Soldering Basics


SilverWorks Studio 2: hot metal


What is “annealing”?

Annealing is making the metal malleable by heating it. It opens up the crystal structure of the metal. Annealing is the opposite of work hardening.

How do you anneal?

With a medium flame (blue cone approx 1/2 inch long) brush the metal. Watch for the color change: gold, then black, then “cherry red”(dull glow). Let cool to black. Then using tweezers, toss the metal into the pickle. Take out with copper tongs. Rinse in water, dry.

What is the actual anneal temperature?

1100 F.

Why do you anneal?

To make it malleable and to make it clean (pickle) for soldering.

How do you turn on the torch?

With the torch straight up in the air (very important) turn the dial towards you and listen for a “polite” little hiss. With striker placed in the path of the gas create a spark to ignite the flame.


What is pickle?

Pickle is an acid solution used in annealing. It is approx 1 to 10 ratio of powder to water.

What is the pickle made of?

Sodium bisulfate + water = sulfuric acid

Why do we pickle the metal?

Pickling keeps the metal clean to prepare it for soldering.

Why do we call it “pickle”?

Because we used to use vinegar.


What is soldering?

Soldering is the act of connecting two pieces of metal together using solder.

What are the steps to solder?

  1. 1.Create a “no daylight” seam. Whatever you are connecting should have no gaps.

  2. 2.Stage appropriately on the block, or pumice pan. Again “no daylight”.

  3. 3.Flux: Depending on the stage can determine when to flux. A ring you may stage the solder underneath and then flux. A chain (link in the air) you would flux the seam first and then place the solder.

  4. 4.With a bushy (small) flame dry the flux. You will see an orange flash.

  5. 5.With a medium flame heat the metal evenly. The solder will flow toward the hottest part of the metal.

  6. 6.Once soldered, use tweezers to quench into the pickle.

  7. 7.Take out with copper tongs and rinse in water.

  8. 8.Dry.

What is solder?

Solder is silver that has a slightly lower melting temperature than the sterling.

Different flow temperatures

Hard: 1450 F

Med: 1360 F

Easy: 1325 F


What is flux?

Flux is an acid (boric) and acts like the pickle. It keeps the solder and seam clean when heating it with the torch. It come in paste and liquid.

GOOD PRACTICE: Always have the torch in the air when lighting, turning off, or changing the temperature.