How to Recycle Silver
Before discarding that trimmed silver piece from your jewelry creation, think about how you can recycle it. Many crafters use silver wire to wrap jewelry or cut pieces out of sheets of silver. What happens to the small corners and millimeters of wires that you cut off? Keep your scrap and imperfect pieces and recycle them into usable silver pieces, or sell them to a foundry for recycling. None of your supplies will go wasted if you mess up a piece – and you will have more materials for future creations.
Things You'll Need
Scrap silver wire
Carbon soldering block
Scrap silver sheets
Melting Down Scrap Wire into Small Bars
Gather your scrap wire. Put the wires together into small bundles. The wires should be 3 to 4 inches in length, and each bundle should average around 10 wires. Tie the bundle together with a scrap piece of wire.
Place the bundle of wire onto a carbon soldering block that has a 3-inch groove. Melt the silver with a soldering torch. Sweep the torch from one end of the wire to the other to melt and shape it. If you have a specific shape you would like the bar to form – a wavy bar or a bar with balls on the end – you can shape it now.
Remove the torch when you are satisfied with the shape. Pick the piece up with tweezers and drop it into cold water. Take the silver out of the water after a few minutes.
Melting Down Scrap Wire into Balls
Use a soldering torch to melt the wire. Move the torch back and forth to disperse the heat until the wire turns into a molten sphere.
Look to see when the sphere takes a mirror finish and is a perfect ball. Turn off the torch.
Pick up the ball with the tweezers and drop it into cold water. Remove the ball after a few minutes.
Repeat the process for the next ball.
Melting Down Scrap Wire and Sheets into a Free-form Pendant Mount
Gather your scrap silver wire and sheets. Weigh out 1 ounce.
Place the scrap onto a smooth or rough soldering block. The surface choice will depend on your desired finish. If you wish the silver to form a specific shape, carve it 1/8-inch deep into the soldering block, as the silver will take on the shape of the block.
Take the soldering torch and move it over the silver. Hold your carbon paddle next to the silver and run the torch over the paddle as well. Flip the paddle intermittently so that both sides of the paddle receive heat. The paddle has to be hot so it does not crack the silver when touched.
Press the paddle into the silver after it becomes molten. Gently press the paddle down to manipulate the silver into the desired thickness. Remove the torch when you are satisfied.
Pick up the silver with the tweezers and put it into the cold water for a few minutes to cool.
Recycling Silver with a Foundry
Gather all of your silver together. These pieces can be very small wires, corners of sheets or they can be jewelry pieces that you created erroneously. You can also send other types of silver when recycling with a foundry such as, chains, clean silver filings or flatware.
Free the silver of any adhesives and debris by wiping them down with a damp soft cloth. Remove any stones that may still be attached.
Sort your items. Put all of your sheet silver and wire in a zip-top bag and the other items in another bag.
Send these items to a foundry per their instructions. Most will give you exact instructions on how to pack the silver, how to send it and what to expect.
Receive a payment after the foundry has weighed and accepted your silver.
Check to see if your supplier has its own foundry or recycling program, as many offer such.
Use caution when soldering and working with molten metals, and keep out of the reach of children.