Saturday, 10 September 2011


Sometimes a white residue appears alongside the solder bead sometime after a piece is finished, covered in patina, and waxed. This seems to have two causes.

First - Residual acid

As there is a possibility of some acid remaining on the piece, rinse with a bit of bicarbonate of soda added to the water. This will neutralise the acids from the flux and patina that may still be lurking under the foil and solder beads. If you get a frothing while cleaning with the soda, you will know there is still acid present. Wash - rather than scrub - those areas again with the water and soda solution until there is no foaming.

Second - Trapped moisture
Moisture can also produce this as it allows minerals to migrate from under the solder seams. The advice seems to centre on cleaning. First do not use much soap in the initial cleaning solution. After rinsing ensure the piece is completely dry by setting it aside in a warm dry place for a day or two before waxing or sealing.
Those that use paste waxes seem to have less difficulty than those who use thin or spray on waxes. The heavier waxes seem to seal any moisture within the structure. The moisture seems to be able to migrate through the thinner waxes. It is not optimum to have moisture sealed within the panel, as it will eventually come through the wax as it ages.

So it seems the best long term result will be achieved by ensuring everything is absolutely acid free and completely dry before waxing.