid in the MSDS.

Again as long as you are aware you shouldn’t have any problems using

been there done that !

I am not a lawyer, and never played one on TV! All the usual and
standard disclaimers apply. Do not try this at home, use only as
directed, No warranties express or implied, for the intended use or
suggested uses, Wear safety glasses, closed course, professionals

After reading this I have to correct some info that isn't correct.
Boric acid is Toxic: 

Oral LD50 of table salt: 3000 mg/kg in rats

Boric Acid:

It is poisonous if taken internally or inhaled, although it is
generally not considered to be much more toxic than table salt
(based on its mammal LD50 rating of 2660mg/kg body mass).

Again, don’t engage in chemical paranoia. Since boric acid in the
shop is not to drink, don’t drink it, and you’ll be just fine. And
again, the chlorine bleach under your cabinet is 100 times more

Boric acid is safer than most items of a chemical nature used but
it does have a danger. 

A completely true statement - one of the nice things about science
is that there’s nothing to argue about - facts is facts. Every
substance we use has “a danger”. My point is that there’s no reason
to treat boric acid, or the other common bench chemicals, as though
they were toxic waste, because they’re just not.

I completely agree. this harkens back to my initial point that unless
you eat or drink the stuff x will be the consequence, but most of us
know NOT To!, And that the labelling has to say there are dangers to
rationalize the testing on animals by administering x in ridiculosly
large doses, so that teachers in art classes ( if there is still such
a thing in schools) don’t let little zoe or hunter eat the stuff
either. If you look at water, it is toxic in high enough doses…If
one is scared of the chemicals involved in metalwork, or jewelry
making it never ceases to amaze me and astound me that the individual
would rather complain about the horrid chemical, that simply quit the
business…jewelerymaking has become far less toxic that it was at one
time…to push it further begs the question why engage in it at all if
you are dissatisfied with the currently avaiable safety measures (
and are complying) and products that are as innocuous at this point
as they are perhaps ever going to be and still have decent results.
Chemistry and metallurgy are intimately linked and one can’'t exist
without the other. Plain, simple and inescapable…