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Greener Jewellery – Vinegar vs. Citric Acid.

It’s time to switch from a strong chemical pickle in my workshop to a more friendly alternative which has less impact on the environment and is easier to dispose of. Now the question is what is my best alternative?

Citric acid powder

I have heard that people are using vinegar with salt, or citric acid, instead of the usual jewellers’ choice; sodium bisulphate. This afternoon I did a quick experiment to see which gives the best results in the shortest time.

I used this recipe that I found for the vinegar solution: 1 cup of white vinegar with 1 tablespoon of salt. I dissolved the citric acid powder in warm water until it was saturated.

after soldering

I had some large silver jump rings to solder so I set up a bowl of hot citric acid and a bowl of hot vinegar solution.

After quenching my jump rings I put one in each pickle solution and waited.

Of course it took longer than the sodium bisulphate but after a couple of minutes it was clear that the vinegar was cleaning the silver quicker.

Citric pickle on the left: Vinegar on the right.

Ten minutes later and these were the results. I tried the test again in the interest of fairness and found the same.

Vinegar wins! Anyone know of anything better?