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[Source] Alum powder


#1

I broke a drill bit off inside a silver belt buckle. It needs to soak
in an alum/ water solution to dissolve the drill bit. I used to get
it at a pharmacy but no one carries it any more. Does anyone know of
a jewelry supply house or any store that carries alum? Orchid is
fabulous. I know someone out in Orchid land in knows the answer. :slight_smile:
Thanks for all your help.

Kathy


#2

Alum is available at grocery stores or hardware stores with canning
and pickling supplies (for making the eating kind of pickle g).

Carol


#3

Sparex or pH down that you probably use as pickle is an alum. This
will work fine to eat out the broken drill !!

jesse


#4
Does anyone know of a jewelry supply house or any store that
carries alum? 

Try a grocery, in the canning and pickling section.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ


#5

I got mine from a drug store. But its used for pickling (like
cucumbers). Or there’s always the interwebs:
http://tinyurl.com/alum-powder-search


#6
I broke a drill bit off inside a silver belt buckle. It needs to
soak in an alum/ water solution to dissolve the drill bit. I used
to get it at a pharmacy but no one carries it any more. Does anyone
know of a jewelry supply house or any store that carries alum?
Orchid is fabulous. I know someone out in Orchid land in knows the
answer. :)

Alum is used in making certain kinds of pickles (the kind you eat,
not the kind you soak jewelry in). You should be able to find alum in
the grocery store near the canning supplies.

Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry
www.featheredgems.com


#7

Hi Kathy,

Look in the spice aisle of the grocery store.You’ll probably find it
there.

Dave


#8

I once bought Alum powder in a grocery store in the spice section. I
think it is used in canning processes.

Hope this helps.
Peter B. Wolff
goldwolff.com


#9
Sparex or pH down that you probably use as pickle is an alum. This
will work fine to eat out the broken drill !! 

Not as well as alum.
And the metal will be discolored.
And alum is super-fast about it; Pickle will take a couple of days.


#10
Not as well as alum. And the metal will be discolored. And alum is
super-fast about it; Pickle will take a couple of days. 

I have not had any problems using fresh sparax or citric acid pickle
to dissolve drill bits, takes an hour or so no real issue with
discoloration. Used pickle would be problematic but the fresh stuff
works fine for me.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#11
Sparex or pH down that you probably use as pickle is an alum. This
will work fine to eat out the broken drill !! Not as well as alum.
And the metal will be discolored. And alum is super-fast about it;
Pickle will take a couple of days. 

You’re kidding, right? or you’ve not done it recently, or mix your
pickle way too dilute. In diamond setting in platinum, which tends to
grab tiny drill bits, it’s not uncommon for me to find I’ve broken a
bit when drilling little holes for setting little diamonds. Drop it
in the pickle pot, and the bit is gone in ten to fifteen minutes.
Now, this varies according to the size of the drill bit and the
length you’ve broken off. but it’s as fast, or faster, in my
experience, as boiling the work in Alum. And it means I don’t need to
keep a whole seperate material around for the drill bits removal. Our
pickle is warm to hot, in a crock pot set on low. Not boiling. That’s
quite enough to get drills out of platinum or gold quite quickly.
With alum, among other things, you’ve got to wait long enough for
that seldom used beaker to come to a boil again before it’s really
effective… The pickle pot is already hot.

But there’s a bit caveat. As you note, the metal can be discolored.
Can be, but not always will be. The trick is to change out your
pickle reasonably frequently. We work mostly in gold and platinum, so
the amount of copper oxide that ends up in the pickle isn’t as much
as one might get if working a lot in sterling silver. Pickling newly
cast items is probably the biggest source of the copper entering the
pickle pot for us. But we change the pickle about once a month, on
average. That keeps it clean enough that there’s little, if any,
copper plating. The little you do see is confined to the area right
near the drill hole, and easily removed. In silver, the problem might
be more acute, but then the solution is again, use clean pickle. Then
no discoloration or copper plating.

That’s not to say Alum is worse, or doesn’t work. It does, and well.
And it is gentler to things other than steel than pickle can be, if
you’ve got something that shouldn’t stay in the pickle for very long
for some reason. But for us, at least, we’ve not found alum to be any
better, or at least, not enough better to make it worth the minor
extra trouble of using it instead of the pickle.

Peter Rowe


#12

I must have missed the start of this thread Re: alum solution used
to dissolve broken drill bits from silver. Can someone enlighten me
as to the ratio of alum to water and the process to achieve this
(warm water & time required??).

Alum is also available from dye suppliers (it is used as a mordant)
& I think I’ve also purchased it from a chemist/pharmacy
(drugstore?) in the past.

Cheers,

Heather L (in rural Australia & happily using LPG / bottled propane
gas for cooking…but that’s another topic)


#13

Yes you can buy it from most drugstores. Warm water will enhance the
action and the more the alum the less time it will take to get the
drill bit out. Warning not to put too much in the bath as it might
affect the object.

Russ Hyder
The Jewelry CAD Institute
www.thejewelrycadinstitute.com


#14

I’ve never really paid attention to the percentage of alum to water,
but used a “heavy” hand when adding the alum. I buy mine from a
pharmacy and it works like a charm.

James