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Silver soldering help needed

(Hi, this is my second try at posting this one…)

Hello all,

I’m teaching myself how to solder silver… so far, it’s been an
adventure :-). I seem to have been getting a bit of success so far,
but one problem I’ve encountered is that my pieces are coming out of
the pickle solution and are a bit whitish.

It doesn’t seem to be firescale, so I’m wondering if this is glaze
from the flux? If so, would this indicate that I’m using too much
flux? I’m a bit paranoid of fire scale so I coat it on pretty thick.

Any tips on how I should remove this stuff? The pickle doesn’t seem
to get it off, but then again, maybe I’m not pickling for long enough.
Any recommendations on how long to pickle? I didn’t see a length of
time mentioned in any of the books I read.

Thanks in advance for your help!

  • darcy

Hi Darcy if your talking about what I think you are the whitish
coating you are referring to is probably the microscopic layer of pure
silver that is pulled to the surface during the soldering process

Darcy, The whitish color is simply the real color of unpolished
silver. It just means that you’ve done a good job and that the silver
and the pickle is clean. Jerry in Kodiak Alaska, where the temperature
today is 40 degrees F.

The white film is normal after pickling----you can remove it by
brushing briskly with a brass brush and detergent. This will bring
the shine back to your sterling… Alma

Darcy, there is nothing wrong with the way the silver is coming out
of the pickle. You haven’t harmed it by soldering. The white color is
a layer of pure silver caused by the removal of the copper in the
alloy of sterling. If you would brass brush the piece with detergent
and water, you will discover the silver color that you are more
familiar with. This layer is often refered to as fine silver .

Marilyn Smith

Hi Darcy, Sorry if you got missed the first time around! The white
color on the surface of the silver is fine silver, that if you find
undesirable, you can remove by light abrasion. When the metal is
pickled after heating, the copper alloy is removed leaving a thin
layer of fine silver. Some find this a desirable finish! It is also
a trick that can be used to cover firescale by a process of repeated
heating and pickling. I hope that this helps you!
Susan Ronan.

Hello Darcy,

I’m an amateur, but it is my understanding that the white surface
left after pickling is just a layer of fine silver left after the
pickle has removed the copper from the surface of sterling silver. It
should buff up nicely or come up nicely with a brass brush.

I leave the silver in the pickle long enough for the surface to go
white and to remove the flux from the surface.

If I’m wrong, I’m sure someone will correct me.

Rosslyn, South Australia.


Darcy Brockbank wrote: “I’m teaching myself how to solder silver…
one problem I’ve encountered is that my pieces are coming out of the
pickle solution and are a bit whitish.”

That whitish stuff is a layer of pure silver. Some of the pros use
that layer as the final finish (after repeatedly pickling so the pure
silver layer builds up). That way they don’t have to worry about

Keep up the good work.

The Purple Wizard (wait a month then check out

Dear Darcy, What you are describing is what the pickle is suppose to
do. It is an acid of sorts that ecthes slightly into the silver
removing flux, etc. from the metal. What you need to do now is polish
the metal either thru polishing compounds or tumbling whatever and
the white will go away. Personally I find the white to be kind of
neat if I have an unusual piece and I simply wire brush it with soap
and water and get a neat satin finish. Keep up the good work, so far
you aren’t doing anything wrong!, Suzanne in
Florida where we are still counting!

Hi Darcy,

Don’t remove (or try to remove) the white stuff, that’s the best
part! The white stuff is pure (or almost) silver.

When something made of a silver alloy is placed in pickle, the pickle
dissolves some of the alloying metal, copper in the case of sterling,
and leaves the silver behind. The silver has a different look, white.
I’m not a metallurgist, but I’d suspect the surface of a piece just
removed from the pickle pot looks a little porous (microscopically
speaking). This different type surface, in addition to the difference
in metal account for the ‘white’ look of the piece.



Don’t worry! :slight_smile: The whitish thing is perfectly normal. That’s a
layer of fine silver that has risen to the top. It’s supposed to be
there. Use a brass brush to “shine” it back up again to the normal
sterling look and carry on with your piece. Have you considered
taking a class to learn soldering? There are some tricks to it &
although the adventure of self-learning may be fun, you want to be
sure to learn it the right way. And also minimize the worry time over
something that’s actually supposed to happen. Just a thought. I know
I learn most things on my own, and prefer it that way, but jewelry
making is something that can be pretty darn frustrating, and even
expensive, if you don’t yet know the basics.

Have fun learning!

Designs by Lisa Gallagher

What you’re seeing is perfectly normal. That whiteish surface is
in fact pure silver. What happens is that in many cases, the
copper will burn out of the silver right at the surface, leaving
a layer of fine silver. I’m not sure how thick it is, but I would
suspect is could be measured in millionths of an inch, perhaps
even angstroms. Nevertheless, it is easily polished away.

I've actually used this as a finish on a few pieces.  Unfortunately,
while I find it very pretty in some cases, it is very fragile and
not practical as a means of finishing silver work.
Any tips on how I should remove this stuff? The pickle doesn't seem
to get it off, but then again, maybe I'm not pickling for long enough.
Any recommendations on how long to pickle? I didn't see a length of
time mentioned in any of the books I read.
Pickle until firescale and flux are gone.  It takes whatever time it
takes.  Warm or hot pickle helps this along quite a bit.

Have fun.

Darcy - The white coat is harmless and just the indication of
unpolished silver. Think of it as the difference of how light is
reflected from a piece of white paper and a piece of aluminum foil.
They both reflect all of the spectrum, just in a different way. After
soldering several times your piece will have a thin layer of fine
(pure) silver on the surface. This can be good and bad. The good
part is that it hides a dark layer of fire scale just below the
surface of the metal. The bad part is that it is unstable and can
actually pop off if you put a lot of stress on it. When adding
earring posts, pin findings, belt buckle pegs, etc. on a piece that
has been soldered several times you need to file or grind through the
layer of fine silver to get a stable bond between the pieces. Steve.

Steven Brixner - Jewelry Designer - San Diego CA USA

Hello darcy,

The white layer on your object is pure silver. The pickle has solved
the silver oxides and the cupper oxides. After this there is only the
silver/cupper alloy left (your object). And the next material which
will solve is the cupper and a thin layer of silver is left. If you
polish your object it will be looking nice.

Martin Niemeijer