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Safe pickle?


#1

Hello All,

When I was studying at the Goldschmiedeschule in Germany, I was of
course “doing” everything in German. It was interesting to start, as
I didn’t know those words in German yet, but as we went along, I
learned the German ones, and they even learned some new English
ones. One of the ones they found the most amusing, was “pickle”. I
was unable to tell them why it was called that (I still don’t know),
but I soon found out where the “pickle” was in the classroom, and
that it was simply called, when translated into English, the “acid”.
Now, that makes sense, of course, but what I found very curious was
that it didn’t seem at all dangerous. They had it cooking away in a
large metal vat, no lid, and although it was recommended that you use
tongs to move things in & out of it, you could also stick your hand
in it. I think the tongs were more so you didn’t have to get your
hand all wet, and maybe because it was a bit warm. I asked about
this, and said that at home I’d have something that I dare not
breathe in, and I certainly wouldn’t put my hand into. He looked at
me like, “why are you using something like that?”, and I couldn’t
get an explanation as to what he was using that was so different than
what I was used to. The only name he had for it was the “acid”, that
was that. Maybe there was something more he could tell me, but I
couldn’t understand it, I don’t know. I’ve continued to be curious
about this, and recent discussions about pickling brought it back to
mind, so I thought I find out if anyone here knows about it. What
sort of “pickle” would be used that is so safe as that? Anyone else
who has studied there know what I’m speaking of? I’m assuming it’s
sort of a standard thing over there, since that’s where most of the
goldsmiths there start out, and there didn’t seem to be anything
else that he would know of using.

Thanks, to anyone who can help solve this mystery!

Lisa
Designs by Lisa Gallagher
www.lisagallagher.com


#2
One of the ones they found the most amusing, was "pickle". 

I guess so. The German word “Pickel” means (skin) spot.

What sort of "pickle" would be used that is so safe as that? Anyone
else who has studied there know what I'm speaking of? I'm assuming
it's sort of a standard thing over there, since that's where most
of the goldsmiths there start out, and there didn't seem to be
anything else that he would know of using. 

Over there… it’s not standard, but a simple safety measure in a
teaching environment. But the answer to your question is Vinegar
with a good quantity of salt or, more likely, an simple alaun
solution.

Viele Grusse,
Andreas


#3

Citric Acid Pickle and I think pickle may be explained byt he fact
that to pickle something is to put it in acid for preservation aka
vinegar.

I use citric acid everyday though I do use tongs because I like my
crock pot (covered crock) warm to pickle faster

E-mail me off list if you need a supplier name etc no affiliation
just like CHEAP sources lol

Teri
Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry
www.corneliusspick.com


#4

Hi Lisa,

I have been doing silver work for about three months now and my
bench is in the family lounge. Although my children are grown up
enough to be safe, I didn’t want to use a strong acid and so I use
something sold as “Safety Pickle”. It is aluminium sulphate which you
mix with hot water from the kettle. You can reuse it many times by
just heating it in a conventional microwave. It’s not an acid as most
pickles seem to be.

It’s quite embarrassing really as I have a first class degree in
chemistry but couldn’t tell you what the reactions are with regard
to its action on various fluxes and I can’t find anything in my
chemistry books. I’ve not used my chemistry for a number of years and
so the majority of my knowledge has gone by the wayside to a great
extent. I wish I could answer all the chemistry questions that
regularly appear on this forum but my brain’s suffering from old age
I think :slight_smile:

I’ll be interested to read all the replies about your safe pickle. It
could be the same as I’m using.

Helen Hill


#5
What sort of "pickle" would be used that is so safe as that? 

In the USA, I think that we call ir “Sparex”. Chemically, it is
called “sodium bisulfate”.


#6
The German word "Pickel" means (skin) spot. 

I used to live in Germany. A friend there, also American, spoke
German pretty well. He went around telling people about his upcoming
move, or so he thought. It turned out he was saying, “On March 1st,
I’ll be getting undressed.”

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#7
In the USA, I think that we call ir "Sparex". Chemically, it is
called "sodium bisulfate" 

I understand that this can be purchased at Lowe’s or Home Depot in
the pool department— how do I mix it? Obviously with water—but
what ratio: 10:1; a teaspoon to a gallon?

Thanks!
Patricia


#8

Lisa, I’m just recently putting my toe in the water again with
metalwork, and I always used Sparex in the past, but I’m all for
natural/safe whenever possible. I ran into a jeweler I knew from the
Michigan Silversmith’s Guild at an art fair recently, and she said
she uses citric acid as pickle. They put that in food as a natural
preservative (happened to catch Martha Stewart saying it was a
restaurant trick she uses to keep guacamole from turning brown), and
coincidentally I saw a giant jar of powdered citric acid at the
health food store just a few days later, so I bought it. I have yet
to try it out, though, since I’m still doing mainly cold connections,
and I have no idea what ratio to use. It should be safe - though I
wouldn’t go out of my way to inhale it, I imagine it could still be a
little irritating to the tissues.

Diane


#9

Another safe pickling method for silver is to make a solution of
sodium carbonate (washing soda) and place your silver on a piece of
aluminium foil in it. The foil works as a passive electrode and
cleans the silver.

Nick


#10

Thanks everyone for your replies. I’ll try to answer a few of them
in this one post.

Andreas- Regarding his amusement with the word “pickle”, he
understood that I meant the food item, Gurke, but I guess since that
word only means the food item, the verb “to pickle” is something else
(which I don’t know off the top of my head), he thought it was odd
that the acid is called that in English. That’s interesting that
vinegar with salt is an option.

Bruce- “Sparex” is the one that I use already, not what I’d consider
"safe pickle". By the way, I’m not saying that I am bothered by the
Sparex or consider it a major hazzard, just that I was reminded that
there must be another kind out there that is “safer”, and I was
wondering what it was.

Helen- from what source do you get the “aluminium sulphate”?

Lisa
Designs by Lisa Gallagher
www.lisagallagher.com


#11
I understand that this can be purchased at Lowe's or Home Depot in
the pool department--- how do I mix it? Obviously with water---but
what ratio: 10:1; a teaspoon to a gallon? 

I suppose that I’ll generally use 1/4 cup to a quart of water.

Bruce D. Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Benchjeweler


#12

A hot solution of alum, the stuff that makes pickles tart and
crunchy, also known as aluminum ammonium sulfate, works as well or
better than anything, and it’s pretty darn safe. The worst that
might happen is if you get it in your mouth it will make you pucker
like you ate a lemon. We get ours at the pharmacy for about 3
dollars, which lasts for a couple of months. We keep it in an
inexpensive ceramic gravy warmer that we keep plugged in, it has a
lid so the stuff doesn’t evaporate. About 3 heaping tablespoons to a
cup or so of hot water.

It is also recycleable, when it turns green with copper sulfate and
muddy from flux residue you can filter it and evaporate it simply by
removing the lid for a day or so until the alum has recrystallized.
Just pour off the remaining green fluid and save the clear crystals
of alum for reuse.

Just remember to never put anything steel into it like any other
pickle. Copper tongs are cool but bamboo chopsticks are cheap and
easy to get.


#13
Regarding his amusement with the word "pickle", he understood that
I meant the food item 

Ah, Lisa, that’s another thing. There is something called “Mixed
Pickles”, which is a brand name I believe. Mixed Pickles are a
potpourri of gherkin, small cobs of cobs, silver onions, red pepper
etc. in a vinegar jar. In English this is, I believe, called a “jar
of pickles”, I have no idea what Americans say.

But pickle does not mean Gurke. Your friend was just a victim of a
too heavy dose of advertisement.

Tschuss, Andreas


#14

Lisa:

When I was learning metalsmithing at Austin Community College, I was
taught to use PhDecreaser (for swimming pools) which you can purchase
at your local grocery store and is not expensive.

Then I was taught to make a saturated solution. Can be used hot or
cold - obviously cold takes longer. I use mine relatively hot in a
small (1 qt size) crock pot which works wonderfully. Very
inexpensive.

Now as to its chemical safety, I’m no chemist so can’t factually
address this issue. While I have not directly put my hands in it, I
have splashed some on myself with no apparent harm.

Chemists out there - can you comment on the safety of PhDecreaser?

Kay


#15

Hi Lisa,

I get my safety pickle from the dreaded four letter word beginning
with “e” and ending with “bay”. I use a seller who’s id is t-4-j but
I did a search with the words “safety pickle” and a few sellers came
up. I am in the UK so buy from the.co.uk auction site. I’ve just done
a search on the.com auction site and no results came up. Jeweller’
supply companies in the UK also stock it so maybe your jewelers’
supply houses will stock it. Of course there may be different
legislations on chemical supplies in the US so I don’t know whether
or not you’ll be able to get it.

Safe pickling.
Helen


#16

I am not a chemist also, but PH decreaser is a euphemism for acid.

Neutral PH is 7. Everything above is alkaline. Everything below is
acidic. The reason to decrease PH is that the more acidic, the less
oxygen water can hold, and therefore less bacteria. Al low level of
PH no life is possible.

Leonid Surpin


#17
Chemists out there - can you comment on the safety of PhDecreaser? 

I’m not a chemist, but it’s the same stuff as Sparex, only perhaps
even more pure. No more or less safe than Sparex.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#18

Kay,

What do you mean by a pHdecreaser? Is it some sort of buffer
solution?

Helen


#19

Kay – I would suspect that PhDecreaser, if it is for swimming
pools, is nothing other than sodium bisulfate. Which is supposedly
the same as Sparex. But much less expensive! Safety-wise it should be
about the same as Sparex.

Margaret


#20

Yes Leonid, everything you said is correct but the implication of the
post mentioning the pH decreaser was that it was something to make it
safer and obviously if you decrease the pH from 7 and make it more
acidic, it would make it more dangerous, corrosive, etc. Both ends of
the pH scale are very corrosive. I am a chemist but have never even
heard of nor used such a thing so I’m interested to find out what it
is

Helen