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Rust contamination in fine silver?

hi all!

i have been attempting to raise a fine silver skin on a sterling
piece of mine that i would like to have that sort of pearly white
finish of matte fine silver. the studio i where i work i am noticing,
has a great deal of rust in the water. this hadn’t seemed like a major
concern, until i was working on this piece and noticed after pickling
and rinsing in said water the rust precipitating onto the piece as it
dried. i had had a fairly good fine silver surface it seemed, but now
when i heat the piece it turns a funky grey again and i’m seeing
ghosts where i had noticed the rust. we have mixed up a new pickle
with distilled water, any suggestions for getting rid of this? my
studio mate suggested oxidizing it again and quenching it in a pickle
containing both sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide, but seeing as
i’m home now i thought i’d ask here too… will polishing the piece
again likely do any good or does someone have a suggestion for how to
remove it chemically?

thanks! and check out my studio mate’s website at!

eve matelan

If your problem is really iron you can remove it with oxalic acid The
easiest way to find oxalic acid is to buy some “barkeepers friend or
bartenders friend” another one is Zud. These can usually be found at
a supermarket with the abrasive kitchen cleaners like Comet. If your
supermarket doesn’t have them a hardware store may. Just use it
with water- you won’t need to use an abrasive feature. It is used to
remove rust stains… Oxalic acid is somewhat toxic so don’t eat it.
It is also found in nature in Rhubarb leaves and Poke (for those from
the south). Then rinse well in DI or distilled water.

Good luck


you can etch the iron out using hydrochloric/ muriatic acid… And
then clean the piece and try re pickling in normal sparex/ sulfurous
acid type pickle, if you have an ultrasonic at your disposal it
wouldn’t hurt to run it thru…

Side note: if the iron gets back into the sparex type pickle it will
cause electro deposition of the dissolved copper… Aka copper
electroplate on the surface of the piece…

If you have access to nitric acid you can try a quick etch in there
it will also eat the iron off and the copper…

just my 2 cents,
Jon P