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Refining silver myths?


#1

i have read a number of times in many places a story that i can’t
verify - perhaps you can help to verify or debunk this.

being used as a metaphor for other things, people use the story as
it goes:

in the process of small scale silver refining, the silversmith puts
the pot of silver over the hotest part of the fire. He can’t take
his eye off it for a moment, because a moment too long can destroy
the silver (i would like that explained “destroyed”, as in what way
and to what degree, and what happens when silver is destroyed by
over heating?) the silversmith knows the silver is refined and pure,
the process done and done well, when he can see his reflection in
the silver.

second question: “silver purified seven times”- what could that
possibly mean?

If you can be of some enlightenment on this subject your help would
be most appreciated, and go a long ways beyond which you may
imagine.

thankyou for your consideration

Kelly
Surrey BC Canada


#2

If you overheat it then it will start to oxidise and eventually you
will get a thick layer of molten silver oxide on the surface. The
other thing that can happen is you can get partition of the alloy so
things like zinc will boil off and copper will come to the surface as
it is less dense. In terms of refining silver, there are several old
processes that are still used throughout the world on a small scale
to remove impurities and this can only be done by constant pot
watching and experience. How do you tell when your furnace is hot
enough? do you use a pyrometer or do you look at the radiant colour?
If you have no electricity and a charcoal furnace you only have one
choice. The refining 7 times is probably a fabled number but there
are 5 separate furnace processes to silver production.

Nick


#3
If you overheat it then it will start to oxidise and eventually you
will get a thick layer of molten silver oxide on the surface. 

Sorry, silver oxide does not form this way. And it decomposes back
to metallic silver and oxygen at 200C. Molten silver can hold 20
times its volume in oxygen but it does not form an oxide compound. As
the silver cools it releases the oxygen back to the atmosphere.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550