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 Post subject: Boiling diamonds in lye?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 4:57 pm 
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Location: St.Louis area
Before going through the trouble of concentrating the dilute acids that are on hand to mix for a melee bath, a question comes to mind.

Based on a suggestion from a buyer:

What about using sodium hydroxide?

Not much is gained in terms of safety, but going through the lab inventory, it would save a few unpleasant steps & glassware to clean.

Does anyone have experience with this substitution?

If so, what is the lowest level of concentration that is most effective?

Does it need to be heated above ambient?

The melee that will be cleaned are approximately 150ct. of round & 70ct. of baguettes that were manually pulled from scrap & already soaked in isopropyl alcohol & acetone. The goal is to clean for presorting prior to bulk sale. Not only to be more respectful to the buyer, but also to get a better idea of what’s there beforehand.

Your consideration & response will be appreciated.

Kelly


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 Post subject: Re: Boiling diamonds in lye?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:41 pm 
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I have never done that nor have I heard about it in the 33 years I have been in the diamond cutting business.

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 Post subject: Re: Boiling diamonds in lye?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 6:22 pm 
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I use a purple colored degreaser that I pick up from Home Depot. Mix it about 50/50 with water and place it and the diamonds in a beaker in the ultrasound. It's mildly acidic and will break up the junk on diamond melle quite rapidly. Since Lye is strongly alkaline, I doubt that it would do much to the deposits generated by a combination of hard water, makeup, dirt and cooking residues that build up on pulled gems stones.

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 Post subject: Re: Boiling diamonds in lye?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:44 pm 
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Location: Moncton, Canada
I've seen Easy-Off spray-on oven cleaner (active ingredient lye, I believe) recommended for cleaning tenacious dirt off set stones in jewelry.

cheers
Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada

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 Post subject: Re: Boiling diamonds in lye?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:28 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2014 1:29 pm
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Location: St.Louis area
Thank you all for your input.

The purple stuff worked pretty well (had my Zep rep drop off a sample). When heated a little, it did almost as well as diluted hydrochloric, but without the mess or having to run the fume hood. It’s gentle enough that it will save a lot of time with the hand scrubbing of larger stones, too. Not so gentle that I want to dump a bunch of colored stones in it, but it’ll be the go-to for crusty diamonds.

The last 35 boils were done in nitric & sulfuric, but as scrap traffic is beginning to slow down, buying more acid just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Thanks again.


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