Silversmithing is an art that a growing number of people enjoy on an amateur basis. Old silver, broken jewellery and other items can be purified, melted or smelted. This silver can be made into anything, or just formed into simple bars that can be sold as raw material. The process of melting silver is very easy as long as you have the right tools to work with. There are just a few tools that are essential and will allow anyone to easily transform their scrap metal into valuable ingots.
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Silver requires a high concentration of heat to melt. Silver coins begin melting at 879 degrees Celsius. Sterling silver melts at 893 degrees Celsius. Pure silver requires the highest temperatures to melt and will not begin to liquefy until temperatures reach 961 degrees Celsius. Normal ovens cannot safely reach or maintain these temperatures. The only way to safely melt silver is to use a specialised melting oven, referred to as a furnace.
There are two primary styles of furnace used for melting silver. A tilt and pour furnace has a hinged platform that holds the crucible steady and allows you to tilt it forward to pour the melted silver. A lift and pour furnace does not have tilting capability. Instead, the smelter uses a set of tongs to lift the crucible and to manually pour the melted silver. Using a lift and pour furnace gives the smelter more freedom of where to pour, but also requires more strength and a steady hand.
Silver cannot be melted directly in a furnace. The metal must first be placed into a crucible. The crucible is then placed into the furnace, which typically uses induction heating to melt the items inside the crucible. This crucible is a special holding container made of strong metal alloys. These alloys are capable of withstanding much higher temperatures than the silver you are melting, so the crucible maintains its shape and strength even as the silver becomes molten inside it.
If you have a tilt and pour furnace, you can simply tilt the entire furnace to pour the silver. If not, you will need a strong set of tongs to lift the crucible out of the furnace and to tilt it for pouring the silver into moulds. These tongs are large and made of high-grade steel. Some models have a locking mechanism that prevents the tongs from slipping open. Larger crucibles may be handled with a double tong approach, with two people grabbing the crucible from opposite sides. This adds more leverage and stability for lifting and pouring.
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