Friday, September 30, 2011

Jewelry Making Basics - Pickle

If you work with metal, especially precious metal, in your jewelry then you probably use or have at least heard about pickle.  This acidic solution is available from most jewelry supply stores or you can make your own at home. Pickle is used to clean flux residue and oxidation off of your metal.  If you want a slight antique finish you will want to use another method like a polishing cloth that will only remove surface oxidation. 

I use a powdery crystal-like product called PH Minus that is normally used in pools to lower the ph levels.  I had read about using PH Minus, but the article writer hadn't actually tried it.  Since I had a giant tub on hand for our pool, I thought I'd give it a try.  It worked great!

There's no exact ratio, just mix a small amount with water.  I store my pickle in a small crock pot.  This pickle will work cold, but it works faster when warm.  Also keep a lid on it so it won't evaporate or get anything in it and keep out of children's reach.

When you have some oxidized metal, just drop it in and wait until all the oxidation is gone, then remove with copper tongs.
  If you use anything steel to fish out your metal, everything will get copper plated.  If your metal it hot from torching or soldering, make sure the item has cooled before placing it in the pickle so as not to burn or contaminate it.  The amount of time depends on how strong your pickle is, the temperature of your pickle and how much oxidation there is on your item.  Be careful not to inhale or get any on your skin or in your eyes.  It might be a milder version of commercial pickle, but it's still an acid, so take precautions.  I always wear eye protection and gloves.  After I remove my items from the pickle, I place them on clean paper towels and then rinse them in cold water.  You might need to polish your items with a polishing cloth and shine it up.

Well, there you have it.  I hope you have found this tutorial helpful.  Please leave a comment if you liked it or come back and let me know how it's working for you!

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