Adding ammonia to liver of sulfur solution

Quite a bit has changed since I did much silversmithing and as I
again try to pick it up a little, I am excited about some of the
things that I did not know about 30+ years ago. I was hoping that
perhaps some in this group might be able to answer a few questions
that have come up or perhaps refer me to reference material.

I have seen where by adding ammonia to liver of sulfur solution,
people are able to get a fairly wide range of colors, including
golds and blues and purples on silver. I intend to experiment with
this, but would love to hear from anyone who has already learned how
to make this work. I also wondered about how liver of sulphur, with
and without ammonia, works on argentium, something that did not
exist when I last did much of this.

Thanks for any feedback.

John - if you would search the orchid archives for Iridescent patina,
you would get many references to the multi-color patina that you

In some of my experiments, I’ve also added iodized table salt. Other
chemistry to try - these are all from the pharmacy/drug store -
iodine, magnesium, potassium - any of the individual elements that
folks add to their diet.

Especially important - do this on a very clean textured surface.

I do my coloring with the patina at room temperature - it slows up
the color development so you can see what’s happening and stop it
with a cold water dip.

Judy Hoch

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You will find LOS to react the same with Argentium as regular
sterling. I like the “jell (?)” and do not use the solid type.
Longer shelf life.

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John- I’ve used it. It’s fun to play with. Here’s my advice.

Get some liver of sulfur.

Get some ammonia.

Drag out some scrap metals.


Make notes.

Have fun.

You think liver of sulfur stinks…ammonia and sulfur…
Ooofda! Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer


Hi, John –

I have a story to share with you – years ago, when I was teaching
in an old, old classroom, we had a sink with only cold water. I had a
student who wanted hot water to mix up her liver of sulfur and for
that purpose, we had a coffee pot (to make the hot water) in the
classroom. We also used it for coffee. At the time she wanted the hot
water, we had an almost full coffee pot and even after several
requests, there was still over half left. I recommended she wait for
a bit and it will be taken – or she could dump the coffee and make
the hot water to mix her LOS –

Instead, she used the coffee – and got the most wonderful colors!
We repeated the process and were able to get the same! I don’t know
what is doing it, but it results in the most wonderful reds, blues,
greens and some yellows. Caffeinated and decaf both work, but it has
to be brewed. Instant does nothing. The colors are so much better and
dependable than using ammonia or baking soda – both of which I have
seen recommended.

I have been waiting forever to be a contributor to this wonderful
forum. So many have so much knowledge, I am always hesitant to add my
two cents – so glad I could help on this one!



Hi John,

I have added ammonia to Liver of Sulphur, and had great colors. I
find, though, that the key to these colors is a weak solution. A
strong solution will go straight to black. Weaker solutions have
overtones, and other colors.

Liver of Sulphur, and other patinas that work on traditional
Sterling, also work on Argentium Sterling.

Cynthia Eid

You will find LOS to react the same with Argentium as regular
sterling. I like the "jell (?)" and do not use the solid type. 

It’s spelled gel. :slight_smile:


Coffee sounds WONDERFUL
Pat in Safety Harbor, Fla.

Thanks so much for all of the feedback, Judy, Cynthia, Deb, Jo, and
Saboiam. I really appreciate it. What a wonderful resource! I look
forward to experimenting.

Thanks again,

I’m probably old fashioned, but I use the solid LOS. Does anyone
have experience with developing an irridescent patina with the liquid
LOS? I don’t have any or I’d try it.

I loved the comment about using coffee. I’m going to try that.


hello everyone!

I’m a new silversmith from Greece. I loooved the coffee idea!thank
you so much, Deborah! But is there a way to keep this oxidation on
silver? Because everytime i use it, it slowly fades.


There are a number of emails in the Orchid archives about iridescent
patina. Kate Polachak (sp?) wrote an article about it for Ganoksin

It involves using LOS, ammonia, and salts. It also involves using
hot water, and cold water to reach the point you desire.


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Wow, that is some very cool knowledge! Thanks! :blush: