Solder, which is used to bond pieces of metal together, is generally supposed to be permanent. However, you may wish to separate two pieces of soldered metal, whether to restore an old piece of jewelry or to correct a damaged part. Removing solder can sometimes be tricky, and methods range from physical chipping and filing to chemical treatment. Older gold jewelry pieces are often soldered with lead solder, which must be chemically removed to avoid damaging the surface of the gold piece.
Things You'll Need
- Gold Piece
- Baking Soda
- Hydrochloric Acid
- Small Pyrex Container
- Fine Grit Sandpaper
- Safety Goggles
- Hot Plate
- Chemical Storage Jug
- Vapor Respirator
- Cooking Pan
- Jewelry Files
File and sand down as much of the solder as you can without touching the surface of your gold piece. This will make the chemical removal of the rest of the solder slightly easier.
Fill a cooking pan with water, and place it on top of a hot plate. Put on a pair of safety goggles and a vapor respirator.
Prepare a solution of 50 percent water and 50 percent hydrochloric acid. Put the solution in a small Pyrex or other heatproof container.
Place the Pyrex container in your cooking pan. Turn on the hot plate and wait until the acid solution begins to steam.
Put your gold piece into the Pyrex container, submerging it completely. Turn off the hot plate.
Let the gold piece sit in the acid solution for 12 hours.
Remove the gold piece from the acid solution. Rinse it in water.
Make a paste from water and baking soda, and rub it all over your gold piece to neutralize the acid. Rinse the paste from the gold piece.
Pour your hydrochloric acid solution into a jug for storage.
Work outdoors or under a ventilation hood, as hydrochloric acid gives off toxic, poisonous fumes. Avoid contact with the acid.
Follow all fire safety precautions with the hot plate.
Do not use a metal container to heat your acid solution, as the metal will react with the acid.
A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.