Wrap thin-gauge (20-gauge [0.8 mm] or thinner) wire around two fingers or a large mandrel to form a coil. Remove the coil from your fingers or mandrel and use the ends of the coil to bind the coil together tightly. (If you’re using silver or other precious-metal wire, use a piece of scrap wire in the same gauge to bind the coil to avoid waste.) Avoid letting any of the wire extend from the bundle, as that part will be more likely to overheat and melt. For thicker-gauge wire, form a coil and use steel binding wire to secure it.
Coat silver or gold wire with an anti-firescale flux, if desired. Apply paste flux to all or part of the coil, or mark it with a fine-tip permanent marker. Paste flux becomes clear and glassy and the marker will disappear when the metal reaches annealing temperature.
Annealing wire in a kiln
Preheat your kiln to the annealing temperature of the metal you want to anneal. (1100–1200ºF [593–649ºC] is the range for most common jewelry-making metals. You can anneal at a lower temperature, but it will take longer.) Place the wire coil on a firing rack, set the rack in the kiln, and close the door. Remove the firing rack and coil from the kiln when it reaches the same temperature as the kiln (when the flux becomes glassy or the marker disappears). With fine-gauge wire, this may take as little as 15–20 seconds. Set the rack on a fire-resistant surface, pick up the coil with a pair of tweezers, and quench it in water. Remove any steel binding wire, and place the coil in pickle
until it’s clean.
Annealing wire with a torch
Set the wire coil on a charcoal block or other soldering surface. Light your torch, and heat the block around the coil with a reducing flame. Keep the torch moving in a circular motion, letting only the bushy tip of the flame touch the wire. Heat the coil slowly until your wire is annealed. If any part of your wire begins to glow bright red, pull back with the torch, as you are at risk of melting the wire. Quench the coil in water, remove any steel binding wire, and pickle