Melting Silver

Heating Stages of Silver: A Photo Journey

Last week, we discussed annealing, what it's used for, and the easiest way to tell if you have heated the sterling silver enough that you can resume working with it. Well, you might be thinking to yourself, what happens if I overheat it? This is an excellent question! It is important to be aware of the various heating stages involved when working with sterling silver so that you can tell when you need to back off and don't accidentally melt the piece you're working on.

To start off with, you want to make sure that you’re heating evenly. This is what it should look like when you first apply heat

As you carry on heating, you may notice the color of the metal change slightly and start to go white (approx. 1100 Fahrenheit). It can even look gold-toned for a bit and eventually will start to darken to black

When it starts looking salmon-ish (approx. 1300 Fahrenheit), you may want to consider backing off your heat a bit

This is the bright orange stage and you really need to back your heat off at this point. A pitted texture known as ‘orange peel’ will start to form on the surface of the metal, and while it’s fairly easy to clean up, it’s still annoying

And now you’re in for it. At this point you’ve hit optimum melting temperature (1640 Fahrenheit) and there’s really no coming back from that

You really might as well just carry on and melt the thing the rest of the way at this point. At least you can save the melted blob of silver and turn it in with the rest of your scrap!

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