In boiling water, eggs become hard and carrots become soft, but coffee beans transform their circumstances into coffee. Under intense heat and pressure, black carbon transforms into transparent diamonds. Oysters turn their irritations into pearls. The crashing waves upon the sands of life polish broken glass into a beachcomber’s treasure.
Today’s transformation focuses on silver.
In nature, silver is usually found in a combination with lead or copper. In fact, the precious metal is only one small fraction of the rock’s mineral composition. Silver-bearing ore is mined and then crushed and ground. After a flotation separation process, the remaining silver-bearing mineral concentration is ready for the extraction process.
With me so far? If you’re a silver molecule, so far you’ve been dug up, pulverized and drowned in water to separate you from the other parts of the rock who’ve been your neighbors for years.
In order to get the silver separated from the lead or copper, it’s time to turn up the heat. Until the metal melts. Until the impurities rise to the surface and are skimmed (or burned) away. Until the silver shines like a mirror and is ready to be poured into a mold.
Are you seeing a pattern here? Uncomfortable heat and time. Yet, this process happens under the watchful eye of the refiner who is careful to not to let the silver overheat. The craftsman who knows the silver is ready when his image is reflected.
When the heat of your journey is turned up, have you seen impurities rise to the surface? Is it reassuring to know the heat won’t get too hot?