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Sparex disposal


#1

Cat,

The Chemistry Department here at the University told me (some
years ago) that a suitable means to dispose of Sparex would be to
neutralize it with baking soda. Their formula was to add baking
soda SLOWLY until the solution no longer reacts. I can only
offer this others will undoubtedly have different
suggestions.

Tim Glotzbach
Eastern Kentucky University


#2

Hello, Good suggestion, and that is still the way to dispose of
Sparex. I was teaching chemsitry lab just last year wile I was
finishing up my thesis, and that is exactly how we disposed of
waste acids. The only metal ions that should be in used Sparex to
any extent are copper, and as far as I know can go right down the
sink.

Cheers,
Elizabeth

Elizabeth C. Wilkinson
Los Alamos, NM

e-mail: wilkinso@chem.umn.edu


#3

I’d say use garden lime for the first neutralising assault on
the acid, then use bicarb soda to check whether the acid’s fully
neutralised.

Then I read Peter Rowe’s ideas about flushing small quantities
down the sewer and not being too worried about it. I am tending
that way myself, now. Re-read his post (‘silver soldering and
acids’) to get the word from the horse’s mouth.

Brian
B r i a n =A0 A d a m J e w e l l e r y E y e w e a r =A0
@Brian_Adam1 ph/fx +64 9 817 6816 NEW ZEALAND


#4

Then I read Peter Rowe’s ideas about flushing small quantities
down the sewer and not being too worried about it. I am tending
that way myself, now. Re-read his post (‘silver soldering and
acids’) to get the word from the horse’s mouth.

hello, but i am sorry, maybe i am not geting the ‘point’ here?
but is it really that much of a drag to spend the time and
neutralize the solution with soda, ashes, and some other base
before ‘dumping’ it out of site (and mind)? just to help along,
how’s that, this planet a bit?

emanuela

@emanuela_aureli

http://www.sirius.com/~ema


#5
  Then I read Peter Rowe's ideas about flushing small
quantities down the sewer and not being too worried about it. I
am tending that way myself, now. Re-read his post ('silver
soldering and acids') to get the word from the horse's mouth. 

Brian,

I’ve been called a horses Ass on a few occasions, but my mouth
is usually not compared to that animal. Teeth look larger on the
horse. Besides, with a birthday in March, I’m a pisces. That
makes me a fish, not a horse. Or, translate my name into French
(Pierre as in pierre precioux) and I either gain in sex appeal or
become a rock. (Your choice). Still not a horse.

Seriously, though, one reason why flushing small quantities of
acids (any normal acids, actually, once diluted to the point
where they won’t attack the plumbing etc.) is usually not a major
problem is that in the environment, limestone and similar basic
rocks, or iron containing minerals, etc, is almost universally
present, and simply reactes harmlessly with any overage of
acidic compounds. the process isn’t harming anything or doing
damage, so long as we’re not talking about large amounts.

Peter the rocky horse. or horsey rock. mouthing off yet again
of course…


#6

Emanuela, What makes you so sure that your “cure” isn’t worse
than the “illness”? Even pure water is slightly acidic. How do
you know when you have added just the “right” amount of alkaline
or mud or whatever else you might add to render worn out pickle
"harmless"?

Bruce D. Holmgrain
Maryland’s first JA Certified Senior Bench Jeweler
@Bruce_Holmgrain


703-593-4652


#7

A final thought from me on Sparex disposal…

I’m still in the bakingsoda (neutralization) camp, but I
seriously doubt that the pickle solution could be any worse for
the environment than Drano or Liquid Plumber. (These are U.S.
brand names for a “clog remover” solution for stopped drains.)
My bottle here says, "Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Hypochlorite,
Sodium Silicate and Surfacants. Contains no phosporus. Do not
use or mix DranoMax with ammonia, toilet bowl cleaners,
household cleaners or other drain cleaners, because mixture may
release hazardous gases or cause violent eruption from drain."
IMHO, much scarier than Sparex, although I wonder what the
chemists on list can tell us.

Kat


#8
  hello, but i am sorry, maybe i am not geting the 'point'
here? but is it really that much of a drag to spend the time
and neutralize the solution with soda, ashes, and some other
base before 'dumping' it out of site (and mind)? just to help
along, how's that, this planet a bit? 

My point wasn’t that it’s too much trouble, and you’re welcome
to do it if you wish. I am just of the opinion that it’s not
needed or particularly of any difference. The reason is that the
sewage effluent where you’re dumping the stuff is already full of
various ions and materials, basic, organic, and otherwise, which
will quickly react with the acidic compounds in the pickle to
neutralize it just fine. It’s been pointed out that pickle is
strong enough to chew up clothes. Yup. That’s true. And for
the same reasons, when it hits the sewage, it can help degrade
some of that organic material just as well, neutralizing both
itself in the process, and leaving a little less degredation for
the sewage plant to do. Seems to me that neutralizing it and
then dumping it has only the net effect of adding yet more mass,
the neutralizing stuff, to the sewage flow. The nature of
pollution is complex. These same sulphate ions, in air
pollution, become disastrous as acid rain (which can be
surprisingly strongly acidic. Clouds have been measured with ph
levels similar to vinager. The effect on vegitation of those
levels of acidity isn’t surprising) . But once back on the
ground in the municipal sewage lines (not in the mountain streams
and groundwater) they have little effect. Please remember that
I said it’s probably OK to just dump it with the provision that
your dumping into municipal sewage which will go to a treatment
plant. My reasoning is stated above. DON’T just dump this into
your septic tank or into rain water runoff drains or the like,
which will not guarantee neutralization.

Ans someone else noted that after I pointed out that there isn’t
much copper in the pickle, that checking the bottle on the copper
sulphate crystals it is found to kill fish, I also agree. But
the whole point is that your NOT adding a while bunch of copper
sulphate when you dump pickle that has turned very slightly blue.
If you dump that container of copper sulphate into your septic
tank, you’re not only gonna make a big difference to your septic
tank for the worse, but those downstream fish will be unhappy.
Pickle, however, has such a tiny amount of copper, despite what
you may imagine from what can plate out when your binding wire is
still on the piece, that the effect on the water supply is
virtually nil. It’s a matter of degree here. Yes, if everyone,
industry included, dumps this stuff, it makes a difference.
You’re little pint of used pickle every six months will not. Do
remember as well that copper, like sulphate ions, are normally
occuring in natural waters as well. Indeed, some small levels of
copper are required nutrients for us, and most other animals.
Again, pollution is a complex issue. Some metals in the
environment are completely harmless. Iron, for one. Worst it
can do is stain a few things, and it’s already a very, very
common material in the environment. Anywhere you see reddish
rocks you’re seeing iron, after all. Copper too, isn’t all that
rare, and is readily taken up by the system without harm, so long
as concentrations are not high. But you want to dump some really
heavy metals, like mercury compounds? or larger amounts of
copper? Or organo-phosphates, dioxins, pcbs, or steady hundred
gallons per day flows of used pickle compounds from your steel
mill, or anything else that substantially upsets the balances
the need to exist in natural systems, then of course you run into
trouble. I’m not advocating that people do anything harmful or
careless with the environment. On the contrary, I’m personally
quite actively a supporter of environmental concerns, and do as
much as I can in my own life to promote those interests and
practices of benefit to the environment. All I’m saying is
that putting lots of energy and effort into avoiding things which
do not actually have any real effect is a waste of precious
energy and time. If you REALLY wish to take steps to improve the
environment, then don’t worry so much about your pickle, and
instead work on recycling more of your trash, ride a bicycle or
the bus to work instead of driving your car, and support those
farmers who use organic farming methods instead of chemical
pesticides. THAT, even on a single person basis, DOES make a
difference. Be good for your health too.

Peter Rowe


#9
    Seems to me that neutralizing it and then dumping it has
only the net effect of adding yet more mass, the neutralizing
stuff, to the sewage flow. 

I’m really swinging toward’s Peter’s way of thinking now. Horse
or no horse.

    The nature of pollution is complex. 

Too true. (Is this from Shakespeare, Peter?)

    and support those farmers who use organic farming methods
instead of chemical 

Hear hear. Thanks for the dash of perspective.

Brian
B r i a n =A0 A d a m J e w e l l e r y E y e w e a r =A0
@Brian_Adam1 ph/fx +64 9 817 6816 NEW ZEALAND
http://www.adam.co.nz


#10
    support those farmers who use organic farming methods
instead of chemical pesticides.  THAT, even on a single person
basis, DOES make a difference.

…and man, can you taste the difference in the organic stuff!
It is truly more nutritious too (mineral content organic spinach
28.6%, inorganic 12.4%)

Thanks for the complete info on Sparex disposal. I am blushing
to say I have 12 years of it in jars, never knowing what to do
with it and how to get rid of it in an 'environmentally friendly’
way. You guys are such a wealth of knowledge I am proud to be
exposed to your thoughts.

tlee in a city where it could be snowing soon! Yehaaaa!


#11
   Emanuela, What makes you so sure that your "cure" isn't
worse than the "illness"? 

it has to do with the ‘concept’ of being just a tiny bit more
’aware’ of our doing what we do…take a little, give a
little…and it’s not me being ‘sure’, it’s just that’s what’s
been done in the past and some of it it’s still useful. actually
i think even more so now!

   How do you know when you have added just the "right" amount
of alkaline or mud or whatever else you might add to render
worn out pickle "harmless"? 

when the solution stops bubbling and it’s clear. i let it stand
couple of hours at least before ‘dumping’ it…

thanks,
emanuela
@emanuela_aureli
http://www.sirius.com/~ema


#12

G’day Kat; Sodium hydroxide is caustic soda - excellent for
dissolving clumps of fat, especially when hot. Sodium
hypochlorite is common bleach, and the other items are pretty
innocuous. There will also be carbonates present and it is
these which fizz with carbon dioxide gas on the addition of
acids. It is (just) possible that chlorine gas could be evolved
from the hypochlorite and acids, but not enough to worry about
unduly. After a while clumps of unpleasant and dirty-looking
gel forms in badly maintained drain pipes. Since these clumps of
mucous are almost entirely made of bacteria, you can understand
what the bleach is for - a very powerful disinfectant. Since most
toilet bowl cleaners contain - or are entirely - sodium
bisulphate, (sodium acid sulphate NaHSO4) you can also see why
they tell you not to mix them with Drano. Cheers,

       / \
     /  /
   /  /                                
 /  /__| \      @John_Burgess2
(______ )       

At sunny Nelson NZ


#13

Hi Kat, My feeling about Drano is that the sodium hyochlorite
(bleach) is probably the worst thing environmentally. People use
it all the time, though. People in the chemical industry are
trying to use hydrogen peroxide or better yet, oxygen to perform
bleaching so that all that chlorine-containing waste can be
eliminated. Bleach will react with ammonia to make chlorine gas,
so that’s what that warning is about. My feelings about sodium
hydroxide are that, while it is corrosive, it will react with any
acid, and be neutralized to water and some sodium salt. SInce so
much more acid than base is released into the environment, my
hope is that the hydroxide doesn’t hang around long enough to do
any damage. Sparex, if neutralized with baking sodium, gives
sodium sulphate, water and carbon dioxide. All fairly innocuous.
Propbably the worst thing in the brew is copper salts, and the
ammount in a batch of used Sparex should be pretty small. All in
all, the ammount of waste one jeweler produces is far exceeded by
the mess that is produced by mining the metals and gems to
supply that jeweler. Just my chemist’s $0.02. Elizabeth


#14

Too true. (Is this from Shakespeare, Peter?)

Maybe the shakespeare known as a manufacturer of fishing
tackle…They’re concerned with fish and waterways, and the like
to sell their stuff…

I rather expect that “the Bard”, if using the word pollution,
probably had rather different meanings in mind… Care to
speculate?

Peter


#15
   hello, but i am sorry, maybe i am not geting the 'point'
here? but is it really that much of a drag to spend the time
and neutralize the solution with soda, ashes, and some other
base before 'dumping' it out of site (and mind)? just to help
along, how's that, this planet a bit? 

I second that. Solid waste is really the way to go –
neutralize the stuff, then bag it and throw it in the trash.
That way it can go to a landfill and never biodegrade due to lack
of sunlight. If you throw it down the drain it ends up in our
drinking water
. Of course, the treatment plant will filter it,
but that’s the whole point, why give them more to filter? Why
do we pour Sparex down the drain, and then complain about having
to buy bottled water because tap water tastes so “funny”?

As jewelers, we use gems and metals the mineing of which does
horrible environmental damage and exploits 3rd world
people…we make our money from the destruction of the planet and
exploitation of impoverished people abroad, and on a system that
pays immigrant bench jewelers and native new bench jewelers a
non-living wage.

I’d say the least we can do is dispose of our wastes properly,
and not befouling the water systems.

-Elaine
Chicago, Il, US
Midwest


#16
    Too true. (Is this from Shakespeare, Peter?) I rather
expect that "the Bard", if using the word pollution, probably
had rather different meanings in mind...  Care to speculate? 

oh that this too too solid speck o’ sparex=8D
would soak, wither, and resolve itself unto a dew

but lo, who goeth there, unhand her knave!
or taste thee thee the blade … doh!

Brian


#17

The argument that pickle isn’t any more harmful than any of the
other products which are commercially available - drano, toilet
bowl cleaner, bleach - just doesn’t fly. I think it is commonly
recognized by many, if not most folks who are somewhat
environmentally-conscious, that putting these kinds of things
down our drains isn’t a great thing to do either. There are now
many alternative commercial products available which are safer,
and commonly available.

Today I posed the disposal question to a very highly respected
person in the national metal arts community who lives in my area.
She puts used pickle down the drain ONLY after neutralizing with
baking soda (until it stops fizzing), and after removing the
copper ions. To do this, she puts one or more large steel nails
in the pickle, and after awhile all the copper will plate out
onto the steel.

What to do with acid+metal waste is an industry problem. These
are extremely simple, inexpensive steps to take. How difficult
can it be for a person to take them and be part of a solution?


#18

Why not just add some bicarbonate of soda to nuetralize? My
fabrication teacher had us boil in soda water items that had been
soldered together in such a fashion that the pickle would not
always rinse out in water. The soda would neutalize the pickle
in that case and good old Arm and Hammer isn’t THAT expensive and
isolves in liquid. I would wear a mask while doing this however
as it does put off fumes.

Stella


#19

I have enjoyed all the thoughts on pickle disposal as this is
one of my concern areas in trying to keep our shop and our waste
clean. My major concern is the copper sulfate in the solution. I
have tried using a plating rectifier, a copper sleave inside the
crock-pot as a cathod, and a stainless bolt as an anode. with a
charge running through the pickle you can remove a lot of the
offending copper, then neutralize as usual and dilute while
draining. J.A.


#20

John - Your post made me think about this a little differently.
Isn’t what you’re doing (that is, taking the copper out of the
solution) eliminating the need to get rid of the Sparex? Or do
I not understand the chemical reaction that is taking place when
we pickle things in the solution to start with?

It has always been my understanding that the growing presence of
a large amount of copper ions (?) in the solution is what causes
pickle to be spent. Okay all you chemists out there - enlighten
me, please !! (It’s been far too many years since high school
chemistry - I’m still waiting for my daughter to have to take it
so I can relearn it !)

        Laura
        Towson, MD
        @LWiesler