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Ultrasonics and Silver?


#1

I read thru most of the posting about Ultrasonics and found more than
a few advised not use sterling/fine silver in the Ultrasonic Cleaners
because it might damage/pit the surface. Is this true? Does anyone
who works primarily in silver have this experience? Also, any other
info regarding the use of silver and Ultrasonic Cleaners would be
much appreciated. Also what about Ionic Cleaners, do these REALLY
work? I work primarily in sterling/fine silver and was considering
purchasing an Ultrasonic Cleaner for my studio to remove dirt, rouge
and grease off my pieces. Thanks a bunch in advance for any info!


#2

Dear Nigel,

I too work in mainly sterling silver and I do use an ultrasonic
cleaner to remove polish residues. I add a small amount of dish soap
and ammonium hydroxide (ammonia dissolved in water and called
"household ammonia" in the States I believe). I’ve not noticed any
problems with pitting but am interested to hear other replies.

Helen
UK


#3
...found more than a few advised not use sterling/fine silver in
the Ultrasonic Cleaners because it might damage/pit the surface.
Is this true? 

I’ve never had it happen. But I imagine if you have more than one
piece in there at a time, and one piece has more mass than another,
it might be possible. The cavitation from the ultrasonic might cause
one to ping against another. An ultrasonic is better to get polish
and other gunk off a piece than using a toothbrush. It will not
remove tarnish. Get a good one that’s made for the jewelry industry.
The versions made for the retail public are a joke.

...Also what about Ionic Cleaners, do these REALLY
work?...considering purchasing an Ultrasonic Cleaner for my studio
to remove dirt, rouge and grease off my pieces. 

An ionic cleaner is great for removing tarnish, especially the
insides of chains where it’s impossible to clean tarnish otherwise.
You can’t leave silver in for too long though, or it will redeposit
the tarnish back onto the piece. Let it lift the tarnish to the
surface, brush it a bit with a toothbrush, put it back in for a few
more seconds. Repeat until the tarnish is gone. It will not remove
dirt, rouge and grease. That’s what the ultrasonic is for.


#4

Hi Nigel, I work primarily in sterling and have only had one piece
damaged in the ultrasonic. An end cap to a bracelet, that I
admittedly used too thin a sheet, got a nice size hole eaten through
it. I think it would depend on how aggressive your ultrasonic machine
functions as well as the duration of exposure. You could always
preclean the silver in boiling water with soap then make a short run
in the ultrasonic to finish it up or buy a low end ultrasonic thats
not as aggressive to use just for silver. As far as the ionic
cleaners go, I love mine but I would call it more of a tarnish
remover than a cleaner. What I mean by that is if you put a really
dirty gunky ring in an ionic cleaner it doesn’t do much but if you
put in a relatively clean but tarnished ring that would be time
consuming to repolish or fear of losing detail by constantly
repolishing the ionic cleaner “shines” pun intended =)

J C Doherty


#5

I use an ultrasonic with sterling silver items both stamped and cast
components. Only once did I have a problem with pitting and this was
with laser engraved items on a stamped component. I left them in the
ultrasonic too long - probably 20 mins- and they pitted in the laser
marked areas. I have not had a problem since and am careful not to
leave them in for longer than 5 minutes.


#6

Ultrasonics are rather viscous machines. Hang a piece of kitchen
aluminium foil in one for a minute or two :slight_smile: Either it’ll make you
think twice about dipping your fingers or you need a new ultrasonic.

Silver is soft and cast pieces not always of the best density (micro
porosity). I’ve seen damage but a light buff and SHORT trip to the
ultrasonic fixed everything

Jeff
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand