Non Toxic Pickle

No, I'm not talking about those things some people eat. I'm talking about a chemical which cleans the firescale (nasty black stuff) off metal which has been exposed to flame or kiln. After a bad experience with the VERY toxic pickle I purchased at a jewelry supply place, I swore off that nasty stuff. It will eat holes in anything it comes into contact with. However, I started  making lots of lampwork headpins on copper wire, which come out of the kiln covered in firescale.

Glass headpins jen cameron glass addictions

While using steel wool gets a good chunk of the firescale off, I still wasn't 100% thrilled with the results. So I started googling non toxic jewelry pickle and found a recipe using regular (cheap!) white vinegar, which I purchase by the gallon anyway. And regular table salt (also cheap!). That's it. The suggested ratio was 1 cup vinegar to 1 Tbsp salt. I placed the vinegar into a glass jar and heated it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Then I added the salt and stirred. I dipped the end of one headpin and swirled it around for a second or two. This is what it looked like:

Non toxic jewelry pickle for copper glass headpins jennifer cameron glass addictions

  So I dumped all of them into the pickle

Glass headpins in non toxic pickle jennifer cameron glass addictions

  After a 1 minute soak:

Glass headpins in non toxic pickle jen cameron glass addictions

  I removed them from the pickle at this point and just wiped the rest of the "soot" off with a paper towel. They are a dull pinkish color at this point

Glass headpins jen cameron glass addictions after soaking in non toxic jewelry pickle

  Rub them a little with 0000 steel wool and they get the shiny copper back.

copper after pickle and steel wool jen cameron glass addictions



I've also heard citric acid works well too and you can get it in the canning aisle of the grocery store.

Erin Prais-Hintz

Good to know! I have always wondered about pickle. Now if I ever get my flame on I will have an alternative! Enjoy the day. Erin


Yes, I've heard the citric acid thing, but haven't tried it and didn't know where to get it locally (thanks for the tip!) Also, I had vinegar and salt already, so it was the easiest method to try first. I may try the other so I can decide which I prefer.


I am all about reducing the amount of harmful chemicals I use. And pickle is a nasty one. Luckily I always have vinegar and salt on hand too, which is super convenient.

Jane Perala

That's a great tip - thanks!

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The Crazier Sister

I found a cute, little (personal size?) crock pot at Target. I use that for my vinegar/salt pickle. That way, you can heat it and leave it while you play with your fire (heheheee) and make as many headpins as you want. Just fyi, if you want the bright rosy color on the ball (y'know, what you get when you dump the pin in cold water straight from the flame?) you don't want to use the pickle. It turns it all back to the copper color. :(


Thank you!!!!


This is great. I bought some Citric Acid, because I'd heard it was supposed to be less caustic. But I like this idea better. Thanks.

Krys Mann

Thank you so much! I live on a small remote island and bringing in toxic chemicals is expensive and many times just not possible. I have been wanting to do some more flame work and this will be a perfect solution!

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