Recycling Silver Scrap - WarmGlass.com

Recycling Silver Scrap

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Geri Comstock
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Recycling Silver Scrap

Postby Geri Comstock » Wed Feb 25, 2004 10:15 pm

FYI for those of you who work in metal and don't know about this...

I've found that many folks who are new to metals work don't know this so I'm passing this tip along.

For those of you who use sterling or fine silver in your work, I hope you save up your scrap and "recycle" it with a metals refiner. It definitely is worth it when you have enough (about 50 troy ounces or so is the minimum with the refiner I use, I think).

I recently gave my refiner almost 80 troy ounces of fine and sterling silver scrap. Today, I received from them about 46 ounces of brand new sterling sheet. 46 troy ounces is alot of sheet metal... a piece of 20 gauge sterling sheet that's about 3 ft. 7" long by 6" wide.

The difference in weight between what I sent in and what they sent me back are the weight after cleaning, the cost of refining, their profit, and the cost of shipping it back.

You can also recycle gold or platinum, if you generate a lot of scrap in those metals.

Hope this helps someone!

Geri

Dani
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Postby Dani » Thu Feb 26, 2004 12:48 am

Or consider learning how to cast your scrap silver.... cuttlebone castings are cheap and fun and might even make nice embellishments for fused glass bowls and dichroic jewelry. :idea:

Jerry Cave
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Postby Jerry Cave » Thu Feb 26, 2004 1:45 pm

Great post. Metal artists tend to save all their scrap, old polishing wheels etc. Recyclers take it all then burn off the non precious metal stuff. A local recycler remodeled their facility and even burned their old carpets extracting years of silver and gold particles. Ever wonder what your dentist does with all those gold teeth? Yep, metal recycler.

Good friends just cleaned their studio top to bottom. Vacuumed the floors etc. Hauled a couple of boxes of junk to the recycler. After the recycling fees, they netted nearly $900.

Geri Comstock
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Postby Geri Comstock » Thu Feb 26, 2004 1:54 pm

Dani wrote:Or consider learning how to cast your scrap silver.... cuttlebone castings are cheap and fun and might even make nice embellishments for fused glass bowls and dichroic jewelry. :idea:



That's a great idea, as long as the metal doesn't have any solder on it. I did some castings myself late last year with some of my scrap before I recycled it the rest.

If scrap silver has solder on it and you try to cast with it, you often end up with a less than wonderful casting...pitting and voids. Ugly. Been there, done that.



Geri

Jerry Cave
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Postby Jerry Cave » Thu Feb 26, 2004 2:55 pm

Not to mention that wonderful burned cuttlebone smell. A little fishy.... Amazing what you can do with an old skeleton.

Geri Comstock
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Postby Geri Comstock » Thu Feb 26, 2004 2:58 pm

Hmmmm...that gives me an idea for thedead mouse in the wall in a few weeks...

Laughing -

Geri

molly
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re: sterling recycling

Postby molly » Mon Mar 01, 2004 7:46 am

Hello all. I have tried melting my sterling scrap in the kiln, and all i ended up with was a "ball" of metal, even in the kiln. Tried it with a torch, and it literally FRIED. Any clues as to how to get a nice fluid melt? Should I have added some sort of flux? I need step by step directions here! LOL! Thanks, and have a great day.

Geri Comstock
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Postby Geri Comstock » Mon Mar 01, 2004 1:04 pm

Wha are you trying to accomplish by melting your scrap? Do you want to cast with it?

When centrifugal force casting, silver is melted to a liquid state in a small container with a torch. I've never seen it "fry", so I'm not sure what you mean by that. Once you melt silver, it has to be "pickled" to remove the oxidation, the black or grey surface.

Geri

molly
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Postby molly » Mon Mar 01, 2004 1:29 pm

I really just want to be able to melt it so that it is "fluid". I do not care if I have to do "freeform" designs with it, but when I "fried" it, it just turned black and kept it's original wire form. (IE, it turned inot charred black wire!) The other time it melted, but just rolled itself into a ball. What I am after is being able to melt it inot a "pool" of liquid. Steve suggested Borax flux. Any particular recipes? Would I mix it like I would for anti devit spray? I know all about pickling,as I have to pickle things after soldering them. I just have never been able to melt my scrap silver. As for WHY I want to do this, i do nto like waste! LOL! Thanks for any input.

Geri Comstock
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Postby Geri Comstock » Mon Mar 01, 2004 2:56 pm

molly wrote:I really just want to be able to melt it so that it is "fluid". I do not care if I have to do "freeform" designs with it, but when I "fried" it, it just turned black and kept it's original wire form. (IE, it turned inot charred black wire!)


Are you sure it was silver wire and not nichrome or steel wire or something else? That's very odd. I've never seen silver do that. What gauge was it? Could it have been really filthy dirty with oxidation? Did you flux it before you tried to melt it?

molly wrote:
The other time it melted, but just rolled itself into a ball.


Silver does that...it acts like small bits of glass when it's hot. It wants to form into a ball shape like water does in small drops. If you heat enough of it, it will form more freeform shapes...I've done that a few times when soldering something that started to melt...just kept heating it until it formed a free form shape.


molly wrote:
What I am after is being able to melt it inot a "pool" of liquid. Steve suggested Borax flux.


To melt it into a pool, you'll need a casting crucible to melt it in or a surface that can contain it and a whole lot of silver scrap to melt. There is a casting flux you can add to it, but that's to help remove impurities rather than making it flow into a "pool". Casting flux comes ready to use at jewelry supply stores. It's a dry powder. You just use a tiny little bit of it or you'll end up with a mess. It's really not necessary unless the metal is dirty.

Another thing is that you'll want to heat and pickle your metal before you melt it, to remove any impurities.

molly wrote:
As for WHY I want to do this, i do nto like waste! LOL! Thanks for any input.


I think you misunderstood my question...my question was mean to ask what you're planning on doing with it after you get it melted? Are you going to try to pour it into a mold and make a casting? Are you going to pour a billet and try to roll sheet from it? Are you going to do something else with it?

It helps me answer your question if I know what you're going to do with it once you get it melted; there is no single answer to this question. The answer depends on what you intend to do with the melted metal once it's melted.

Geri

Jerry Cave
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Postby Jerry Cave » Mon Mar 01, 2004 5:04 pm

I just made a deal for an ingot mold. A member on Orchid wanted to part with one. It's one of those tools I've been waiting for. :P
Instead of simply using scrap for casting, I'll "roll my own."

Geri Comstock
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Postby Geri Comstock » Mon Mar 01, 2004 5:56 pm

Hey Jerry - Let me know how this works for you. I tried it once about 7 years ago and ended up with a huge mess because I didn't take out the pieces with solder on them before I made the ingot. Yuck! I ended up recycling the whole mess.

If it works for you, maybe it will give me the oooooomph to try it again myself.

Do you have an eletric rolling mill? That would make it SO much easier. I used a handcrank one and after hours...still had a mess.

Laughing -

Geri

Jerry Cave
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Postby Jerry Cave » Mon Mar 01, 2004 7:04 pm

Geri -

I know several "hard core" jewelers who insist on rolling their own material. They begin with casting shot. I might might as well try it, right? No doubt it'll be more work than it's worth.


Electric mill? Oh I wish. Nope, hand crank. Even my draw plate is the manual type. Good grief, what am I doing!!!!

Geri Comstock
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Postby Geri Comstock » Mon Mar 01, 2004 7:56 pm

Jerry Cave wrote:Geri -

I know several "hard core" jewelers who insist on rolling their own material. They begin with casting shot. I might might as well try it, right? No doubt it'll be more work than it's worth.



Heh. I know some people who used to do it, but don't any more. I know a jeweler who still draws his own wire from melted down scrap. ARGH! Why? LOL. Do you do this or do you use your draw plate just to get thick wire thinner?

Jerry Cave wrote:
Electric mill? Oh I wish. Nope, hand crank. Even my draw plate is the manual type. Good grief, what am I doing!!!!


LOL. You're becoming a hard core jeweler.

Having tried to make my own sheet discouraged me from ever making my own mokemegane. LOL. I had that dream once after seeing some pieces down by someone from the orchid board who gave a presentation of his work at the Yuma Symposium.

I'm completely over that fantasy now. LOL. Hand rolling metals is hard work! LOL.

Enjoy your effort at it. It will be a learning experience, if nothing else. And make sure you anneal it frequently to make it easier. I don't think I annealed mine frequently enough and that's part of why it was so difficult to do. If nothing else, you'll have quite a set of arm muscles after doing this.

Laughing -

Geri

molly
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Postby molly » Tue Mar 02, 2004 7:41 am

I am a big "experimenter". If it were not for experimentation, I would never have mastered my lovely dichroic jewelry! I really just want to experiment with some silver scrap, melt it, and cold work it into some jewelry of some sort. I just see no point in tossing it out, and I am getting a pretty good bunch of it now. What type of flux do i need to melt it? What type of crucible, if any? Thanks!

Goldfinger
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Recycling Silver Scrap

Postby Goldfinger » Tue Mar 02, 2004 9:08 am

Molly: Go to http://www.ganoksin.com - Go the the Archives and do a search on
"melting silver". I'm sure their is a weath of information to be found.

Steve

Marilyn Kaminski
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Postby Marilyn Kaminski » Tue Mar 02, 2004 9:11 am

?? mokemegane. ??

Where's that dictionary Lauri has been wanting to develop?

- Marilyn (not a jeweler)

Jerry Cave
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Postby Jerry Cave » Tue Mar 02, 2004 11:44 am

Molly,


Borax is commonly used as a flux. You'll want straight Borax. You can still find it at many grocery stores. I believe the box is black and white.

molly
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Postby molly » Tue Mar 02, 2004 5:41 pm

I always have borax on hand, but how much water do I add to make a proper flux? And if I use it straight out of the box, how? Do i just mix some of the powder in with the silver? do you melt the silver with a torch? If so, what do you use for a surface? A soldering block? Mine is dirty, how would I go about cleaning it to get a good melt? Thanks for any help.

AVLucky
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Postby AVLucky » Tue Mar 02, 2004 6:44 pm

?? mokemegane. ??

Where's that dictionary Lauri has been wanting to develop?

- Marilyn (not a jeweler)


Mokume Gane: A Japanese technique in which layers of metals of contrasting color are fused, distorted, and then revealed. The image can be carefully controlled but is most common as a random woodgrain pattern.

--from The Complete Metalsmith by Tim McCreight


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