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Safe pickle?

So glad to hear Krohn is spreading their ill will around, and not
just to me!- in a sense…They should not be spreading anything
except good product, that as you confirmed has changed -
dramatically- since the 1990’s…I recently found an old can ( rust on
the top typical of their pre-enamel lined cans, that still weren’t
the nitrile lined cans they SHOULD be using… anyway, it came out
clear, no residues, no clay, no “soap” - although they will not
divulge what soap it is…so I question that itis a soap at all,
probably just a foaming agent (sodium laureth sulphate) they had
extra of from another non jewelry related product ( as they
manufacture a lot of junk chemical compounds that are quite
environmentally UNSOUND…

As I have said before, as an industry Krohn needs to have a good
talking to…Perhaps, Andrea Hill would care to confront them on
their manufacturing quality control, and customer safety data

R. E. Rourke

Helen, What can you tell me about Aluminum Potassium sulfate ( AlK

also I have been eyeing my kodak GBX replenisher - for one ;it is
primarily Potassium Sulfite, and Sodium Sulfite, with a bit of
diethylene glycol and hydroquinone ( to keep the mosquitoes away!I
suppose) and thinking, that would work for a variety of uses. Also I
have some GBX Fixer that sounds to me like an ideal ultra pickle :
sodium bisulfite, ammonium thiosulfate, sodium acetone, and ammonium
sulfite-oh yeah, and water!..What is your professional opinion, if
you have one, on using these compounds…I’m tempted. I have cases of
the stuff and it’s sitting there with no darkroom- but plenty of
metal begging for a dip!

I posted the question last year and not one person responded…hoping
you will concur that it sounds like a reasonable heavy duty pickle
for non-ferrous metals.

R. E. Rourke

G’day; I hope to clarify some of the ‘mystery’ regarding pickle as
used by jewellers to remove fire stain and sulphide deposits. The
frequently used material seems to be Sparex, but I understand that
recent batches have an unwanted brown material when dissolved in
water, so an alternative is sought. Almost any chemical which
ionises in water is suitable. That is, it must have a hydrogen atom
able to dissociate from the chemical. I personally use 10% sulphuric
acid - but then I have a lifetime’s training in laboratory practice.
However, the original Sparex was sodium bisulphATE, that is, sodium
hydrogen sulph_ATE_, NaHSO4. This is often confused with sodium
bisulphITE which is also called sodium sodium hydrogen sulphITE.
NaHSO3 and sodium sulphITE Na2SO3 This is often used as a mild
bleach and a sterilizer, used by brewers, and I use it for
disinfecting kitchen cutting boards. Both may be used as a pickle,
but the sulphITE has a strong smell of sulphur dioxide - like burning
sulphur - so the bisulphATE is preferred. Other chemicals such as
citric acid; tartaric acid and alum (aluminium sulphATE) are
suitable. And even lemon juice at a pinch!

Sodium bisulphATE is also sold as ‘pH down’ for pools and is much

Cheers, Johnb


It seems sensible to follow the advice of those who have converted
to the swimming pool chemical "pH down" 

Unfortunately I live in Colorado where pools are not common. So
local home centers don’t carry pool chemicals. I have purchased from
a local pool service but found their inventory to be erratic. And
forget the hot tub stores. They mark their chemicals up so high and
carry only small amounts. Plus you have to deal with hot tub sales

The couple who own my local rock shop will be retiring soon so I
will need to find a regular source. I guess I’ll just have to bite
the bullet and pay for shipping and hazardous chemical surcharge and
buy it from my usual jewelry suppliers.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Hi John,

Yes you’re right, there seems to be a lot of confusion. I have
posted a few posts explaining what my research dug up, ie. that
sodium bisulphite (NaHSO3) converts to sodium bisulphate (NaHSO4) on
contact with air. I was also informed originally that "pH down"
bought for pools has sodium bisulphITE as the active ingredient but I
have since been informed that some of the pool chemical has sodium
bisulphATE as the active ingredient. Either way, whether you buy the
pool stuff with the sodium bisulphITE or with sodium bisulphATE as
its active ingredient, they work equally well and are vastly less
expensive then Sparex 2 with none of the associated problems.

For anyone unsure about it I have just found an article possibly
written by Orchid’s RERourke called Pickling Gold and Silver and is
a guide on that site who’s name starts with e and ends with bay!


Hi Rick

The couple who own my local rock shop will be retiring soon so I
will need to find a regular source. I guess I'll just have to bite
the bullet and pay for shipping and hazardous chemical surcharge
and buy it from my usual jewelry suppliers. 

I’m a bit late to this thread, but I’m wondering if you know about
Rio Pickle for non-ferrous metals from Rio Grande - there are no
hazardous shipping charges on that pickle - description from
catalogue says - quote - ‘safer than sulphuric acid mixtures,
contains sodium bisulfate’.

best wishes
Judy P

Hi Rick,

Yes, I understand that as I too live in an area without many outdoor
pools - the cold, rainy UK. But I intend to find someone who will
sell this and am confident that I will find it here in the UK. I’m
not too bothered about having it shipped as I will obviously pay
what is necessary but it is the supplier’s responsibility to ship it
safely and they must have regulations to adhere to with regard to
the safe shipping of hazardous chemicals.

The internet’s a wonderful invention and you can pretty much find
anything you want out there in the big wide world. I think if you buy
it in large enough quantities, even with the surcharge for shipping,
it will probably still be worthwhile and less expensive than Sparex
2. It is the same chemical and just because you are a jeweller
shouldn’t mean that you have to pay the huge prices that they charge
at jewellery supply houses.

By the way, I really like your silver and turquoise jewellery.

Preston, UK

Unfortunately I live in Colorado where pools are not common. So
local home centers don't carry pool chemicals. 

Have a Wal-Mart nearby? try their order online process They sell it
with their seasonal summer pools and usually year round with their
jacuzzi and spa products…may be in the garden center, and is kept
there in most home improvement stores (Lowe’s, Home Depot’s,
Costco, etc.)… another source is called,Not a
whopping inventory but some useful stuff, nitric acid, NaSo4, methyl
iodide, etc. they don’t consider it hazardous- I think at one time I
paid about 1.50 per lb from them…

The price of the 7 kg sodium bisulphate from Jewsons (UK) was seven
UK pounds - not 37 as in previous message.

Margaret O’Brien

Great discussion . But simply put, Is sodium bisulfATE safe to use as pickle indoors?

This is a very old thread and there is probably more recent information available. A lot of us use this for our pickle indoors. Look up the MSDS fo more information…Rob

Are there indoor swimming pools in the world? How about multi-pool complex? Sodium bisulfate is more commonly sold as swimming pool acid. It is what helps keep the ph in pools at the proper levels. I’m going out on a diving board here and saying yes it’s safe.