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  • Recovering silver from plated brass?

    I have a number of silverplated items that seem to be brass with silver plated on (about 40 years old if that matters). I'd like to 1. recover the silver if it's worth it (I'm thinking it is probably a wash vis a vis cost vs. value) and 2. perhaps using the brass.

    The items are mostly serving trays etc., engraved as typical, so they are only worth a small effort to recover the sheet brass from. But, any ideas are welcome.

    On a related note, I need to make a silverplated (or reasonable facsimile thereof) lamp fitting. This would be a brass ring, with a thumbscrew, to hold up a lampshade on an imported silverplated lamp. Dims are about 1" od, .75" id (very approximate)

    If I can use the plated items to donate silver to the new part, that would be a bonus.

    So, to summarize, I'd like to
    1. salvage the silver if worthwhile
    2. salvage the brass (denuded of silver, if needed) as sheet stock
    3. silver plate a turned brass part using recovered silver

    without creating substances that can't be disposed of readily and safely.

    Ideas? Give it up?

    If it is pointless to recover this material, who can I give it to for recycling? I hate to see brass and silver end up in the landfill.... :-(

    Edit-if I melted the brass with silverplate attached, what effect could I expect on the quality of the resulting brass ingot? Is this worth messing with, should I save it for the brass foundry I will build someday, or what?
    Last edited by lunkenheimer; 05-18-2009, 09:56 PM. Reason: another question...

  • #2
    without creating substances that can't be disposed of readily and safely.
    That is the kicker. You will need at the least a sodium cyanide solution to silver deplate and replate brass. Sodium cyanide isn't exactly instant death but it is toxic and if treated improperly can degrade to give off cyanogen gas which is very toxic. There are some acid plating methods that work with silver but they aren't as effective and I'm not sure they can be used on zinc.

    if I melted the brass with silverplate attached, what effect could I expect on the quality of the resulting brass ingot
    Probably very little effect. There isn't enough silver to make much difference. It would take at least 1 to 2 percent silver to begin to affect the alloy much.
    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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    • #3
      more brass and silver Q's

      Regarding melted brass with silver plated on, does the silver have any real detrimental effect? I'd guess it would have some change of color, but are the other properties (strength, corrosion resistance, solderability, machinability, etc.) much affected? I'd guess that it would act something like leaded brass, but that is just a wild guess.

      I have a couple of pounds of this stuff so it's worth reclaiming in some manner, I think. I could pehaps use a jeweler's saw to cut off silver-plated shims if it's a suitable thickness :-)

      Also, any ideas on plating the new part? I thought about immersion tin (probably close enough color wise for the application) but silver would be nice....

      Edit-
      Are there any other easily available materials that would cosmetically match silver? Any idea where to get small chunks of 'German Silver'? Say, 1.25" dia rod x 3" long?
      Last edited by lunkenheimer; 05-18-2009, 10:28 PM. Reason: more Qs

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      • #4
        See if there are any manufacturing jewelers in your area who do silver plating. Or, find a plater who can do electroless nickel or bright nickel on brass.

        David
        Montezuma, IA
        David Kaiser
        “You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.”
        ― Robert A. Heinlein

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        • #5
          The silver is probably not worth the expense of salvaging. I have de-plated nickel with a mild acid solution and a battery charger, silver might work, it is worth a try.

          For supplies for plating small items, try Caswell Plating, http://www.caswellplating.com/
          Jim H.

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          • #6
            I have added silver (when it was cheap) to brass when melting it.
            It makes the metal extremely fluid and works great for intricate castings
            and does not turn the brass white. I went to about 5 %

            Rich
            Green Bay, WI

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            • #7
              Whenever I see factory made sterling jewlery priced $$$$ I remind myself that $14.00 worth (1 oz) would be enough to hurt like heck if you dropped it on a bare toe.

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              • #8
                The only way you will get one (troy) ounce of fine silver for $14 is to buy a lot more than one ounce. Sterling silver grain suitable for casting is about $50 per ounce in one ounce quantity.

                Just checked price, it's down to $30 per ounce.
                Last edited by Evan; 05-19-2009, 07:56 AM.
                Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Evan
                  The only way you will get one (troy) ounce of fine silver for $14 is to buy a lot more than one ounce. Sterling silver grain suitable for casting is about $50 per ounce in one ounce quantity.

                  Just checked price, it's down to $30 per ounce.
                  I'm not sure where you are buying your silver, but I always got mine for the going price plus manufacture costs(which isn't much) in any quantities, shapes/forms. If the going price is $14 an ounce, there is a bit of price increase for making the casting "beads", or drawing the wire, or forming the sheet or making the forms(tubing,etc).

                  I think you are way off in the actual cost of an ounce at today's prices.

                  Of course, I got my supplies through a smelting/jewelry supply company.


                  As far as reclaiming silver from plated brass, it would only be worthwhile if you had a dumpster packed full and sent it to a refinery. You wouldn't get back even nearly the actual value of the silver.

                  ..If you are correct, then I am a moderately rich man for the "bags" of silver casting grain I have.


                  ...but then, I have a big nose and I talk through it on occasion.....
                  Last edited by Deja Vu; 05-19-2009, 11:12 AM.
                  John M...your (un)usual basement dweller

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                  • #10
                    That is the price for just one ounce, as I said. Buy more and you get much closer to the market price. If you can get it for market price then so much the better. I would have to dig it up to do that well.
                    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                    • #11
                      The last time I bought sterling casting grain, I happened to get a very nice looking batch. Every grain looked like a perfect sphere and the same size. My immediate thought was if we were invaded by werewolves, I just had to set up the 12ga loading equipment, and those puppies would be in trouble. It looked like about #4 buck or maybe a bit smaller.
                      .
                      Mike

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                      • #12
                        I have a good buddy who is an industrial electrical contractor. He works on metal reclamation equipment, quarries, dairy processing plants, etc.

                        For many years, any defunct electrical items with silver, went into a box for later reclamation. Once reclaimed, the silver was then turned into commemorative coins he designed and gave as gifts to friends at Christmas time. After doing this for close to 20 years, he stopped about two years ago.

                        I was told by my friend that his recycler, located in CA, ceased silver reclamation due to new environmental regulations. I do not know if it was because the process used was to be stopped, or if it became non-cost effective due to newly mandated measures (or maybe he didn't want to give me any more coins ).

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Evan
                          That is the price for just one ounce, as I said. Buy more and you get much closer to the market price. If you can get it for market price then so much the better. I would have to dig it up to do that well.
                          Multiple websites selling .999 Silver bars are at roughly $15/ounce, and I didn't see any mention of miminum quantites at that price.


                          HTRN
                          EGO partum , proinde EGO sum

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                          • #14
                            Did you find any Canadian ones?
                            Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Evan
                              Did you find any Canadian ones?
                              Are you saying that your countrymen are ripping you off? Or is it some kind of government thing?
                              Paul A.
                              SE Texas

                              Make it fit.
                              You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!

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