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Dyes for anodized aluminum

Solvent based inks and water based dyes for anodized aluminum


I just took a class on coloring anodized aluminum and the instructor
had us using Sharpie Pens and food coloring to color the metal. These
worked okay, but not great, so I purchased the book “Anodized” which
had a lot of on technique and talked to great length
about using solvent based inks and water based dyes for the coloring
process. However, she did not give any resources for the inks and
dyes. She did mention that the solvent based inks were the kind used
for printmaking and silk screening, so I took my chances and I bought
an expensive set of solvent based inks from Daniel Smith that are for
printmaking. These inks did not work! I have searched the internet,
but all I can find is a large company that color anodized aluminum in
huge quantities and only sells their aluminum and dyes in huge and
expensive quantities, meant for large production work. I can’t seem
to find ANYTHING in a tube or smaller jar that would be appropriate
for any jeweler to use. I have sent several emails to the author of
the book “Anodized”, who has not responded and I have even emailed
Jane Adam, who is quite famous for her anodized aluminum jewelry, but
her resources are all from the UK. Can anyone help me here? I am so
anxious to try the process, but can’t do a thing without the proper
coloring agents. Thank you! Louise Duhamel

So how is Ted going to handle this one?

Ted will resist the temptation to start another gender war over
problem solving, and keep it short and hopefully sweet.

I had good results when colouring 999 ali after anodising using
water bases fabric dyes.

Here in the UK there made mainly by Fablon, tho in the USA there
will be an equivalent co.

your sewing/ fabric shop will be your guide.

Get just 4 basic colours red yellw green and blue to start with.

When the dye has soaked into the oxide, rinse then immerse in sodium
silicate solution to seal.

hope this helps.


If only the real stuff will do, go to an anodising shop and beg/
borrow some of their colouring agent.

A smile will get you a long way.


Hi Louise,

I used to have a company that produced anodized aluminum jewelry in
22 “fashion” colors.

Many dyes will work including RIT dye found in supermarkets. I do
have pounds of probably 12 or more colors left, bought from Sandoz,
the leader in aluminum colors at that time.

It only takes a couple grams/liter to make a dye bath. I will be
glad to package up some samples for you to try. Once mixed to baths
can stored and used for more than a year.

If you call or email me I might be able to help.

jeff kahn

Louise, Regarding your request for on coloring anodized
aluminum, I suggest you contact John S. Brana in San Francisco. His
website is

Here are two paragraphs that John wrote for my new book “Gold,
Platinum, Palladium, Silver & Other Jewelry Metals” on page 103. He
compares anodizing aluminum to anodizing niobiumand titanium.
“Anodizingniobium and titanium is a much easier process than with
aluminum. All you need to anodize is increase voltage/time in the
electrolytic bath to build up oxide layers to form various colors.
Anodizing reactive metals such as niobium and titanium is a
high-voltage, low-amperage process performed with nontoxic
electrolytes. So in practice, you can achieve a rainbow effect on the
same piece of jewelry just by varying the rate at which you pull the
item out of the electrolytic bath. " In contrast, anodizing aluminum
is more labor and time intensive. Aluminum needs to be degreased,
deoxidize, anodized, dyed, and sealed. After degreasing and
de-oxidizing, the raw aluminum must have its pores opened, usually
through a sulfuric acid bath in order for a thick oxide layer to
form, so that the aluminum will accept the dye. Once the dye is
impregnatedinto the honeycomb-shaped pores through a heat bath, the
color is sealed by boiling the aluminum in hot water or with a
sealer. Although you are leftwith one even colored object, an endless
color palate can be achieved through mixing dyes. However, you cannot
produce rainbow effects, as with Niobium.”

Renee Newman

but all I can find is a large company that color anodized aluminum
in huge quantities and only sells their aluminum and dyes in huge

My first thought was Reactive Metals Studio, but I just checked and
there’s nothing in their catalog.

Do you have the book Artists Anodizing Aluminum by David LaPlantz?
I’m sure he covers that.

This video might cover it:

What I remember from college is that we used fabric dye. This
website says RIT dye works well:


You don’t say what brands, if any, you are looking for, but dharma
trading is biggest supplier for
textile dyes I know of. Good luck!!

Sam kaffine