Jamie Hascall 7/16/18
Hi all. I’d like to ask the members of the group about the current use of pickle in brass mount fabrication at your shops. I had mostly curtailed its use in my shop, partly due to the mess, but mostly due to concerns about proper disposal of used pickle that would obviously contain a lot of heavy metals. I worked on methods to physically clean surfaces with abrasives, and now use a glass bead blast cabinet almost exclusively on all mounts. The reason I ask is that in teaching classes on mountmaking, I feel I should include this as part of the practice in silver brazing. I’ve also learned effective and inexpensive disposal techniques from the King Co. Office of Hazardous Waste Disposal, and that has made me less reticent to use pickle again. I thought I’d see what the current practice is before I mix up a five gallon bucket as we have always done. Your thoughts are appreciated. Best regards, Jamie Jamie Hascall Craftsman, Trainer, Consultant Seattle, WA
Jamie,Thanks for bringing this often after thought of our world in mount-making, a curator in our invertebrate dept. made me aware of the heavy metal contaminants one day on a casual conversation. I always have mix a small amount of pickle solution base on the amount of work I'll be doing and I try to keep it in seal chemical containers using it until it becomes to weak. At this point I add some water with baking soda to neutralized the acid and then it goes to a plastic bucket with lid for disposal with our hazardous material. We have a service that comes once every year. I have not looked at any other options at this time due to cost but I would be interested on learning more about the sand blasting technique. Thanks for the discussion,Emilio
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How do you dispose of the heavy metals in the glass bead?
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Jamie Hascall 7/16/18
That’s a good question Philip, and exactly why I brought the subject up. At this time, I have only used about 1/2 bag of glass bead, and all the used bead is stored. I had not considered it to have a heavy metals contamination as I mostly felt that what was being blasted off was glassified flux and surface oxides and soot. From my understanding of the process, I felt most of that was being pulled off into the vacuum system and was being disposed of in the trash with the vacuum spoils. You now have me re-thinking that as well. I’d appreciate any insights you may have on what level of contamination glass bead may have or produce, as well as your thoughts on pickle. Thanks, Jamie
I met Julia Lowther briefly at the Metchosin School of the Arts here in BC and she happens to have a very complete description of how she disposes of her pickle – which she learned from the local hazardous waste management program in King County, Washington, so this is probably what you do already, Jamie?
I wonder how much copper would be removed by steel wool?
- Kate Kerr
Jamie Hascall 7/16/18
Hi Kate, Thanks for posting that link. It is the method that I too learned from Dave Waddell of King Co Hazardous Waste. I had that exact link set up to post and I encourage everyone to watch it. The important thing about this method is that the use of Slaked Lime sequesters the metals into an insoluble carbonate that can be safely disposed of. Learning this method is why I actually feel interested in using pickle again. In response to your question about steel wool, I don’t believe it would remove a significant amount of copper from the solution. Moreover, I’m also concerned about the zinc and lead, as well as flux by products that will also be part of the cocktail . The slaked lime to carbonate method locks them all up and creates a stable compound that can be easily disposed of. The King Co Art Hazards program that Dave set up is very interesting and you can check it out at .
Great topic! For a few years, I've been using , which is said to be "non-harsh" and can be disposed of in "household drains" according to the box. When it's time for a new batch, I do what Emilio does: add baking soda to neutralize and have our Hazardous Waste Pick-up take it. The water in DC is already pretty bad, I certainly don't want to add to it! What type of sand blaster/bead blaster do you use? Is it faster than a pickle? My issue is the need for speed, I have such a large work load, I don't know that I'd have time to blast each mount. Laura
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Jamie Hascall 7/17/18
Hi Laura, PickleIt and Sparex#2 are two brands of Sodium Bisulfite marketed as metal pickle. They are safely disposable in their basic form as the other major use of Sodium Bisulfite is as toilet bowl cleaner. However once used, the dissolved metals are what make it not so friendly. Neutralizing with baking soda will raise the pH to a more neutral state, but doesn’t change the dissolved metals content. The disposal method using slaked lime (pickling lime) that I learned truly sequesters the metals, and is a more complete way to dispose of used pickle. Julia Lowther posted an article on her site that captures the process well. The reason I started this thread was that the pickle buckets at the museums I’ve worked at have hung around for years and have been so obviously contaminated that disposal by pouring down the drain was unthinkable, but often happened anyway. To answer you