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Difficulty sourcing ferric chloride

It’s not just difficult or impossible to find bottled ferric
chloride at retail locally, it was not easy to source muriatic acid
either. Home Depot and Lowe’s no longer carry it. We purchased a
gallon from a masonry supply place. Adding two parts hydrogen
peroxide to one part muriatic acid did the trick for the nickel
silver pendants I etched, but the bottled ferric chloride is
definitely the better way to go if you can find it online without
having to pay the hazmat charge. One seller told me that if it is
bottled in sufficiently small quantities, the hazmat charge does not
apply. Easier and safer still, AlphaStamps sells a very affordable
crystallized chemical that I think is iron perchloride. You just mix
the crystals with water and etch away. This is working great for me,
and I’ve had one container going for over two weeks, with no apparent
reduction in effectiveness.

Jane, muriatic acid is used to clean cement, so you were correct in
locating it at a masonry supply place. A friend has moved to Belize,
and has been having problems getting things, we take for granted,
and has not found any source for Ferric Chloride. He wrote telling me
that he has no problem getting muriatic acid, and collects rusty
pieces of iron that he tosses in to make his own Ferric Chloride. He
is pleased with the good etching he is able to get. He says he has
his own recipe for Edinburgh etch, which traditionally uses citric
acid to beef up the Ferric Chloride. He uses lemon juice. Seems he
can get lots of lemons on Belize.


Here is a site on chemical etching with out ferric chloride:

Ferric Chloride is waste byproduct of steel making but it does have
a major use in drinking water treatment and wastewater treatment !!

Iron perchloride is ferric chloride

Use the Edinberg etch with added citric acid and your ferric
chloride solution will probably last for years !! really. Very
little waste- no need to dump it !


The etchant is ferric chloride ( a byproduct of steel strip making)
that is widely used by the printed circuit industry. It also is
widely used by art printmakers. They developed a process adding
citric acid to the mordant to chelate (goggle this) or tie up the
iron reduced when the metal is etched. The bath needs to agitated to
get fresh mordant in the etched groove The story on this Edinberg
etch from close to the head end of the horse is heRe:


The last I heard, Radio Shack no longer carries ferric chloride. I
have not confirmed that myself, but I would telephone them before you
make the trip to purchase it. I live in St. Louis Mo and I purchase
my ferric chloride from Gateway Electronics. I would think that any
electronic supply house would sell it. It is used to etch computer
boards - I think. I also buy my PNP paper from them. If you live in
the states, maybe you could give them a call and find out the name of
the manufacturer. If you get that name, you could, in turn, contact
the manufacturer to see if there is a distributor in your area. The
Gateway phone number is 314-427-6116I also believe Dick Blick art
supply carries it but it is a little pricier there.

Linda Lankford

The last I heard, Radio Shack no longer carries ferric chloride. 

I have personally found this to be true, at least in Ohio and
Michigan. I used to buy it for just a few bucks a bottle from them,
then suddenly spent 8 months trying to find a Radio Shack store that
had any left from last year (when it seems they stopped ordering it).
All the managers have the same story that they can’t buy/order it any
more, and aren’t sure why. One did tell me that it relates to
hazardous cargo shipping and/or anti-terrorism. Strange.

I finally found a new source in Akron, Ohio called Phil Capp. They
have a limited website, but are very helpful in person if you call
them. They were also sold out when I called this winter, but were
able to order it for me. I bought a huge amount when it came in 3 or
4 months later. They have no idea why it took so long. The price is
more than double for what I used to pay at Radio Shack, too.

It’s very strange that this chemical is suddenly difficult to get a
hold of, but I love the results of working with it, so it’s worth it
to me!

Jeni Buckingham

Ferric Chloride is difficult, though not impossible. What is harder
to source is Ferric Nitrate for etching silver. I have tried every
chemical supply in Calgary. Either no one has it or they want over
$50 for 1 oz. of liquid. I can’t even find someone to ship it here
even with hazardous charges. The only place I could find it was
begging a friend through the local art college to get me some, so I
am hording it carefully as I may not have that source in the future.

Karen Bahr - Karen’s Artworx
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A friend who does a lot of etching with ferric chloride got tired of
having to pay the hazardous shipping charges, and has come up with a
solution that he says works.

He uses Copperas—sold in most garden stores and the garden section
of many other stores under the name of Hi-Yield Copperas. It is iron
sulfate. A Four lb. sack costs about $5.00.

Hi-yield Copperas is used by gardeners to combat chlorosis… When
the leaves of a plant begin to turn yellow from lack of iron in the
soil, they apply the copperas.

It is used my masons to stain concrete a deep yellow color. My
friend says it is the same as powdered ferric chloride. He adds
enough of the copperas to the water until it is the color of coffee,
and he says it works just fine

Certainly worth a try.


One thing I have used for etching

is called “campfire blue”. It is essentialy a copper salt (CuCl) and
is used for etching PCB boards, and in dyestuffs as a mordant, as a
patina and will tint ferrous metals various colours. I get it from
Cheap-Chemicals. com, along with “chlorowax”, a resin containing
chlorinated paraffin that is a viscous superior metal lube when
mixed with oil, or makes a great additive to milk based paints to
make them waterproof, and I use it in Patina formulas that I don’t
want to rub off with wear. They also sell a lot of grades of powdered
of charcoal, hexamine- which can be used to detect gold, and other
precious metals relatively easily. They are the cheapest source of
methylene chloride - which I use for many purposes in the studio and
in working with flavourings, essential oils and perfumes ( a hobby of
mine), gilsonite (asphaltum) which I use fr a ground n etching
resists, etc, grogg for lining kilns and making my own "solderite"
coating, gum arabic, which I use for many things in the studio and
home, and Potassium perchlorate- which I use for electro-forming and
other metal working compounds…They also have nitric acid quite cheap
(i think its about 6 dollars for a 5 lb. bag of flakes, powder or
granules). I buy my bulk flake shellac from them and a bevvy of other
things that i’ sure some of you will want.

As for ferric chloride, which, by the way radio shacks in W. Nc, and
other rural locations between Atlanta, Chattanooga TN, and Asheville
NC still have bottles of on shelves I have frequented also sells it
in a kit with things one doesn’t need for jewelry making and is
still in their on line catalogue -so those managers are mistaken as
they in fact, do carry it or I wouldn’t have mentioned it) the
catalog link is: 16 oz. PCB Etchant Solution


This is where I order Ferric Chloride:

Karen, try Bio Shop Canada in TO: they"ll ship Ferric Nitrate
Crystals and you can mix with distilled water (1-part ferric nitrate
crystals to 2-parts distilled water). They also have a website:


Does “Cheap-Chemicals. com” normaly go thru peroids where there’s
nearly nothing in their catalog, or is the current situation weird? I
was looking for the “chlorowax” stuff you mentioned, since it sounded
interesting, but their online catalog mostly only has a few types of
aluminium micro spheres and asphaltum.


Does "Cheap-Chemicals. com" normaly go thru peroids where there's
nearly nothing in their catalog, or is the current situation
weird? I was looking for the "chlorowax" stuff you mentioned, since
it sounded interesting, but their online catalog mostly only has a
few types of aluminium micro spheres and asphaltum. 

hello Lindsay, I’ll find the chlorowax link and send it to you- the
site itself has a few periods of backordered stock, but all-in-all I
find everything I need. I know that chlorowax is their proprietary
formula but i remember it’s lissted under another name ( probably
the chemical name.) give me a day and I’ll find it- it’s great stuff
to have on hand, Also apologies for the long delay in response. your
email went to the junk folder and I was just about to hit “delete
all” when I saw your email! I have been away from the computer for
weeks and there are 6518 spams, and 605 emails to wade through…it’s
not going to be a fun afternoon ! I’ll find the link though and send
it on. As for the company- they are prompt in shipping orders and 9
times out of 10 they have everything I need on hand and even
break-order for you if you need less than they’d like to sell, or
less than is listed… again, apologies for the delay