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Strange coating from pickle

I accidentally left a fine silver pendant in my pickle pot
overnight. It was in the pickle because it has a sterling bail that
got some fire scale on it. The pickle wasn’t hot all night, I didn’t
have the pot on, I just forgot to pull that piece out. Now the silver
has this strange whitish coating on it that almost feels like a glaze
or lacquer. I’ve tried washing it off, hitting it with a wire brush,
and tumbling it, but nothing seems to affect it. I’ll try refiring it
next, but that will mean repickling the bail again. (obviously I
won’t leave it in as long this time)

Any thoughts on what this is or how to get it off short of hitting
it with the torch again?

Pam East

My silver always turns white when I pickle it…but I throw it in the
pickle while it’s still hot…it usually just polishes away. the
only other thought is did you use a lot of flux? maybe it’s a
coating of borax? That would be like a glaze.


This particular piece didn’t have any flux on it, but tons of other
stuff I’ve tossed in that pot have, so maybe the flux is in the
pickle itself. The result did look like a glaze. It was certainly as
resistant to scrubbing and wire brushing as a glaze would be!

Anyway, I re-fired the piece which burned off the coating. It looks
fine now. It was just a curious result.

Pam East

That white is a layer of fine silver that has been exposed through
repeated heating and pickling. It’s a good thing. It will help keep
the piece from oxidizing as quickly.

BTW, let it cool or dunk it in water first. Hot pickle burns and
splashes when it hits hot metal. Not good for you, your clothes or
your silver.