You already read how much I hate the many harmful chemicals used in jewelry making and how I am in favor of green alternatives. Today's good news is that the substances used to protect metal from firescale are among the easiest to eliminate from one's workshop.
Using a torch on sterling silver leaves it coated in a dark layer. To get rid of it, one can use a chemical solution - a pickle - but this is not the only option and a simple all-natural method exists that will allow you to get rid of firescale without any of the guilt. As you'll see, it is all very simple. Chances are you can get started right away because you already have everything you need.
I need pins almost every day and I make them in batches. It only takes a moment to make them. However, somethings needs to be done about the black layer that coats them. For the procedure I am about to explain you will need dry pins. if you have other element that needs to be freed from heatscale, feel free to use them. Just dry them first.
There are two ingredients you will need to create a solution.
Some salt and some white vinegar.
I use a simple jar for my solution. I chose a jar with a fairly wide bottom to allow my silver to be submerged in the solution. As you see, I have only added a small amount of vinegar into my jar, no more than 2 centimeters (about one inch). I won't need more and I don't see any reason to make more than I need.
Others who are using this method like to be able to heat their solution. Heating allows the chemical processes at play to sort their effects faster. Personally, I don't mind waiting. My pins are made in small batches whenever I run short of them, so time is not a concern. If you need to get rid of firescale quickly, though, be aware that heating the vinegar and keeping it warm in a heating ceramic pot might do the trick. There is a reason the pot needs to be made in ceramic. Metal will react with the solution, color it, and end up coloring your silver too, therefore whatever you do, do not use metal - not for the container and not for any tool you might use.
Once you start adding salt to your vinegar, you will see the vinegar going from clear to milky before going back to clear. Soon enough the amount of salt will be too much to keep dissolving and that will be the moment you can stop adding more.
Time to immerse your silver in the solution. It will probably take at least two hours for the solution to dissolve your heathscale, possibly more. Since the container is see-through, you won't have any issue checking on the progress of your silver.
Once the process is complete, you can just reach for your silver and rinse it thoroughly. As you see, I reach for it with my bare hand. This solution is made with ingredients that are completely safe for you. Just make sure you have no cuts or scrapes in your hand and you will be fine. If you do need to use a tool, remember to choose a tool made of wood or plastic. Don't use any metal!
While this solution is perfectly safe, it needs to be washed away from your silver. A small container filled up with water will do the trick.
Et voilà, your silver is no longer covered in firescale, and you can pat it dry, and start using it!
Your solution can be saved in the jar, ready for future uses.
If you have enjoyed finding out about this natural method and you would like to find out more, please check out my blog on oxidizing silver without liver of sulphur.
I love hematite, onyx, and chocolate.