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Art Hazards

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Jewelry and Metalsmithing

Jewelers and metalsmiths may work with highly hazardous chemical products that can harm their health.

Hazardous products used in jewelry making:

  • Corrosive degreasers
  • Flammable cleaning solvents
  • Cancer-causing degreasing solvents
  • Toxic tarnish removers and sealants
  • Toxic solder and flux fumes
  • Corrosive etchants and pickle compounds
  • Corrosive and toxic patinas
  • Poisonous cyanide electroplating compounds

Protecting your skin and eyes

  • Wear gloves while working with flux to reduce the risk of dermatitis.
  • Wear chemical-resistant gloves when working with degreasers and solvents
  • Wear gloves, goggles and protective clothing when working with toxic and corrosive pickle, and patinas.

Protecting your lungs

  • Position your table top kiln, pickle pot and soldering station close to where air exits your studio to carry contaminants away.
  • Switch to water-based or water-washable materials to reduce toxic solvent vapors.
  • Keep liver of sulfur away from acids to prevent release of toxic sulfide gas
  • Protect your lungs when
    • removing the smoke plume from soldering and brazing
    • using a table top kiln
    • casting metals
    • using black patina.

Use safer choices

  • Use lead-free and antimony-free solder.
  • Don’t buy metal amalgam that contains mercury. Read the safety data sheet before buying.
  • Use fluoride-free flux like boric acid or fluoroborate compounds
  • Avoid degreasers with labels that contain the words flammable, toxic or corrosive.
  • Use properly diluted sodium bisulfate as a less toxic pickle.
  • Use pre-mixed lead-free enamels.
  • Avoid enamel frit and colorants containing arsenic and cadmium.
  • Use cyanide-free electroplating techniques.
  • Use liver of sulfur gel instead of pebbles to reduce waste and sulfide gas production
  • Keep containers closed to prevent spills of toxic liquids and powders.
  • Visit the Art Supplies page to learn safety warnings on product labels

We can help

Safely dispose of jewelry and metalsmithing wastes

  • Empty containers can be disposed in the trash once almost all the materials they held are gone.
  • Spent pickle is hazardous waste because it contains toxic metals that can’t go down the drain.
  • Corrosive cleaners and patinas are hazardous waste.
  • Scrap precious metals can be delivered to a reclamation company. They usually pay for the metal. Contact your jewelry supplier or visit our Waste Directory Website for more information
  • How to dispose of your art studio wastes