top of page
  • Writer's pictureSky

Melting silver with a DIY induction furnace

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Silver ingot melted using induction furnace
Jakub with a sterling silver ingot, the silver melted using the DIY induction furnace

Welcome to the first blog behind the scenes at Charleys Forest Silver. So much goes into making pieces in a way that is gentle to the environment involving recycling silver. How we melt the silver is straightforward and done on an as needs basis. We are a very small silver home business focussed on making one of a kind pieces, so our capacity and needs are small.

Jakub (Mountain Cut Studio) put together this little induction furnace to replace our conventional small electric furnace to speed things up and reduce energy use.

It's a great addition to our in-house silver recycling, taking less than 5 minutes to heat up and melt more than enough silver for my requirements.

Adding borax powder and scrap silver to the induction furnace
Adding borax powder and scrap silver to the induction furnace

The induction furnace works by creating an electromagnetic field and only heats up the electrically conductive metals (ie graphite crucible and silver). So it's super efficient - both in energy use and speed of melt compared to other furnaces.

Induction furnaces are available online and come with much needed safety features such as being enclosed in a casing, unlike this one presented here.

Molten silver pouring into the crucible
Molten silver pouring into the crucible

Like other silver melting processes, we melt cut up clean scrap in an appropriate crucible. However when using an induction furnace, the crucible needs to be graphite, which is electrically conductive, because the furnace induces a current directly in the crucible and that's what melts the silver.

The silver is added to the cold crucible, along with around half a teaspoon of borax powder and then the induction furnace is turned on. When it starts to heat up, the silver is stirred with a graphite rod to remove any slag, and to ensure it is molten before pouring. Occasionally more scrap is added to the along the way as the silver melts in the crucible.

Sterling silver ingot in the mold, melted using a DIY induction furnace
Sterling silver ingot in the mold, melted using a DIY induction furnace
Sterling silver ingots ready for rolling
Sterling silver ingots ready for rolling

The preparation of the molds is crucial. Jakub coats the molds with a thin even layer of petroleum jelly, and we don't normally heat them before pouring.

The pouring has to be smooth and in one motion, which is quite difficult to get right.

Some of the ingots are occasionally misshapen, or with air bubbles, which is fine for my work. The shapes guide the work and I cut out what I can't use, and smaller imperfections are part of the beauty of handmade silver for me. And we can simply remelt the offcuts.

I love the convenience of melting so efficiently, although I do have to get Jakub to use this DIY version that has its various idiosyncrasies that I'm not interested in getting to know!

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.



bottom of page