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What is the very best solder flow retardant?

Hello everyone.

I please want to know what is the most heat resistant or very best solder or fusing retardant that one can use?

I ask because I will be fusing links of an Argentium chain. I want to try and make the entire chain with zero solder so that if there were any kind of discoloration or tarnishing even after forming the germanium layer, I wanted there to at least be no visible solder line.

I know some people use yellow ochre or water based White-Out. But I need a retardant that will survive the high heat of fusing the Argentium. I’m attaching a photo of the same type of chain I’m making. But the photo is just from the internet as I can’t find my own photos at the moment, my castings will not look this bad so please disregard the poor quality. I think the photo is from when Gucci was mass producing their own anchor chains.

Anyways, I tried doing my homework and it sounds like liquid graphite from an automotive store would be best to survive the fusing temperatures as a retardant? I’m open to any other thoughts on this.

Thank you! In case no one remembers, I have never taken a single jewelry class so as always, forgive my ignorance.

Ronda Coryell developed a wonderful water soluble product called Masking Mud. It is clay based and completely non-toxic. She developed this product for Argentium, but it works well with any metal.

Karen Christians
Western Avenue Studio, #506
122 Western Ave.
Lowell, MA 01851


Nicrobraz stop-off pen from the wall colmonoy corporation. Stuller

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I’m confused about what you are doing! Fusing and soldering are not the same thing. If you are fusing, then why would you need a solder flow retardant when you aren’t using solder?

Nick … what Anne said :slight_smile: If you are soldering I’ve never seen yellow ochre burn off … its basically iron oxide. The only issue I’ve seen with yellow ochre is if you get it to runny it just runs everywhere and then nothing flows … and it can be a pain to clean up sometimes if you get it in the wrong places. Fusing is basically controlled melting and a solder retardant won’t stop that. You might want to do some research in fusing Argentium … Ronda Coryell has some good ones. Just play with it a while and you’ll get the hang of it. Things I have found that help in a successful Argentium fuse are having a very hot, smaller flame you can concentrate on the join and get it hot fast (I use a Meco Midget with a small Paige tip). Remember Argentium has much lower coefficient of thermal conductivity when compared to standard sterling (it acts a lot like gold) , so the heat is gonna stay mostly on the place you put the tip. You just gotta be careful and get it to fuse before it slumps on you. One thing I have found useful it to put a small (very small) piece of Agentium round wire on the join and concentrate on that. Because of Argentium’s thermal characteristics the small piece will melt first and seems to be a catalyst in getting the join to go … just what I do … others experiences may vary. You are not going to get a solder join per se … but it damn sure will slump if you don’t get your timing right. Just practice.

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Solder retardant is simply what the substance I need is called. I still have to prevent previously fused links from fusing in the wrong position when I fuse the next link. A commercially sold tool for this is likely to be called a solder retardant.

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I have never made silver chain but do often make pieces with a large number of soldering operations.
The retardant I use is a product called Contex which I think is a carbon based substance - it is a black liquid that looks the colour of pencil lead and about the thickness of double cream. I couldn’t get it here in the UK and found it at a company called Fischer based in Germany.
When you use it it you can gently heat it to start with to stop it from running.
Good luck

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Again we are all still confused. Are you soldering or fusing. In case you don’t understand. Soldering involves adding a small piece of silver that has other metals added to it to make it melt at a lower temperature than the silver your are attaching together. Solder stop will keep the silver solder from flowing where you don’t want it to go. It will not prevent the solder joint nearby from melting. For that you need a heat sink. Something that will absorb some of the heat like a tweezer clipped on the joint. Fusing is the act of melting the metal itself maybe with a small thin piece of that metal fitted into the joint until the two ends soften enough to weld together. I would think that fusing would be a poor choice for building a chain. It works well for sizing a ring where you don’t want to have a solder seam. But it is over kill for a chain. Plus silver does not do fusing as well as gold. Use a hard silver solder and hold the chain in a tweezer over the joint in the previous link. You don’t even really need the solder stop if you are careful with your flame and don’t use too much solder.

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I think I mentioned I want to fuse Argentium, which easily fuses. Sterling Silver does not. I only called it a “solder retardant” because I assume that the substance I need is used very commonly to prevent solder from flowing.

A heat sink may work, but all silver alloys are much more difficult to control where the heat is because silver conducts so well. Gold is a lot easier to use the heat sink method on to prevent fusing or solder.

By the time I get one link up to fusing temperature, any other links nearby would be a pretty high temperature as well. I just thought it would be a lot easier and less risk to simply slather on a bunch of fusing or “solder” retardant on the nearby fused links.

I think I have enough answers, thank you everyone. It looks like the graphite or carbon based ones are a good one to try.

Let us know what you use and if it works.

Ah but sterling DOES fuse and beautifully too! Victoria Lansford has a Craftsy Class on how to fuse sterling silver. I just finished teaching my ‘beginner’ student how to… Much fun!


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Rick read through the links again my friend :slight_smile: Argentium has a very low coefficient of thermal conductivity. Put a small hot flame on the area you want to fuse, maybe put a tiny piece of Argentium on or in the join if you have the flex for it to close when it melts. Put some yellow orchre on the other links if it floats your boats, it won’t burn off. Argentium is not standard sterling, it behaves very differently. Heat sink the other links if it floats your boat … if you get in and out with a small, hot flame the other sections won’t come close to melting … just don’t conduct heat that well.

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Hi, Rick,

I’m by no means an expert, but I would recommend testing any graphite you want to use because many graphite products now contain polymers.

(I have been trying to find graphite pencil leads to use with hinge making and, so far, the brands I have found have all contained polymers, which I discover when they flame up since no mention of the polymers is on the box.)

Lots of good advice here (which I plan on reading more closely).

If I understand correctly, the soldering clays and the Masking Mud (definitely checking that out), etc., are for protecting from heat, while the Wite-Outs, Liquid Paper, yellow ochre, graphite, slightly wetted powdered red rouge, etc., are for protecting from solder flowing where you don’t want it to.

I’d test various products and see what does what I want it to. And take notes. And maybe film it. (:blush: Can you tell I’m still learning?)

All the best,


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My experience fusing chains with Argentium silver is it is very easy. I never used any heat block as it acts like gold. I did two at a time then connected the double links with single links. I never worried about heating the entire link, just went to the seam. I used My-t-flux as the flux as it helps with the fusing and is recommended. I do admit that in making the entire chain I did accidently fuse two links to themselves. But what I did was to make sure the links did not touch by putting a groove in my firebrick so I could adjust the connecting links so as little as possible were touching. Practice with a couple and you will find it is very user friendly. Best of luck

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Does anyone have a suggestion for a solder block that would work well with 1mm or smaller sterling snake chain? I have tried white out and maalox / antacid. My issue seems to be the tiny tolerances within the architecture of the chain is the ideal environment for solder to flow and fill. The particulate in suspension within the blocking agents really are too large to block because they don’t seem to penetrate the tiny voids enough. I am also using heat sinks to keep temperature down, but… it’s not working as well as i hoped. Add in needing flux for fire scale control, it is a double bear.

The white out is nearly impossible to remove.

Has anyone gone down this path before?

Attached is an image of a piece. It has a rather dense (in comparison to the chain) lily of the vally floret. The goal is to have a direct solder connection to the flower and not stiffen the chain more than an eighth of an inch.


@Eileen _Webb
Are you trying to solder the pendant to the chain?

Tricia- When making hinges I use a cheap mechanical pencil lead to rub on
either edge of the hinge knuckles to keep them from soldering together.
Never had a problem.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
-Jo Haemer

Hi, Jo,

So you’re just running the pencil lead over the edge to protect it from soldering? I’ll definitely give that a try.

I wonder if the softer drawing pencils have less to no polymers in them. Worth testing to find out.

I’ve been using just the leads themselves to run through the length of the hinge to hold it in place. It’s the ends sticking out that will flame on me that I was talking about in my earlier post.

Nothing too dramatic — it’s closer to the flame when burning off the alcohol in the boric acid / denatured alcohol flux / protectorant than lighter fluid squirted on a bar-b-que — but it’s definitely surprising.

Thanks for the tip!

(And sorry I couldn’t help Rick more.)



There are two elements to the piece - a distinct independent choker length snake chain & a pendant. The pendant has hand fabricated bale at the top with a 999 silver leaf. There is a connecting length if snake chain connecting bale and flower at each end. The top soldering is working pretty well. The bottom connection to the flower is problematic, most likely because the flower is such a massive heat sink.

Two other images might expain a bit more clearly. I welded the bale together. Then the soldering at the top of the chain is all similar size components. Again, the bottom solder control is the issue.

I have considered drilling out the flower and mechanically attaching, but I want to avoid that if I can.


There is a snake chain soldering thread somewhere in the archives.

If your design is a butt joint, then maybe try a different solder joint:
Drill the flower and push the chain into the hole, so that more flower surface is holding onto the tip of the snake chain.
Point the torch inside the flower to keep the flower hot while soldering and to draw the solder inside the flower.

You might also want to use a solder flow retardant, and maybe thread the chain thru a piece of potato with a hole in it the diameter of your chain.