When it comes to precious metal, jewelry-making can be a serious investment, even for the hobbyist. Jewelers don't toss out the excess pieces of silver wire snipped from earring wires or the fine shavings made when filing metal. These bits of silver are saved and later recycled and melted into an ingot -- a solid brick of metal -- that later can be cut into sheets and made into wire for future projects.
Things You'll Need
- Ingot mold
- Acetylene torch
- Crucible with long handle
- Cast-iron skillet
- Soot from charcoal block or petroleum jelly
- Silver scraps
Prepare the ingot mold. Purify the mold by covering it with a layer of soot from a charcoal block, for example, or petroleum jelly.
Clamp the mold shut using the C-clamp. Place the clamped mold in the cast-iron skillet.
Heat the ingot mold with the acetylene torch for about a minute or two until the ingot is warmed.
Place silver metal scraps into the crucible. A crucible is a heat-proof vessel, usually made from porcelain, enabling it to withstand high temperatures.
Use a hot flame -- turning the torch to its maximum heat -- and hold the torch one to two inches from the silver scraps to heat them. Hold the torch in one hand and the crucible handle in your dominant "pouring" hand. Add a pinch of borax to the metal halfway through the melting process, about two to three minutes. This helps keep the metal from oxidizing.
Give the crucible a little shake as the metal starts to melt to mix in any solid pieces. Continue to apply heat to silver until it is molten and fluid. Some jeweler's refer to the molten metal as an "egg yolk" since the viscosity appears similar.
Pour the ingot. Continue heating the silver, now concentrating the flame on the spout or lip of the crucible until it's red hot. Pour the metal into the ingot with one fluid motion, while keeping the flame on the crucible.
Tips & Warnings
- When casting your first silver ingot, have a friend add in the borax so you can concentrate on holding the torch and the crucible.
- Once the ingot is cast, you can open the mold, but be sure to use tools or you may burn yourself.
- There may be some "glass" on the outside of the ingot. This is borax and it can be cleaned off of the ingot when you finish it.
- YouTube: Making a Silver Ingot at Home; Part I: Melting and Casting
- "Jewelry: Fundamentals of Metalsmithing"; Appendix C: Pouring an Ingot; Tim McCreight; 1997
- Photo Credit Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
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