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Re: Vinegar pickle [Jewelry Discussion] [Ganoksin Orchid Jewelry Forum Community for Jewelers and Metalsmiths]

In the US the stronger stuff is generally sold in home & garden centers as “cleaning vinegar”. Most is 30%, but you can get up to 75%.

Ron Charlotte

Gainesville, FL or

Hey Ron,
I looked again following your post and indeed, I found cleaning vinegar at 30% available mail order through the local Wally…I didn’t see any 75%, but prolly I didn’t look far enough. But you do have to check the label, as even some cleaning vinegar was just 6%. With the focus of this thread being pickle, and 10% and up vinegar concentration being described as corrosive to skin, I don’t see why one would look for something stronger than 6% from the grocery. The main advantages to the vinegar pickle were being mostly non-toxic, cheap and universally available. I admit I have not done a cost comparison between pH down (cheapest form of bisulfate pickle), citric acid and vinegar plus salt and then there’s the issue of how fast it works, whether you heat it or not, etc. Personally I have all the fixin’s for all of them, but haven’t tried a comparison and will probably go with the vinegar and salt for starters…easiest to mix and use, and at 6% acidity, no worries about gloves, copper plating, etc. Horses for courses, eh? -royjohn

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I have tried all of them and find PH down to be reasonably priced and a very good pickle solution. Affordable enough to use it for a few days, neutralize it, and start fresh. I have used cleaning vinegar and found it barely adequate for my needs. I have used 30% vinegar as well to not much greater benefit. My variables are I don’t use salt and I rarely use a heated pickle but quench in pickle with a fairly hot piece of work.

One thing I have learned is that everyone has a different process and it affects how some of what we do works. I know a local jewelry shop that uses Sparex 1 as a silver pickle. (I had always thought Sparex 1 was for ferrous metals only.) I have tried boosting pickle with Hydrogen Peroxide which works fairly well. But that is very short term.

Have you tried to consider how hot you run your work? I have tried to see if it makes a difference which torch I use. My Presto-lite torch as compared to my Little Torch. Little Torch stock tips as compared to Paige tips.

Thank heavens my business has all but disappeared, it gives me time to experiment.


I have used Alum as a pickle which i can buy from the pharmacy in small lots…has its benefits of which you can research. also going to the Mediterranean Food Mart where they sell food grade citric acid in large amounts (me-thinks 25 pound bags. just heading out there now. I know people in our club that didn’t like using Citric because it wasn’t as quick as Sparex 2 but it was more that they had bad habits quenching directly into sparex to clean quicker. Mostly they were stuck in a pattern and not able to change / adapt their ways, change is good . have fun with your pickle.

picked up Food grade -Citric Acid at the Mediterranean Food market…bought 5 pounds for $22.50 CDA. should last for quite some time. cheaper than purchasing at Jewellery Suppliers. Citric acid is used in lieu of lemon in foods…a pinch of citric acid