20 May, 2011

How to Melt Precious Metals

Jewelry making often requires custom-created bases made with precious metals. You can get the metal from a variety of sources, such as old jewelry, scrap pieces, even coins or ingots, but no matter the source you'll still need to melt it down for use. For the small piece maker, a full jeweler's bench setup may be too much equipment and expense, but anyone can melt precious metals inexpensively with a rented acetylene torch, a jeweler's crucible and a few small tools.

1. Weigh the metal for melting, clean it with warm soapy water to remove any dirt or debris and pat it dry.

2. Create the flux by mixing equal parts sodium carbonate and borax in a glass jar. The mixture helps to collect impurities from the melting metal, separating them from the final melted piece.

3. Place the metal into the crucible and add a teaspoon of flux per ounce of metal. Set the crucible onto a heat-resistant surface set up in a fireproof enclosure. Place the graphite mold into which you will pour the precious metal after melting onto the surface as well.

4. Check that the valves on the oxygen and acetylene tanks are securely closed. Hook the acetylene torch nozzle to the oxygen and acetylene tanks. Place a pair of welding gloves onto your hands, and then put on the UV-safe welding faceplate for glare protection.

5. Turn the acetylene valve onto the "on" position, and light the gas with the striker. Turn the oxygen valve on slowly as the gas begins to burn orange-red. Increase the oxygen until the flame burns blue and floats just off the acetylene torch's tip.

6. Point the nozzle of the torch towards the metal, and press the torch trigger to increase the flow of the gas. Move the flame, shortened with the increased gas flow, over the sides and bottom of the metal until it liquefies in the crucible.

7. Release the trigger, shut off the oxygen valve and then the acetylene valve to turn off the torch. Use the crucible tongs to lift the crucible containing the melted metal, and then pour the metal into the graphite mold. Return the crucible to the surface for cooling. Wait for the metal to cool into a solid with the flux containing the impurities cooling to an easily-removable layer on top. After cooling, pop the metal free from the mold for use.

Thanks to eHow again and again!

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