Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Ring coated in Mercury


#1

Hello all-

Wondering if anyone has any ideas on this one.

A customer brought in a ring that was exposed to mercury. Not sure if
it was a broken thermometer or what.The ring is a gold wedding
band. I have heard there may be a way to remove it with chemicals??

I dont want to touch the thing. I will not mechanically remove it-not
worth my health even though I know there are old timers out here
that will say “Oh just grind and sand it blah blah.” Sorry not gonna
do it. So has anyone heard of a company/service out there??

Brent


#2

Brent-

A sure-fire way to get mercury out of a gold amalgam is to heat it
with a small torch, like a butane or propane or similar portable
outfit. I have done this with placer gold recovered from California
diggings so contaminated with mercury that the flakes and nuggets
were gray! Just do it outdoors, because mercury vapor is extremely
toxic. And be sureto stay upwind. If you see signs of mercury after
it cools, you can always reheat. Luckily with a band you don’t have a
stone to worry about heating. You may have to touch up the polish a
bit.

I wish you all success!

Dick Davies


#3
Wondering if anyone has any ideas on this one. A customer brought
in a ring that was exposed to mercury. Not sure if it was a broken
thermometer or what.The ring is a gold wedding band. I have heard
there may be a way to remove it with chemicals?? 

G’day Brent; A good many years ago, my wife was responsible for the
running of the University Stage 1 labs, and managed to get her
wedding ring coated in the mercury which a student spilt. She knew
that Nitric acid would dissolve the mercury, but also that the
mercuric nitrate produced would probably coat the ring again. So we
took it to a fume hood and heated it black hot with a Bunsen burner,
then I re-polished it for her with a little rouge on a soft cloth.
This was before I started doing jewellery, so didn’t have a buff. But
she still wears that ring today - she is 87. Rouge? I used a little
finely ground ferric oxide. If you haven’t got a fume hood, then take
the ring and your torch outside and let the wind blow fumes away from
you. The torch can even be one of the type filled with butane. It is
plenty hot enough, but don’t get it so hot you melt the gold solder
join. Not a real problem.–

Cheers for now,
JohnB of NZ


#4

I have come across mercury affected rings many times (it’s usually a
fair bet the owners are nurses) and every time it has been easily
and quickly cleaned off with emery paper and then polished. I think
the concerns you have regarding the health risks cleaning it this way
are unfounded, but then it is your decision.

Oh, and being in my early 30’s, I’d prefer not to think of myself as
an “old timer”.

Cheers,
Dale


#5

I hate to say it, but I’m one of those old timers… The ring is
toast. HCl will dissolve mercury, and you could try that. It won’t
dissolve all the amalgam that was made, though. And what will be left
behind will be gold powder. The only way to get rid of it is
grinding, and aside from the health issues (which aren’t THAT large,
since it’s not mercury, it’s amalgam), by the time you get down to
the mother metal the ring will be gone. Actually the ring should be
safe to wear, though I wouldn’t do it myself. Most of us have
amalgams in our teeth, after all… Send it to the refiner, sell
her a new band…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#6

I’ve seen a few 14k yellow rings with mercury problems, usually in
shops with out a fume hood / mercury capture system… so I sent
them away. Usually a few weeks later the same ring was back without
mercury but in many pieces. The mercury had destroyed the structural
integrity of the gold, no way to repair other than a new ring.

The only bright side to mercury on rings was the look on her face
when I asked when she broke the thermometer. I’ve been accused of
magic, but this one seemingly psychic skill usually closed a new ring
sale.

Jeff
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#7

Hi Brent

I have encountered this problem many times. I just put the ring into
my burnout oven at 900-1000 F for an hour or so. The mercury will
boil off the surface of the ring. I use the oven because it is well
vented ( you can easily use a torch as well, but be sure to avoid the
fumes…very bad ). Lightly sand, polish, and your OK. I have even
sized an exposed ring I treated a couple of years down the road and
had no ill effects.

Good Luck
Dave


#8
(you can easily use a torch as well, but be sure to avoid the
fumes...very bad ) 

Don’t do it! Do not expose yourself to mercury vapor ever, in your
life. You would have to be insane to do this. Read:

Exposure to high levels of metallic, inorganic, or organic mercury
can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus.
Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, shyness,
tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems.

Short-term exposure to high levels of metallic mercury vapors may
cause effects including lung damage, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,
increases in blood pressure or heart rate, skin rashes, and eye
irritation.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#9

Please, think of this: If you are safely upwind, who is downwind?
Everybody else.

That little bit of solid poison that you were wary of has now become
gaseous poison that can reach out and touch people you have never
met.

Send that ring to a refiner who is experienced in dealing with
hazardous materials.

best regards,
Kelley Dragon