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Re: [Orchid] Old pickle - [Digest]
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Orchid Wednesday, April 29, 1998
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From: "John Burgess" <johnb AT>

    G'day Sandra;    When sterling is heated copper in the alloy
    becomes oxidises to copper oxide and copper sulphide.   The
    sulphate ION in the pickle (sparex is sodium hydrogen sulphate)
    dissolves the copper compounds leaving a thin surface layer or pure
    silver.  The copper becomes copper sulphate, (and you'll have
    noticed that old pickle is pale blue)   But if a piece of iron - no
    matter how small - is introduced, a tiny electric current flows and
    the silver becomes copper plated, but the film is generally very
    thin.   You can get rid of it easily by first making up some fresh
    pickle in a clean jar, then heat the silver briefly to just below
    soldering temperature, which will oxidise the thin copper film.  
    Put it in the clean, uncontaminated pickle and in a few minutes the
    job will have regained it's silvery-white look.  Remove it from the
    pickle with brass, copper, or preferably plastic forceps, wash it
    thoroughly in sodium carbonate solution to neutralise the acid and
    'Bob's yr uncle!'         But don't heat too strongly or for too
    long, and you shouldn't get the dreaded fire stain.      Iron or
    steel tools will always precipitate copper from a used pickle
    solution. I made my forceps from a 3/4 inch strip of rigid plastic
    (Perspex to us; Lucite to you folk) I've had 'em for years.

From: AStick7910 <AStick7910 AT>

    You must have picked your piece up with some steel tweezers- it
    makes an electrical plating effect, and coats your piece with
    copper from the pickle. You have to buff the copper off, or sand it
    , or whatever. sometimes this can be useful, you might want to
    copper plate something (like gold), so you could oxidize it with
    liver of sulpher, which won't normally color gold.  then you buff
    the copper off the high spots.  anne 

From: MetalWerks <MetalWerks AT>

    Sandra, Somehow you must have gotten a piece of iron or steel into
    your pickle. When steel or iron is placed into your picke solution
    it changed the pickling solution into a plating solution and what
    you did when you placed your piece of silver into your pickle was
    to plate it with the copper that is slowly removed each time you
    pickle a silver piece. The only way to get rid of the copper is to 
    buff it off or strip it off with a plating unit. Michael 

From: Deewo <Deewo AT>

    The pickle was contaminated. I"ve seen it happen even to fresh
    batches of pickle when some-one  tossed in something that
    interacted with the sparex,or used non-copper tongs, or left iron
    binding wire on a piece. Step 1 is to get rid of the old stuff,
    clean out the pot and mix a fresh batch. Sometimes re- pickling
    will clean it up, but  maybe someone else knows the magic answer 
    to clearing up the pink. Donna--on Long Island where the blossoms
    are exploding										     

From: Ed Colbeth <wander_r AT> 

    Sandra, Your pickle turned into copper plating solution.  If your
    going to use sparex type pickle you have to change it when it
    starts to change color or all of those little copper ions will
    start to deposit themselves on your work.  Just anneal the piece
    and put it in some fresh, hot, pickle.  I use nitric acid(10:1
    water to acid)for my silver pickle it lasts a very long time. 
    Always add the acid into the water, otherwise it may


From: Brian Minnear <MR AT>

    I suggest that you may have had some iron deposits in your old
    pickle. This happened to a student of mine when she immersed her
    recently soldered stirling ring whilst it was still bound with
    iron wire! Cheers from Christchurch  N.Z. [ where the Autumn leaves
    are just beginning to turn.] 

From: Elizabeth Wilkinson <wilkinso AT>

    Hi, The piece turned pink because copper ions in the pickle plated
    out onto the sterling piece.  This usually happens when you put
    the silver in and there is some iron comtaminant, like iron binding
    wire, yellow ochre, or iron tweezers. The iron reduces the copper
    ions which then plate out as copper metal, and some iron goes into
    solution as iron ions.  If your pickle is really green, maybe it is
    loaded up with copper and you need a new batch.  In any case, you
    should be able to heat the piece with a torch until the copper
    turns to black copper oxide, and then quench it in pickle and this
    should get rid of the copper coating. Hope this helps. Cheers,

From: onyx <onyx AT>

    Sandra, I believe what happened was that somehow iron got into the
    pickle. Prehaps thru a small piece of binding wire,or maybe iron
    oxide( no flow?), or steel tweezers? Once introduced to the acid
    bath, the iron created an electrical charge, depositing a thin
    copper coating on any metal in the bath at that time.The thickness
    of the copper coating is dependant on the strength of the
    solution.Heating the solution (or putting an electrical charge on
    the silver) will increase the plating response. By the way for
    safety's sake, you should never boil sparex because dangerous fumes
    will be generated. Sparex works best at about 180 degrees F.To
    remove the plating, first try mixing a new batch of pickle.If that
    dosen't work you may have to polish the silver. If the silver is a
    chain, best to use baking soda and a tooth brush or rub it in with
    your fingers while you gently pull the chain thru the baking soda
    in your fingers.(this is a much better experience than getting a
    chain caught in the buffing wheel and losing a finger) good luck
    and let me know how it works out. Don Wollwage in hot and sunny
    Northern CA.

From: Tim Goodwin <tmn8tr AT>

    Sounds to me like you dipped your piece in pickle that was
    contaminated. Aside from re-polishing the piece, the easyest thing
    to do is get rid of that old pickle, and make a fresh batch, and
    make it a little strong. Soak it in that for awhile while it's hot.
    You can also heat your piece a bit and quench in the hot (New)
    pickle, this should bring the silver back pretty fast.



    what you did is put a silver plated ring in pickel or a some
    steele got in your pickel  . i would make new pickel  and clean
    your pickel pot good !!!!!

From: "St. Eligius & Co." <eligiu AT>

    your pickle has been contaminated with steel/iron. in so doing it
    has literally metamorphasized to a copper plating
    solution.solution: repolish the whole piece and habitually make new
    solutions. good luck. kim

From: Jewlr 1 <Jewlr1 AT>

    You contaminated your pickle with steel, either with tweezers or a
    piece of steel you thought was sterling. You should get rid of that
    pickle and mix and new. Remember no steel in the pickle!

From: "Guy Audette" <gaudette AT>

Hi ElegantBee (Abeille elegante),

    Normaly, when it happen, it's because you have put steel in the
    bath. Maybe you have drop the silver in the bath with a steel
    tweezer or you put the piece in acid with the iron wire (binding).
    The fact is that there is a lot of copper in the old bath, it comes
    from  the sterling but also from the copper tongs you use to put
    and take out the pieces, so, steel is charging the solution (acid
    bath) with electricity and when you drop pieces in the bath it is
    making the same phenomenon than electroplating, all the copper
    stick to the piece. Bye!

Vincent Guy Audette
gaudette AT
Quebec, Canada

From: Dauvit Alexander <dauvit AT>

    Old pickle tends to be copper-saturated (from the copper content
    of sterling) and if any iron gets into it, it will actively
    copper-plate your sterling at any temperature.  There are two
    things I would suggest for removing this plating:  1) Use emery
    paper when the surface is still wet or  2) Electro-strip it.  If
    the pinkish copper is really light, though, it will often wipe off
    with your fingers.

Hope this helps.

Yours aye, 
Dauvit Alexander,
Glasgow, Scotland.

From: solk1 AT (Sol Krichevsky)

    Sandra....Not having been there I cant be sure what happened but
    I'll take  what I think is a good guess. Any iron object placed
    into a pickle solution will cause copper to plate out onto the
    silver. If you were using iron or steel tongs to handle the hot
    silver, the tongs may have entered the pickle solution unoticed. It
    only takes a second for this to happen. The other possibility, not
    markedly different, is that some small iron particles ( filings
    perhaps ) are in your pickle solution. I'd just dump the pickle and
    start over. I"ve been thru exactly this myself, and have watched
    students do it regularly. Let me know what happens.

Sol K.

From: Marion Margoshes <mbm AT>

    Beautiful, springlike New York-the dogwood trees are really
    magnificent! Sounds as if the pickle was contaminated by a previos
    piece.  Pickle and peroxide  - half and half - should help. 

From: "Arnold" <arno000 AT>

    Hello Sandra, If pickle is contaminated with steel, it will begin
    to plate things with copper. This is a handy trick to know, but a
    mess when you don't want it to happen. The only way to stop it is
    to get rid of the pickle and start fresh. A drill bit or a broken
    saw blade could be the culprit.  Tom 

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