To celebrate Earth Day in April we invited Christine Dhein to give us some jewelry studio tips in this guest blog. Christine is the Assistant Director at the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco. She is also the founder of the Green Jewelry News digital newsletter.
Examining jewelry soldering practices in the studio is one of the best opportunities for reducing environmental impact. Here are some less-toxic alternatives for jewelers to protect your health, the environment and to reduce chemical use. Below are some simple tips to get you started.
- Finding Less-Toxic Alternatives – The most commonly used studio chemical is pickle. Options that are less toxic to jewelers during use include citric acid pickle, (available from major suppliers) and vinegar and salt. For the latter, mix one cup of vinegar to one teaspoon of salt or slightly more, if required. Use either solution warm with proper ventilation and follow proper disposal procedures, outlined below. Find other less-toxic alternatives at www.silversmithing.com/1altern.htm
- Reduce Pickle Consumption: Use a Small Pickle Pot – For most jewelers, the volume of pickle required is very small. Try using a small (2-3 cup) pickle pot to reduce chemical use.
- Be Kind to Your Pickle Solution: Make it Last! – To keep solution strong, avoid introducing baking soda. Rinse tongs, baskets, and jewelry from neutralizing bath before returning them to the pickle. As water evaporates, add more water. If the pickle is weak, add more acid. With care, pickle solution can be used for many months to a year before replacing.
- Practice Proper Disposal – Each region is governed by different requirements for hazardous waste disposal. After being used in jewelry manufacture, even less-toxic pickle alternatives contain copper. Copper is a heavy metal, considered hazardous, and must be disposed of properly. Neutralizing pickle will not remove the copper. All oxidizers are also hazardous materials, containing heavy metals. Collect hazardous materials in clearly labeled plastic containers with tight lids for storage in the studio and during transportation to disposal facility. Consider evaporating liquids to reduce storage volume.
Green Jewelry News is an, electronic newsletter, founded by Christine Dhein, designed to keep jewelers, industry professionals, and students up to date with “green” news, events, and exhibitions along with eco-friendly studio practices and tips for daily living. To subscribe, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Green Jewelry News Subscribe” in the subject. Also, find us on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Green-Jewelry-News/238129319588206