Your problem could be due to any of a number of reasons, or a
combination of more than one, but here are my own thoughts on your
I think your torch is your number one problem. A pen torch would
suggest a really small flame, despite its temperature capabilities.
John Donivan wrote a very good post a while back and he made the
whole thing click into place for me regarding torch capability. He
said (and I’m speaking from memory so sorry if I’ve got anything
wrong John) that it’s not the flame’s temperature (or the temperature
which your fuel gas is capable of achieving) alone which indicates
whether a torch will do a certain job. It’s the number of BTU’s
(thermal units) its gives out, which is the important point. So even
if you’re using the right gas, with a hot enough flame to melt silver
in theory, you need to ensure that your torch will give out enough
VOLUME of that gas to provide the required number of BTU’s.
On the same note, because the torch is (probably) not giving out
enough heat, it’s taking far too long to accomplish the soldering
job, meaning that the solder pallion has balled up and oxidised,
meaning that it will no longer flow due to oxygen contaminating it,
but you are eventually getting enough heat into the piece to actually
melt your main silver parts. That’s why people say you need to get in
and out as quickly as possible when soldering. Therefore a torch
giving more BTU’s would allow you to solder quickly, avoiding the
contamination of solder, and enabling you to successfully solder.
The other advantage to a flame with more BTU’s (and therefore more
volume), is that it envelopes your soldering operation more
adequately, thereby helping to eliminate atmospheric oxygen.
It will come. I had some difficulties initially - everybody does -
but after making a few changes to my routine, I found what worked
for me, and you will too. Don’t despair - enjoy it, it’s fun and feel
free to email me if you have any questions I may be able to help