Do you have a large cache of silver that you don’t want? Do you believe it can still be put to good use? Are you reluctant to simply give your silver away or spend the time require to sell old fashion silver?
People can have a complicated relationship with silver items that they will no longer wear or use to decorate their home or dinner table. Things can be especially problematic if you have sterling silver that you have inherited or that has been given to you. In these instances, you may have highly personal reasons for wanting to get rid of the items.
Rather than give away or sell old silver you can recycle it. The easiest way to recycle silver is to melt it down and turn it into something else. If most of your silver consists of items that are not all that popular on the market, you can have them melted down and transformed into jewelry, kitchenware, and other objects that you find useful to keep or that can be easily sold.
Recycled silver—what it is exactly
Nearly all silver items are combined with other metals. Recycled silver consists of silver that is separated from the other metals that it is mixed with. This separated silver is then melted down and reused to make other silver products.
Recycled silver is still good
You may be concerned that once your silver sterling has gone through the recycling process it will not be as good. You should put this fear out of your mind. No purity is lost in the process of extracting silver from silver objects. At the end of the recycling process, you will still have pure silver.
The melting point of your silver will depend on its type. The most common kinds of silver and their melting points are as follows:
- 925 sterling silver – 890C
- Britannia silver – 940C
- 999 fine silver – 961C
How it works
Borax is the most commonly used compound in the melting of silver. It helps soften and dissolve the oxidized layer from the silver ore. Through this process, a fresh metal layer is exposed, which helps in reshaping the silver for further use. This is done without affecting the metal’s purity.
How to Melt Silver at Home
Step 1. Supplies and safety first
The first step is to gather all the supplies needed to melt the silver. The vendor you take your items to will have them on hand. A great many chemicals are given off throughout this process. Masks, gloves, and other safety gear are required. The silver should be melted in a well-ventilated area.
Step 2. Into the furnace
The silver should be placed inside a crucible, which is a small ceramic or metal container used to melt things at high temperatures. This crucible will then be placed in a furnace.
Silver chloride must then be placed in the crucible. The latter should be large enough to hold the metal when it starts boiling. It is also possible to use a blow torch to melt the silver into the crucible.
The time it takes for the silver to melt depends on the size and composition of your items.
Step 3. Borax mixture
Now comes the borax mixture. To make this compound, mix borax and soda in equal measure. Add the mixture to the crucible as the silver is cooking.
The person melting the silver may also add sodium nitrate until the metal begins to show. Care must be taken with sodium nitrate as it is a highly flammable chemical. Mishandling it can cause an explosion.
Step 4. Keep melting until…
The silver must be allowed to melt until the metal layer begins to show. After it starts boiling, the heat can be stopped and a graphite stir rod used to get rid of the slag from the molten substance. Slag consists of impurities that have melted along with the silver. It is important to get rid of it before proceeding.
Step 5. Pour
The person doing the job must then don heat resistant gloves. They will then use tongs to hold the crucible and pour the molten silver into a mold or cast. This must be done carefully if the silver is to be turned into the desired shape and form that you want.
Step 6. Let it sit
The molten silver must be allowed to sit in the cast so that it can set. This can take a couple of minutes. The person working through this process will know best when the silver has set.
After the metal has settled in the mold, it must be taken out with tongs and submerged in a bowl of water until it cools down and hardens. This is essential to getting the metal in the desired form.
Why can’t I melt the silver myself?
The answer is that you can melt down your own silver items. The steps described above can all be done at home. If you have a high-energy furnace at home or a blow torch, and if you have the other supplies and safety gear needed to melt down metal, then nothing stops you from doing this on your own.
You can also melt your own silver if you are a welder or work in some other trade-in which high-energy tools are used. If you have all the basics, all you will probably need to purchase are the right molds and casts and the borax compound.
However, you want to ensure that you get the right result. If your intention is to recycle your silver into items that you can sell or wear, and you are unfamiliar with the type of equipment and procedures used to melt metal, then you should let a professional carry out the job.
Here are some basic facts you should know about recycled silver and how silver is melted.
Recycled silver and the environment
If you are committed to doing your part to reduce carbon emissions, you may want to know some basic facts concerning the environmental impact of recycling silver.
The first thing you should know is that the process saves a large amount of energy and adds up to a significant reduction in carbon emissions. By recycling your old silver, you consume fewer raw materials. It may seem like a small thing, but it will have a big impact.
A huge amount of energy is sued to extract metal ore. Once the silver is ripped from the earth, it must undergo smelting and processing operation which emit even more greenhouse gases. Recycling silver will significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
There is another benefit to recycling that is not often pointed out and discussed. It is an unfortunate fact that some of the largest deposits of silver are located in fragile and vital ecosystems. One of the largest operations is in the Amazon rainforest. The silver mines in South America consume thousands of acres of land.
An insuperable number of trees have been cut down and burned over the years to clear space. This deforestation has destroyed the plant and animal wildlife in the Amazon rainforest, and this has, as scientists have recently discovered, had an effect on climate change worldwide.
It is easy to recycle your silver items
If you have decided to recycle your old silver, then you should make an effort to find other bits of silver pieces that you want to melt down and turn into something else. In addition to plates, forks, spoons, and jewelry, kitchenware, coins, electronics, and photograph frames can also be recycled.
The simplest and easiest way to get your items recycled is to take them to a silver dealer. You can find such vendors online. If they have the right equipment, you can get your stuff melted down and reconfigured into items that you can use yourself or sell for money.
Another option is to take them to a local jeweler or send them off to a jeweler that you trust. In this instance, your silver will be melted and recast into new jewelry. Depending on the quality of the silver, the jeweler may want to keep the new pieces to sell, in which case they will compensate you.
You can also have silver jewelry remodeled. If, for example, you have received a silver ring that you do not care for, you can have it melted down and turned into a silver bracelet.
Recycling silver has a future
The business of silver recycling is no longer on the commercial fringe. Some of the biggest brands in the world have become part of this movement. Pandora has said that 100% of its silver products will come from recycled silver by 2025. Even Walmart has gotten into the act and started silver recycling operations at select stores.
You have decided that recycling silver is the best option. Before you put your precious metal in the hands of another, you should know a little about what they will do with it. Here is what you need to know about how silver is melted.
You can make use of old or unwanted silver. Your best option is to recycle it. Doing so can yield silver items that you can wear, use around the house, or sell for good money. Recycling silver will also preclude you having to purchase more silver, which ultimately helps you reduce your carbon footprint.
The process of recycling silver begins with melting it down. This is best done with a borax compound. With the right tools and safety equipment, anyone can melt down and recast silver. For those unfamiliar with the equipment and processes used in metal melting, it is best to take the silver to an experienced and competent professional.