Updated: 12/28/20, 8/4/18, 2/15/17
See the end of this post for links to additional information and videos on this topic.
- 1 What are pickle and pickling?
- 2 How to Heat Pickle
- 3 Notes on Pickling
- 4 Types of Pickle
- 4.0.1 Sulfuric Acid Pickle
- 4.0.2 Citric Acid Pickle – a safe and non-toxic pickle
- 4.0.3 Suppliers of Citric Pickle or Citric Acid
- 4.0.4 Other types of pickle
- 4.0.5 Sodium Bisulfate Pickle
- 5 How To Remove Copper Plating or “Help, I Pickled My Silver Jewelry and Now It’s Covered with Copper”
- 6 Maintaining your Pickle
- 7 Information on Copper in Waste Water
- 8 Neutralizing Pickle
- 9 Non-USA Suppliers of Pickle
- 10 Related Videos
- 11 Related Web Pages
What are pickle and pickling?
Oxidation on copper made by heating with a torch.
Pickling is a process that removes oxidation and flux residues that develop during the soldering process. Pickles are (usually) a mixture of an acid or an acid salt and water that removes oxides and flux residues from metal. See my article: Soldering 101 – Oxidation, Flux, and Fire Scale Prevention for more information. Pickle does not remove firescale or firestain. The only way to remove the firescale is with abrasives.
Because of the corrosive nature of acids and acid salts, the handling and use of pickle require specific safety precautions. Of course, the amount and degree of safety precautions vary depending on the type of pickle. There are certain pickles, like vinegar or citric acid pickle, that are much less dangerous than say, sodium bisulfate or sulfuric acid pickle.
Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) is commonly used by jewelers as a neutralizer. Sodium Bicarbonate is a base. A base plus an acid equals neutralized. (Remember those science classes? See Chem4Kids.com for more in-depth info on acids and bases). *Side note: if you are wanting to neutralize ferric chloride when etching, it is recommended to use sodium carbonate, not sodium bicarbonate. Aka: washing powder
Amazon carries a 13.5lb bag that lasts a long time!
After pickling your metal, you need to neutralize the acid – even if your pickle is made from vinegar or citric acid – with a base. If you don’t, the acid will continue to eat away at the metal. So, once you’ve removed your piece from the pickle, dunk it in a Pyrex or other type of ovenproof bowl containing a mixture of baking soda (a small handful) and (a few cups) of water. There is no exact recipe. You’ll know it is working if your piece bubbles when you place it in the neutralizing solution. Your neutralizer will also turn blue, after a few dunks.
It is best to simmer or boil hollow jewelry in a neutralizing bath after pickling: hollow beads, hollow-formed rings, etc. Boiling the neutralizer allows the pickle to reach deep inside hollow spaces.
Don’t boil the neutralizer in a pot that you will cook in. Get a used one from the junk store and designate it for studio use only.
Before boiling in baking soda make sure that any stones or materials, used in the construction of your piece of jewelry, will survive at or above 212°F. If you have a sacrificial piece or a small chunk of your material, try that first. Items to be concerned about are emeralds (they often have fillers or oils in them), organics such as bone, pearls, shell or wood, and opals.
How to Heat Pickle
Since most pickles work best when warm, you need something to keep them warm in. Most jewelers use a ceramic lined crockpot or a commercially available pickle pot. Micro-Tools.com sells the Little Dipper whose small footprint makes it studio-friendly. Use the lowest setting – unless you are using citric pickle which works better the hotter it is.
It’s important to only use a pickle pot with a ceramic liner as the acid will slowly eat away at any metal. Try to avoid pickle pots that have metal-trimmed lids or metal screws on the top to secure the handle. If your crockpot has metal on the top, you paint it with an acrylic sealer to prolong its life.
A good source for pickle pots are resale shops like Goodwill or Crossing the Jordan. Check for cracks in the ceramic before you purchase them. They usually cost anywhere from $5.00 to $15.00 US – depending on your area and the size of the pot.
In a pinch, you can use a coffee cup warmer and a pint-sized mason or canning jar as your pickling system. Extra benefit – You can also use the coffee cup warmer for drying metal clay pieces and enamels before firing!
Notes on Pickling
- Always use Distilled Water to make your pickle with. The minerals and metals in your water will react with the acid. Many people have a lot of iron in their water which can coat your brass, bronze, silver, etc. with the copper present in your pickle pot (remember the section on copper flashing, above?). Remember that every time you pickle a metal that contains copper, small particles of the copper are leached from the metal and deposited in the pickle. After several uses (sometimes only one or two times) you will notice that your pickle is turning blue/green. That color change signifies the presence of copper.
- A common misconception is that you need separate pickle pots for silver and for base metals (brass, copper, or bronze). This is simply not true. I’ve been using one pot, for a very long time, and have never had a problem with the copper in my pickle affecting my other metals. The copper ions will not harm your metal, slow your pickle or affect your silver and golds (either fine, sterling, or Argentium) in any way! Another reason to not have two pickle pots: more bench space!
- All pickles work best when warm. Don’t boil.
- When mixing up a new batch of pickle, remember to add the dry acid to the water. Don’t dump the water into the acid. Want to know why?
“A large amount of heat is released when strong acids are mixed with water. Adding more acid releases more heat. If you add water to acid, you form an extremely concentrated solution of acid initially. So much heat is released that the solution may boil very violently, splashing concentrated acid out of the container! If you add acid to water, the solution that forms is very dilute and the small amount of heat released is not enough to vaporize and spatter it. So Always Add Acid to water, and never the reverse.”
Of course, when the water evaporates, you’ll need to add more water. You can do this because you aren’t dealing with a bunch of concentrated acid. The acid is already dispersed in the water.
- When mixing your pickle – no matter the type: Wear a good mask – I like 3M’s particulate mask, chemical resistant gloves, and chemical safety goggles. Turn on your ventilation system. Even if wearing a particulate mask, keep your face away from the pickle pot. Wash hands well after mixing and using. Safety, safety, safety, please!
- Pickle strength can be adjusted. You can add more or (as in my case) less than the instructions state. I always use about 1/2 of what is recommended and it works fine. It all depends on how fast you want your pickle to work. I find the “pickling break”, maybe 5 minutes for the pickle to work, is a chance to work on either another project or another part of the project – there’s always something to be done! It’s a time to hammer that wire or to get those jump rings closed.
- Neutralize, in your baking soda bath, any tools used to mix up your pickle like tongs, spoons, measuring cups, etc. – anything that came into contact with the acid! I’d put my gloves in the neutralizer too.
- Conversely, don’t forget to rinse the baking soda off of your spoons/tongs before putting them back in the acid. Over time, un-rinsed baking soda-coated-tongs repeatedly dunked in pickle, will neutralize it.
- Never again use the spoons, tongs, or measuring cups, that you used to mix up your pickle, for cooking! Label them “for studio use only”.
- Don’t forget to turn off your pickle pot when you leave the studio. I have my pickle pot plugged into a power strip. I also have a small clip-on light plugged into the same strip. I only turn my pickle and the light on or off with the power strip’s on/off switch. When I close up my studio, I always remember to turn off the pickle because I have a pickle alarm!
- If you “cook” your pickle, i.e. evaporate all the water, turn it off and let the pot cool down. Ventilate your studio if necessary. When the pot reaches room temperature or even slightly warmer, you can slowly begin to add distilled water. Let the water and acid sit for 1/2 – 1 hour and then turn the pot on – on the low setting. Stir occasionally. You should be able to use the pickle again when the pickle heats up. It may take a few hours to totally re-absorb the acid. While you are waiting, go set up that power strip with your pickle pot and your clip-light!
- Don’t put steel into the pickle pot unless it is stainless steel. Stainless is safe in pickle. Remove all binding wire before pickling – unless you are using copper or stainless steel wire. Regular steel binding wire, cross-locks, tweezers, some soldering picks, etc. when dropped into pickle, that has free-floating copper molecules in it, will create an electrical current that plates all surrounding metal with copper called copper flashing. Sometimes, this is something that you want to do but, most of the time it isn’t. If this happens to you – don’t Panic. It’s very easy to remove with Super Pickle.
- If you do put steel into the pickle, just take it out asap. The pickle will be fine. You don’t need to throw the pickle out! Really, you don’t!!! Copper flashing usually occurs when little, unnoticed pieces of steel, like a stuck, broken drill bit is left in situ or a piece of binding wire adheres to the solder. After pickling, you’ll usually see a small ring of copper around the steel. To fix this, remove the steel from your jewelry. Here’s a recipe for removing broken drill bits. For flashing (aka electroplating) to occur, the steel needs to be pretty danged close to the metal and it needs sufficient time to lay down a layer of copper so, if you accidentally dunk your steel tweezers into the pickle, no one needs to know! Just get them out of there and vow to never do it again! (Don’t forget to neutralize the acid on them though!). If you drop in a piece still wrapped in binding wire, remove it, finish whatever soldering is left to do, and mix up some Super Pickle.
- Sometimes, if I leave silver pieces in my (sodium bisulfate) pickle pot for too long (completely forgotten usually), a silver, matte, gray, “something” coats the silver. I’ve left pieces in for an hour or less and had this happen. I then must re-torch and re-pickle (sometimes twice) to remove the gray gunk. I emailed a few businesses about this and they replied that they thought the silver was being etched in the pickle. I also think that, because of the etching, impurities in the pickle, enter the metal. So far, this is my working theory. We’ll see…
Types of Pickle
Sulfuric Acid Pickle
Some pickles, although not very common today, due to the dangerous nature of the acid, are made from a solution of between 5% and 10% sulfuric acid. They are now difficult to find and are usually seen in the manufacturing arm of the industry.
Citric Acid Pickle – a safe and non-toxic pickle
Citric Acid (anhydrous fine granular citric acid) is the new, “green” pickle but, there are a few disadvantages:
- It doesn’t last as long as the SB. Actually, it has a lot less longevity than traditional pickle.
- It can grow mold – if it sits cold too long. Heat it up a few times a week. It does get moldy. Mine sat for a few weeks and created a cloud-like mold. But, the mold was easily removable with a scoop. I think the mold can be avoided with frequent heating.
- Because of the mold, some say it can smell funky although, I have never noticed any odor.
- It doesn’t clean the metal as fast as Sodium Bisulfate pickle does.
- The higher the temperature, the better it works – which can result in burns from a really hot pickle – so, be careful!
- You still can’t pour it down the drain if there are copper particles present. You can tell if copper is present if your pickle is blue-green. Sterling, German silver, Argentium silver, most lower karat golds, brass, bronze, and copper are going to shed a few copper molecules in your pickle. You won’t get copper atoms in your pickle if using just fine silver or 24K gold but, since fine silver and pure gold don’t oxidize, there’s usually no need to pickle them in the first place. But, not always…
- Citric acid pickle is a safer, non-toxic pickle. You still need to wear a mask when mixing up a new batch though. Avoid inhaling the powder and I wouldn’t put my face in the pickle pot either! (You guys and your crazy ideas!) Splash some in your eyes and you’ll be crying to mamma! So, wear eye protection!
- Add more citric acid as the solution weakens or make new.
- MSDS: Causes respiratory tract irritation. May cause digestive tract irritation. Moisture sensitive. Causes severe eye irritation. May cause skin sensitization by skin contact. Causes skin irritation.
Recipe for Citric Acid Pickle:
One part citric acid to 6 to 7 parts distilled water.
Another Recipe for Citric Acid Pickle:
1 cup hot lemon juice with 1 teaspoon of salt or 1 cup of hot vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Ronda states, in the post, that this works well with Argentium silver.
Add Citric Acid to the water – Important!
Suppliers of Citric Pickle or Citric Acid
- Micro-Tools.com – 2 lbs
- Amazon USA – Spicy World – 5 lbs
- Amazon – other types of citric acid
- Local Pharmacies, Wine, and Beer making suppliers.
You’ll go through a bit of this, as you need to replace it pretty often so, I recommend buying in bulk.
BTW, I’m back to my sodium bisulfate pickle: it’s fast, doesn’t mold, and lasts forever (years, for a one-person studio). You’ll know when to replace your pickle when it starts to take longer and longer to work – when operating under normal conditions.
Other types of pickle
Salt and Vinegar Pickle – Another safe and non-toxic pickle
Salt and Vinegar Pickle Recipe:
- Add one teaspoon of salt for every cup of vinegar. I’d use distilled white vinegar so that you can see what’s in the pickle. Works much faster when warm.
Alum can be found at the grocery store (in small quantities for more money), Amazon carries the Barry Farm Brand for $8.53 US a pound. I can’t find any more suppliers. It shouldn’t have iron in it BTW. There are many different types out there.
Alum, in its various forms, is used in pickling (food grade), fixing dyes to fabric, baking powder, dying and tanning hides, and fire extinguishers, to name a few uses. Per McCormick (the Spice People) “It is a general-purpose food additive that functions as a firming agent.”
Alum, Vinegar, and Salt Pickle
One tablespoon of alum into 1/4 cup of distilled water. Dissolve. Use 8 parts white distilled vinegar for every tablespoon of salt. Pour the water and alum into the vinegar. Heat to simmering (pickle pot on high) and then add salt to the mixture. Turn down the temperature and keep it warm in your pickle pot.
Black Magic Pickle
Micro-Tools.com and Amazon.com sell this pickle. I have never used it. People rated it 3.5 stars on Amazon but, often, one needs to take into account people’s level of experience when reading them. I have seen complaints about products that I know are great but, without proper instruction will rate poorly. So… Without having tried Black Magic, I can’t say anything about its usefulness as a pickle. I have heard that it is supposedly non-toxic and if you’ve got steel in your piece (like a spring), it won’t cause copper plating. Here’s the MSDS on Black Magic Pickle.
It apparently contains sodium metabisulfite (aka disodium metabisulfite) and sodium sulfite. Sodium metabisulfite is used in homebrewing of wine and beer to sterilize equipment and it’s also used for a zillion other things. When mixed with water it releases sulfur dioxide (the poisonous gas coming out of Kileaua right now – Aug. 2018)). It smells like hard-boiled eggs. Hydrogen peroxide is used as a replacement for Sodium metabisulfite because of the SO2 (sulfur dioxide) stench.
At the level jewelers are exposed to this chemical, it is considered a skin, respiratory, and eye irritant. MSDS on Sodium Metabisulfite.
Sodium Sulfite is a soluble sodium salt of sulfurous acid. It prevents dried fruit from discoloring among other things. Exposure to acids causes it to give up sulfur dioxide. Msds Sodium Sulfite. Hazardous if ingested or inhaled. An eye and skin irritant.
Sulfur Dioxide (a by-product when water is added to sodium metabisulfite). SO2 MSDS. Quote from MSDS: “Exposure to concentrations above the TLV of 2 ppm may irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and sinuses, resulting in choking, coughing, and sometimes bronchoconstriction. Concentrations of 50-100 ppm are considered dangerous. Exposures of 400-500 ppm are immediately life-threatening. Exposure to high concentrations may result in pulmonary edema and paralysis.”
As we all know, it’s “better living through chemicals” but, as we all also know, they need to be respected and safety precautions must be taken even when a product is billed as non-toxic or safe to use! Wear a mask, gloves, chemical resistant apron, chemical resistant goggles, and use ventilation when mixing and wear chemical goggles and ventilation when using.
Sodium Bisulfate Pickle
The most common pickle for jewelry making is composed of sodium bisulfate. Sodium bisulfate is also used as a ph reducer for spas so, you can purchase a product like: In The Swim ph Reducer to use as your pickle. Micro-Tools.com sells Sparex #2 which is what I use. Be sure to not purchase Sparex #1 which is used to pickle steel and iron! Check to be sure the label says: Sodium Bisulfate.
Different names for sodium bisulfate pickle:
***Note Sparex #1 is for pickling iron and steel.
ph Reducer – Sodium Bisulfate Pickle
Mix, approximately, one cup of ph reducer to a gallon of distilled water (Acid to water). Adjust amounts for your pickle pot’s size. You can determine how much it holds (if you don’t buy new and have that info readily available). Using a measuring cup, fill the pot to within one or two inches from the top with water. Record your results for future reference. (You don’t want the pickle overflowing when you put items in it!). So, don’t overfill.
*Note: there are 4 quarts in a gallon, so the ratio (don’t know if this is truly accurate as one is liquid and the other dry) for a quart would be: 1/4 cup of ph reducer per quart of distilled water. Fill to within 1-2 inches and then add ph reducer.
How to mix Sodium Bisulfate (aka Sparex #2, Rio Pickle, Safety Pickle)
- Use only distilled water
- Determine acid to water ratio from packaging.
- Measure water and pour into pickle pot.
- Either have two studio dedicated measuring cups or wipe dry the one you just used.
- Measure out your pickle.
- Slowly pour the powdered pickle into the water in the pickle pot.
- Turn on pickle pot/crockpot. Set it on low.
- Stir with your copper, brass, or plastic tongs or a jewelry dedicated plastic or wooden spoon.
- If you can’t wait anymore and there is still some of the bisulfate salts on the bottom, go ahead and use the pickle anyway. The pickle will work and the remaining powder will eventually dissolve.
Warning: (This from Rio Grande’s site: “Sodium Bisulfate. Releases Sulfuric Acid, (here’s SciLab.com’s MSDS on Sulfuric Acid) on contact with water. Causes burns and irritation. Avoid contact with eyes, skin, and clothing. Do not inhale the dust. Do not swallow. Keep out of reach of children.”
Suppliers of Sodium Bisulfate Pickle
- Contenti: Sparex #2
- Kernowcraft: Safety Pickle (UK)
- Otto Frei: Pickle-Ottotech
- Rio Grande – Rio Pickle
There are many more suppliers: Just Google “pickle for metalsmiths or jewelers”!
How To Remove Copper Plating or “Help, I Pickled My Silver Jewelry and Now It’s Covered with Copper”
Please see my page on Copper Flashing for more detailed information on this topic.
I use plastic, 16 oz., disposable medicine cups for this job. Using the clear, disposable measuring cup allows me to see how much of each chemical I am pouring in.
First and rather obviously: remove from the pickle, neutralize and rinse the offending piece of metal. Next, read the following instructions for removing copper flashing.
- The mixture consists of 50% regular ‘ole, drugstore variety hydrogen peroxide (available in 3.5% – 6% concentrations), and 50% pickle from your pickle pot – as long as your pickle is of the sodium bisulfate variety! Here’s an interesting list of the different concentrations and uses of hydrogen peroxide by Daniel Carter. Who knew, (well, maybe you did), that it is also used as a rocket fuel? (90% concentration). To learn more about hydrogen peroxide (you’ll might be surprised at its uses and how it works), please see the For Additional Research section of this article.
- Insert copper plated piece into the mixture.
- Wait a minute or two.
- Put panic attack away for now.
The pickle/peroxide mix can be reused. After a few hours (I leave mine to sit overnight) the hydrogen peroxide will no longer be active.
Maintaining your Pickle
If you use sterling silver, copper, brass, many golds – including gold plate – or bronze, your pickle will eventually turn a turquoise-y green. Your blue/green pickle has molecules of copper swimming around in it, just waiting for some steel to show up.
Pickle lasts a long time but, over time, it will become dirty with dissolved dirt, metals and cat fur. With just a little maintenance, your pickle can live a long and purposeful life.
When the pickle becomes slow, add more acid, if the pickle evaporates add more distilled water.
Keeping your pickle free of gunk, will help to extend its life. I use a (jewelry dedicated) Melitta Coffee cone and cone filters to strain the pickle and remove unwanted materials. It helps if your filters fit your cone.
Another way to extend the life of your pickle is to remove copper from the solution (if present). Ethical Metalsmiths employs steel wool to “soak up” the copper ions. The steel wool is then recycled. Read their article to learn more.
My copper removal test
I decided to try out Ethical Metalsmith’s steel wool idea and the following is what I experienced:
- I put a handfull of steel wool into a small, plastic measuring cup with holes punched into the base and sides.
- A few minutes later, I opened the top to check on it and my studio was filled with a horrible stench – don’t know what the byproduct of copper, steel wool, and sodium bisulfite is (I did research it!) – but, the smell drove me outside. Perhaps, I should have done it outside, in the first place!
- (Image: after pickle (L), before pickle (R). The pickle “ate” the steel wool. While the steel wool was coated with a lot of copper, the odor was so nerve-wracking that I deemed the experiment worthy of further research.
- Does anyone know the name of the (off-putting) fumes that I created? Would love to hear your explanation. I’m guessing oxygen and…?
Yet one more idea for disposal of cupric/copper sulfate at Finishing.com
Here’s a video on copper disposal from John Smith on Youtube.
Information on Copper in Waste Water
Copper can cause problems in wastewater, for aquatic life, drinking water and more. Copper (copper sulfate) is most damaging in a liquid state, as opposed to in its solid form. It can be hazardous in a septic or water treatment system as it can destroy the beneficial bacteria used in processing our drinking water. The same is true for your septic system plus, there’s the hazard of runoff to one of the many bodies of water listed below (I am an obsessive person). Don’t dump your copper saturated water or pickle into street drains, sewers, lakes, streams, brooks, cricks, brooklets, braces, aqueducts, pools, swimming pools, kiddie pools, reservoirs, lochs, mill ponds, sluices, tarns, firths, canals, oceans, inland seas, basins, water towers, holding tanks, puddles, the high seas, the 7 seas, narrows, Davy Jone’s Locker, sounds, straits, coves, gulfs, fjords, sounds, inlets, everglades, bogs, tributaries, creeks, rivulets, runnels, marshes, swamps, springs, sinkholes, bayous, bays, harbors, estuaries, channels, lagunas, lagoons, or your bath water, etc. for gawds sake! Dispose of your pickle in an earth-friendly, ethical fashion. Please.
Before disposing of your pickle you should neutralize it. This is done by adding a base (generally baking soda) to the pickle. My recommended steps are as follows:
- Wear protective gloves and a face mask or goggles.
- In a large (preferably) plastic bin, bucket, tank, sink – large enough to completely hold your pickle pot in and the container you are pouring the used pickle into. Of course, in my description of how I just changed my pickle, I did all this in my stainless steel kitchen sink. Bad dog.
- You might want to have a bowl (jewelry only)handy, filled with a water and baking soda solution (a couple of cups of water to a small handfull of baking soda), for spills and neutralizing the filters. See #4.
- Using either a funnel or a Melitta and a Melitta filter, filter out any waste products from the pickle.
- Fold the filter over, to seal in the debris, and dip in the neutralizing bath. Throw away.
- You may want to do this outside. Remember that homemade volcano project with vinegar and baking soda? Well, pickle and baking soda do the same thing. I used to neutralize, right in my pickle pot but, it always bubbled over the top and got everywhere. But, I have learned (yes, I have) that, if you neutralize your pickle in a large container, it doesn’t bubble all over the place. The 2.5 gallon water jug worked great for me. I am much happier now that I’ve discovered this fact!
- If you are taking the liquid, neutralized pickle to the hazardous waste store (ahem), or are storing it for a while, ensure that your container has a plastic – not metal – lid. Metal lids will be eaten by the pickle.
- Label the container as poisonous and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to write what is in the container. I like to draw a skull and crossbones on the container too! Drawing practice and safety practice, all in one fun exercise. (I need to get out of the studio more often!)
- Keep the top off until it is fully neutralized – let it sit for a bunch of hours. Because, the gases that are being released will build up and possible blow. Not good.
- Figure out your method of disposal: evaporation, leaving it in its liquid state, or removing the copper ions with steel wool.
- Contact your local waste management company for their requirements and practices.
- Store evaporating pickle away from all living things – especially: animals and children. Keep the entire mess away from nature in general.
My recent Pickle Changing Experience
WARNING: PLEASE READ THE UPDATED INFORMATION AT THE END OF THIS SECTION! I just replaced my, almost 1 year old pickle. I took photos of some of the processes I went through. Mind you, I’ve done this a whole heck of a lot of times but, this is my first “documented” pickle change-out. Thought I’d share.
My murky, filthy but, still working pickle. I changed it because I was getting a silvery coating on all the copper that I pickled. My suspicion is that it was free-floating zinc, no doubt present, because of a couple of pieces of brass that were left in the pickle a wee bit too long. I’m going to record the date, of the pickle change so that I’ll have an official record: 8/10/15 (I think). It’ll be interesting to see when I’ll next be changing the pickle (at least to me). UPDATE: As of today, 12/28/20, I have not changed my pickle once since August 2015! I’ve topped it off with distilled water and strained out the glop on the bottom but, that’s it! Amazing. Over 4 years!
Working with cold pickle, I strained out the goop that was in the bottom of the pot. I used a Melitta and Melitta filters. I went through six, or so, filters because they became clogged with debris and didn’t drain fast enough for my busy self. Here’s a shot of one of the filters:
The entire procedure was done in my kitchen sink. I rinsed and scrubbed the sink and counters after the pour because I didn’t want to poison anyone, nor did I want the acid to eat away at my sink or counters. Prior to all this, I moved all sponges, dishes, and foods so that there was nothing nearby to get contaminated by the pickle. I would prefer to do perform the pickle changing in a laundry sink but, alas, I don’t have one.
I used a 2.5 gallon, plastic water jug. I cut a tab in the top to accomodate the Melitta and, to allow air to enter the container, later. My method of disposal will be evaporation and recycling of the crystallized copper. So, air circulation is essential.
I mixed the baking soda in a 2 cup measuring cup – a few tablespoons to the 2 cups of water. I slowly poured the mixture into the pickle, allowing it to be neutralized in small doses. I mixed up another 2 cups of neutralizer and slowly added that too. It took me about 20 minutes to fully neutralize the pickle. You can tell when it’s done: if you add baking soda and it doesn’t bubble, it’s neutralized.
UPDATE: DON’T USE THIS TYPE OF CONTAINER!!!!!! MINE LEAKED EVERYWHERE! I HAD ACID ALL OVER MY COUNTER TOPS AND HAD TO MAKE UP A GALLON OF BAKING SODA TO POUR EVERYWHERE. IT TOOK ME HOURS AND HOURS TO CLEAN THIS UP!!!! BE SURE TO USE A CONTAINER WITH A NON-METALLIC TOP TOO.
I’m now cooking up a batch of citric acid pickle to see if I like it or not. I’ll let you know what I think. Back to Table of Contents
For additional Research
- American Elements: Copper Sulfate CuSO4
- Britannia.com. Hydrogen Peroxide: Chemical Compound. Written by the Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Web. Date unknown.
- Copper.org for information on copper, copper sulfate, and other copper-related information.
- Educate-Yourself.org. Articles on Hydrogen Peroxide. Compiled by Ken Adachi. Web. Date unknown.
- Ethical Metalsmiths.org. Quote from their site: “Mission: Lead jewelers and consumers in becoming informed activists for responsible mining, sustainable economic development and verified, ethical sources of materials used in making jewelry.”
- Ganoksin: Pickling Notes by Charles Lewton-Brain. Web. 2007.
- Hoover and Strong: Pickle: Cleaning up after Soldering by Sara M. Sanford, Web. January 1, 2008.
- Myfunhealthylife.hubpages.com. Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide and its Uses. Daniel Carter. Web. 7/18/13.
- Northstar Chemical – Sodium Bisulfate 25%. Web. 2013.
Non-USA Suppliers of Pickle
Suppliers for European, Asian, African, Australian (and many, many others) locations, please see my webpage: Suppliers Outside the USA.
- All About Solder – You need to understand what you are working with!
- Annealing Wire – Want broken wire? How about melted wire? Need your wire soft and bendable? These tips will help you to avoid the problems and create nice, workable metal!
- Beginning Jewelry Projects: Making and Soldering a Pearl Ring. You’ll learn how to make a ring shank, solder it, create a cup and a post to hold a pearl and how to set a pearl. Techniques covered: forming, soldering, finishing, setting a pearl, and a lot more.
- Beginning Jewelry Projects: Making and Soldering a Pendant. Want to challenge yourself? Need some soldering practice? This is a great starter project. I cover the basics of construction (but, not sawing or finishing – see my other videos – listed below.) and soldering in this video.
- Creating Consistently Sized Spheres – how do you make perfectly round spheres? You might need to know!
- DIY Fume Extractor for the Studio or Shop – One of the BIG ONES for studio safety. Learn to make your own!
- Flat Square Edges on Metal – Important techniques for creating square edges like on ring shanks, tubing, settings, etc. – pretty much any two pieces that you want to solder together!
- Getting Ready to Solder – Important steps before you solder.
- How to Anneal Silver Sheet – an important skill to have otherwise, you can damage your metal and work twice as hard!
- How to Make a Bezel and Set a Cabochon Part One and Part Two – Want to solder thin material too thick? Want to set a stone or two? Learn how to create and solder bezels.
- How to Set Up a Torch – have a torch, need to set it up? Here’s how.
- Identify Wire Solder – Mark your solder before confusion reigns!
- Jewelry Studio Safety – Extremely important information that every jeweler should know! Don’t risk your life or your health! Know the dangers of metal dust? If not, don’t sand anything – yet!
- My YouTube Soldering Playlist – A list of all my soldering videos on YouTube.
- Soldering 101, part one and Soldering 101, part two
- Soldering Jewelry: How to solder settings, bails, and wire. – We solder dissimilar shapes and sizes of metal together, all the time. Want to stop melting your settings or bails? Can you solder wire without melting it?
- Soldering Jewelry – Sweat, Flush, or Applique Soldering – How to solder two pieces of metal on top of each other. Learn tricks for the successful joining of dissimilar sizes and how to apply solder.
Related Web Pages
- The 4 Steps for Successful Soldering – The 4 steps will help you to achieve soldering success!
- About Solder – Learn all about the material you use.
- Acetylene, Torch, Tanks, Safety – A huge page with so much more than info on Acetylene! Learn all about torches, soldering and how to protect yourself!
- Charts – Soldering related charts. Includes things like annealing temps, compressed gas valve sizes, what temperature does your gas burn at, what are the melting points of your metal. Also, there are wire gauge charts, millimeter to fractions and inches charts, drill bits to wire gauge charts. Lots of information!
- Cleaning Metal – nice to know if you plan on soldering anything!
- On Pickle, Acid, Crock Pots, and Baking Soda – How to remove the schmutz left from soldering, how to make your own pickle, how to use pickle and how to neutralize pickle. Tons of info!
- Oxidation, Flux, and Fire scale – Why does oxidation occur? Why do you keep getting fire scale, how do you get rid of it? Learn the whys of what is happening when you solder and the solutions.
- Identifying Wire Solder – How to mark your solder so that you always know what type it is.
- Jewelry Tools – Harbor Freight – Cheap tools for the studio!
- Miter Cutting Vise and Jig: Having a hard time squaring up the ends of your ring shanks? Check out this tool!
- Recipes: They aren’t just for cookin’ anymore!
- Pickle Recipe – make your own pickle
- Prip’s Flux Recipe – make your own flux
- Removing Broken Drill Bits From Your Metal -snapped your drill bit and can’t get it out? Here’s how to remove broken drill bits.
- Removing Copper Flashing i.e.: How to remove the copper coating you might get from pickling. Also, how to remove copper from brass or bronze that comes to the metal’s surface after soldering.
- Soldering in a Nutshell – my list of basic necessities for soldering.
- Wire and Sheet Metal – Information on the material you are working with. Know thy metal!
- What Torch to Buy: Trying to figure out what your soldering needs are? Check out this information before you buy!
Questions and Answers Related to Soldering:
- Q&A: Annealing – How long to hold your annealing temps. Kiln annealing.
- Q&A: Firescale/Firestain – See what others have had problems with and find the solutions!
- Q&A: Soldering Questions – One of the most asked after subjects. Many of my web pages have been inspired by soldering issues and questions.
- Q&A: Torch/Gas Questions – Portable vs. regular torches, problems with the torch, learn about butane torches, water torches, how to set up a torch safely, buying torches.
- Q&A: Wire Questions. Balling up wire, tapering wire, work hardening wire, straightening wire and more!