When getting started with silversmithing and making your silver jewellery from home you will need something called ‘pickle’ which is a mild acid solution (don't worry - it is VERY mild) that will clean up your piece after you have heated or soldered it.
You can create your own pickle at home using safety pickle granules, or you can even create a pickle solution using store cupboard ingredients!
1. Creating Safety Pickle
To make your own simple solution using safety pick granules, follow these instructions…
You will need:
- A jam-jar or heat resistant glass container (you could also use a designated slow cooker pot if you will be doing lots of pickling).
- Safety pickle granules
- Hot but not boiling water (so probably a kettle)
- Plastic or brass tweezers
1. Add a small spoonful of safety pickle granules into your clean jam jar. Use either a wooden or plastic spoon (not a metal one – steel reacts with the acid in the pickle).
2. Add a small amount of cold water followed by boiling water so that overall you have hot but not boiling water in your jar.
3. Mix the solution with your plastic spoon or tweezers until it has dissolved.
And that’s it – you can now pickle your piece.
When finished, simply let the solution cool down completely and then put the lid on and you can use the solution at a later date by warming up the solution.
The solution will work for as long as it stays hot so this is only a temporary solution. If you have lots of soldering to do you will need to keep the solution warm. You might want to invest in a small slow cooker or you can create a marie bain on your hob. To create a Marie Bain simply put a small amount of water in a saucepan (approximately 3-4 cms) and heat the water so that it is warm but not boiling. Place your jam jar containing your pickle solution into the warm water and let the solution come up to temperature. Keep an eye on the hob to make sure the water doesn't get too hot!
2. Creating DIY Pickle
And if you don't have any safety pickle to hand, you can create a pickle solution using ingredients from your store cupboard that is ecologically friendly.
You will need:
- A cup of white vinegar
- A tablespoon of table salt
- A teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide (optional)
- A glass of ceramic container (a jam jar works well). Do not use any metal container as the solution will damage it!
- Plastic or brass tweezers.
Similar to the Safety Pickle, one of the key components that really makes the DIY pickle work is heat. You can either place your mixture into a Marie Bain as described above, or use a crockpot. Put your pieces in the DIY mixture for up to 10 minutes and the firescale should fall off!
This is a great trick to use when you are not in your normal workshop or are just getting started!
Couple of safety tips about pickle:
Ideally you don’t want to get the pickle on your hands and clothes but don’t be afraid of it, it is a mild solution, just be sure to wash your hands or any area of your skin if you do get it on you at all. Avoid contact with eyes.
Always read the label on your safety pickle and follow instructions for mixing amounts.