Safer Alternatives (Updated 6/12/2014)
© Jeffrey Herman


The Society of American Silversmiths, its members, editors, contributors, and executive director disclaim any responsibility or liability for damages or injuries as a result of any construction, design, use, manufacture, restoration & conservation advice, or other activity undertaken as a result of the use or application of information contained on this Web site and all other Society publications. Before using ANY chemical, read the instructions and ask for an MSDS (Manufacturer's Safety Data Sheet).

This page will be updated as safer supplies and methods are discovered.

Acid Neutralizer/Abrasive (Non-Toxic, All-Natural)
Buffing Compounds (Less-Toxic)
Contact Cement (Non-Toxic, Non-Flammable)
Degreaser (Non-Toxic, All-Natural)
Firescale Preventive (Less-Toxic)
Fluxes (Less-Toxic, Chloride-Free) 
Lacquer Stripper (Less-Toxic)
Lubricant (Non-Toxic, All-Natural)
Pickle (Less-Toxic)
Respirators (Half-Face)
Manufacturer Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)


Acid Neutralizer/Abrasive (Non-Toxic, All-Natural)

Baking Soda
Less irritating than household cleansers, can be used with the scratch brush,
and to neutralize pickle.
Hardware stores, supermarkets, drug stores

Buffing Compounds (Less-Toxic)

Finishing: C–3568 Alumina Compound
Use on non-ferrous metals and plastics—color is not as dark as red rouge, but safer.

Cut-Down: 303 Alumina Compound
Cuts like bobbing compound, but is much drier. 
JacksonLea, 1705 Conover Boulevard East, Conover, NC 28613, 800/438-6880, Jewelry supply houses

Contact Cement (Non-Toxic, Non-Flammable)

Elmer's Saf-T Contact Cement
Water-based and very effective.
Borden, Inc., Columbus, OH 43215, hardware stores

Degreaser (Non-Toxic)

Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Pure Castile Soap
6 tbs. in a 6-quart crock pot—used warm, nice minty smell.
Dr. Bronner's, Inc., Escondido, CA 92033, health food stores

Firescale Preventive (Less-Toxic)

Dr. Frank's Fabulous Flux
Contains boric acid—sprayed on warmed objects, removed with warm water, compatible with Superior #6 Brazing Flux.
Paul H. Gesswein & Co., PO Box 3998, Bridegport, CT 06605, 800/243-4466

Fluxes (Less-Toxic, Chloride-Free)

Liquid Super-Safe Soft Soldering Flux
Used with solders that melt up to 450° F—organic.

Gel Super-Safe Soft Soldering Flux
Used with lo-flow solders—organic.

Superior #6 Brazing Flux
Active to 1,600° F—organic, removed with warm water, compatible with Dr. Frank's Fabulous Flux.
Distributor for Superior Flux: H & N Electronics, 10937 Rome Beauty Dr., California City, CA 93505, 760/373-8033

Lacquer Stripper (Less-Toxic)

Ready Strip
A non-flammable, biodegradable, non-combustible remover that won't harm silver. Contains no methylene chloride! It's heavy-based so it can be painted on the object without running, then washed off.
Back to Nature Products, Englishtown, NJ 07726, 732/792-2001, hardware stores

Lubricant (Non-Toxic, All-Natural)

Mineral Oil
Use this for drilling, machining, and as a wood preservative, especially cutting boards.
Hardware stores, super markets, drug stores

Pickle (Less-Toxic)

Citric Acid
Slowly add 1 cup per 10 quarts of water. I use the mixture cold. If used warm in a crock pot, ventilation is advised. Neutralized with baking soda. Remember, this is an acid!
Preferable: Reconstituted Lemon Juice (use full-strength)., 3040 Hill Ave., Toledo, OH 43607-2931, 888/285-5266

Respirators (Half-Face)

Chemical Respirator: 3M's #60926 Cartridges (updated 6/12/14)
Protects against fluorides, chlorides, gases, ammonia.

Toxic Dust Respirator: 3M's #2097 Cartridges (updated 6/12/14)
Use when polishing & grinding—very light-weight with a thin charcoal insert for nuisance smells. Always mark your respirator with the date the cartridges were installed.
3M Occupational Health & Environmental Safety Division, 3M Center Bldg., 275-6W-01, PO Box 3325, St. Paul, MN 55133, 800/243-4630, Safety supply houses

© Jeffrey Herman

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