Help! Really tarnished BA!
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Joined: September 02, 2003
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Location: Darwin, Australia

Help! Really tarnished BA!
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Posted on Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:34 am
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I'm sorry if this is a basic question and I feel like an idiot for asking but here goes:

I know about polishing up BA/bright aluminium in a tumbler, I know about buffing it up with a polishing cloth. I thought BA was pretty easy to clean up once you did the initial polish, and have sold it as such to customers as a cheap alternative to silver or steel.

Well, you should eat your own dog food, and I haven't much, I've tended to wear stainless or AA, but I wore a polished (TRL) BA and EPDM rubber choker one day. I come back to it a couple of weeks later, and the BA is really milky coloured. No amount of soap and water or rubbing with a polishing cloth will save it, and I'm hesitant to tumble it because of the rubber. However, ruining my choker isn't my real concern, it's telling customers that BA (as so many in the business say) is pretty much being easy to clean up with soap and water, or a polishing cloth.

Have others had this experience with BA?

I think it was my sweat that did it, and well, customers sweat. I am really hesitant to sell BA now, especially if it's mixed with AA or rubber. I guess I could tell them to wash it after use in the hope that it will help, but that reduces the "cheap & cheerful" or "can I wear this all the time?" factor, and ups potential complaints (haven't had any yet, but I haven't made & sold much BA yet...)

I assume there isn't some cleaning solution one can dip BA into? Some zinc solution or something using galvanised iron, to attract the oxide? Still, assume most customers don't have access to that, unlike the cleaning components for copper or silver.

(I really wish there was a perfect silver-coloured metal, I'm telling you, that wasn't really hard on the hands, allergenic, expensive, or tarnishable. I had thought it was BA.)

Joined: May 07, 2008
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Location: Germany, Herxheim

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Posted on Thu Aug 11, 2011 7:36 am
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Yeah, I made that experience as well.

I had made a BA necklace for my wife, to carry her wedding ring, as she isn't allowed to wear any jewellery at her hands at work. And she wore it quasi 24/7, not even doffing it when showering, so the necklace got its fair share of cleaning detergents. For a couple of months all was well, but somewhen the necklace began to tarnish to a dull, grayish, Galvy-like hue - and the chain left even blackish traces at her white work clothes, so a solution had to be found. Sad

Quick retumbling with Stainless ball shot, and a bit more Dawn as usual seemed to do the trick, it was like new after a couple of minutes. But it turned out that the necklace was gray again soon; after only a week the problem reappeared, even slightly worse as before. And a second retumble with a bit longer duration, and this time a slightly acidic medium as an experiment (no Dawn, but a bit lemon juice) didn't work - after a week gray again. Crying (very sad)

So I had to bite the bullet - I made a new necklace, this time from Niobium, anodized to an unobtrusive color at the transition point between light blue and yellow (somewhere in the 40V region). And this one remains stable, shiny up to today, after near to a year of continuous wear. Smile

-ZiLi-


Maille Code V2.0 T7.1 R5.6 Ep Fper MAl Ws$ Cpbsw$ G0.3-6.4 I1.0-30.0 N28.25 Ps Dacdejst Xagtw S08 Hip

Human societies are like chain mail.
A single link will be worth nothing.
A chain is of use, but will break at the weakest link.
A weak weave will have the need to replace weak links.
A strong weave will survive even with weak links included.
-'me

Joined: September 02, 2003
Posts: 115
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Location: Darwin, Australia

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Posted on Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:33 pm
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Well, it's good to know that the anodised niobium stays shiny! I just ordered some batches of niobium from Spiderchains and have quite a few in that mid voltage silver region and was wondering about that. The price for anodised niobium rings is not far shy of sterling silver, but I suppose if one had an anodiser and a jump ringer it would be somewhat cheaper.

Joined: September 02, 2003
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Location: Darwin, Australia

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Posted on Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:17 pm
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Just saying that the iPad as well as the iPhone doesn't seem to want to scroll down on this site. Lucky Post Reply is at the top of the page.

Another thought - clear anodised BA. Don't know if basic processes can yield the shiny though, considering the aluminum seems to be etched first like here: http://astro.neutral.org/anodise5.shtml

What I don't get is - why is BA so popular if it has this problem? Why are there so many well-known chainmaille businesses selling it as untarnishable or easily cleaned?

Joined: May 07, 2008
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Location: Germany, Herxheim

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Posted on Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:43 pm
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calyx wrote:
Just saying that the iPad as well as the iPhone doesn't seem to want to scroll down on this site. Lucky Post Reply is at the top of the page.

Please report that per PM to Daemon_Lotos. Thank you.
Quote:
Another thought - clear anodised BA. Don't know if basic processes can yield the shiny though, considering the aluminum seems to be etched first like here: http://astro.neutral.org/anodise5.shtml

Well, Clear anodized AA is surely a solution for problematic cases. Done right, its fairly shiny and scratch resistant, having maybe a slightly yellowish hue. But under normal circumstances (see below) the increased cost isn't worth the hassle.
Quote:
What I don't get is - why is BA so popular if it has this problem? Why are there so many well-known chainmaille businesses selling it as untarnishable or easily cleaned?

BA is easily available (welding wire is the main source). BA is easy to work with (high hardness compared with pure AL, but much softer than Steel). BA is comparably cheap. BA usually stays shiny due to fairly high scratch resistance, only under harsh circumstances (e.g. people with problematic skin chemistry) this shine is harmed. These are the main causes why BA is so popular, as it the ideal Beginner's stuff. More experienced maillers most times abandon BA more and more, and change over to either Stainless Steel, Titanium, Copper (-alloys), or (semi-)precious metals. Personally I continue to like it, despite increasing preference for other metals.

-ZiLi-


Maille Code V2.0 T7.1 R5.6 Ep Fper MAl Ws$ Cpbsw$ G0.3-6.4 I1.0-30.0 N28.25 Ps Dacdejst Xagtw S08 Hip

Human societies are like chain mail.
A single link will be worth nothing.
A chain is of use, but will break at the weakest link.
A weak weave will have the need to replace weak links.
A strong weave will survive even with weak links included.
-'me

Joined: September 15, 2005
Posts: 136
Submissions: 0

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Posted on Thu Aug 11, 2011 2:10 pm
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My best reason for continuing to use aluminum in any form, is that weight can sometimes be a major part of the decision process for my customers.

Joined: May 08, 2010
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Posted on Thu Aug 11, 2011 5:51 pm
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You know, everyone demonizes rice, but I've had great success tumbling just plain BA in it and I don't see how rice could possibly harm rubber...so perhaps try tumbling it in some and see if it helps?

Joined: September 02, 2003
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Location: Darwin, Australia

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Posted on Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:21 am
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Thanks Jax25, the issue isn't being unable to clean dirty BA per se. I can clean any BA up to a blinding shine with shot in a couple of hours. However, my customers can't, and I can't do it for them if it's mixed with rubber (no?) or AA.

So the issue is problematic skin chemistry, you reckon, ZiLi? It's true my sweat is slightly acidic, as I get the verdigris colour when I wear copper. That's not too uncommon though.

However, I'm wondering how much of it has to do with the fact that most people/businesses who are happy with BA live in relatively cool climates. Thoughts?

Joined: December 01, 2010
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Posted on Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:43 am
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I've worked with BA for a while and I've had this problem a lot, while I haven't made any attempts to clean the oxidation off, though I've had success in prolonging it's shine by keeping it out of direct sunlight.

I'm taking a guess that the sun increases the rate of the aluminum's reaction with the air, though I've yet to ask my professors about this. Sad

I'll be back in school in less than a month, if I find out anything from my professors I'll let you know.

Joined: June 13, 2009
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Posted on Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:29 am
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calyx wrote:
Thanks Jax25, the issue isn't being unable to clean dirty BA per se. I can clean any BA up to a blinding shine with shot in a couple of hours. However, my customers can't, and I can't do it for them if it's mixed with rubber (no?) or AA.


You can tumble anything in rice. AA, rubber, crystals. I have pendant on faux suede cords I toss in still on the string(even makes the cord clean and soft). Just don't do many at once. Rice will not prevent the strings from knotting up if you do.



Joined: May 07, 2008
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Location: Germany, Herxheim

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Posted on Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:53 am
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Oh, in my experience Stainless Ball shot doesn't harm your pieces as well, as long as they tolerate wet handling, and some requirements are fulfilled.
Who has water sensitive stuff, should go with rice, corncob, or other typical dry media. But if no dry tumbling is needed, so steel shot can be used, should use SMALL ball shot only (ball size max. 1/10"), that is already well used - no new shot, no pin or irregular shape shot, and no larger shot for REtumblings (what I/you do for a normal finish tumbling of a newly made piece, or pretumbling of rings, is another matter not asked for here). If a piece doesn't tolerate that and falls apart (irrespective what materials were used for making it), it would not tolerate normal wear and handling too long, anyway. And if there is any doubt, use rice, without any polish additives.

-ZiLi-


Maille Code V2.0 T7.1 R5.6 Ep Fper MAl Ws$ Cpbsw$ G0.3-6.4 I1.0-30.0 N28.25 Ps Dacdejst Xagtw S08 Hip

Human societies are like chain mail.
A single link will be worth nothing.
A chain is of use, but will break at the weakest link.
A weak weave will have the need to replace weak links.
A strong weave will survive even with weak links included.
-'me

Joined: September 02, 2003
Posts: 115
Submissions: 0
Location: Darwin, Australia

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Posted on Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:01 am
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My question is: if you run a business, and a customer asks when they purchase BA, how they would clean it, would you recommend they tumble in rice? What if they don't have a tumbler (99% of people don't), and are unwilling to roll a jar of rice and bracelet around the room for several hours?

As for the efficacy of rice, I've tried rice before. It has some use. However, if I can't get this kind of tarnish off with a jewellery polishing cloth, impregnated with abrasives, then I doubt rice will do the trick. I use a polishing cloth as the yardstick, because most customers will have access to one and accept that they may have to use it. Also, a polishing cloth can selectively polish the BA parts of a mixed material piece.

EDIT: I am also going to experiment with galvy in some kind of solution with aluminium, though I'm discouraged by not having heard of any kind of successful home chemical cleaning of aluminium. If anyone was confused about why I mentioned that, zinc is more reactive than aluminium in the galvanic series. It is borderline reasonable to suggest to customers that they use galvy (like some spare nails or wire) plus basic home chemicals to clean their BA, which is why I'm experimenting. Though this could strip AA, if it conceivably worked, which is entirely speculative at this point.

Joined: February 19, 2011
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Location: St.Charles MO

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Posted on Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:58 am
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Ive been wondering on this myself..
I have acid etched aluminum I'm working with, and get alot of ruboff, turning my hands black, and after a while of handling, the aluminum ends up polished.
I'm going to try some aluminum wheel cleaners from the auto parts store that ive used in the past.
They are designed for aluminum, most are now clear coat safe, so rubber etc. should be ok, and some even have teflon to help keep aluminum from getting dirty as fast.
Spray on rinse off... sounds like the easy way to me..
Has anyone tried this?

Joined: June 03, 2002
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Location: Livermore, CA

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Posted on Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:03 pm
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I suspect that not all "bright aluminum" alloys are created equal. Which alloy are you using?

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