Metalsmith Secret Cleaning Product

An in-between step that most metalsmiths skip over in their tutorials and descriptions is cleaning. Cleaning a piece (before or after soldering, during chasing and repousse to remove burnt pitch, before raising or planishing, etc) is pretty important. A lot of people use a “pickle” solution (usually some brand like Sparex, or a homemade recipe) to clean things. This involves waiting, or sometimes bad fumes if you use your pickle hot (which speeds up the pickle process). When doing chasing and repousse, I really don’t want to use my pickle for removing pitch residue anyway, because it makes a gooey glop build up in the solution.

Most of the time, I leave my pickle pot (a crock pot from Goodwill) off.  For the in-between cleaning steps I am a fan of the off-the-shelf cleaning product i get from the grocery store, Bar Keeper’s friend. (I am not compensated by the company and am in no way affiliated).

This handy cleanser removes oxidation and pitch residue easily with either a toothbrush or wire brush, and takes just a minute or two. It works great on copper and silver both. I did a little research to find that the magic ingredient is oxalic acid, which occurs naturally in foods like rhubarb and spinach.

It does a great job of cleaning my kitchen pots, too.