Edinburgh Etch comment

I’ve been told to use a dilute ammonia solution to neutralize the
copper salts. I notice on the Edinburgh Etch that a
resist from floor wax was suggested. When I went to buy the etchant
at Radio Shack, one guy there said that floor waxes have bleach as a
contituent element. Bleach and ammonia create MUSTARD GAS, which can
kill. Although the on the Edinburgh Etch did not
recommend using ammonia as a neutralizer, many people would expect to
use it. If they used the floor wax as a resist, they may be using a
variety that has bleach as a constituent.

Alice Scherer

Sigh Please don’t just repeat something you may have “heard” form
someone else. Do a bit of research and at least give proper

1- Bleach and Ammonia DO NOT create mustard gas. The create Chlorine,
a very different gas, although Chlorine is dangerous as well it is
not in the same class as mustard gas. See


For more info on bleach and Ammonia Google it or ask anyone with
basic chemical training.

But for those who can’t here is an excerpt for the non technical

  That warning is there to protect you. Household bleach has a
  chemical formula of NaOCl - that is, one atom each of sodium,
  oxygen, and chlorine. Its chemical name, for the curious, is
  sodium hypochlorite. Ammonia has a chemical formula of NH3,
  that is, one atom of nitrogen and three atoms of hydrogen. When
  these two compounds are combined, the following reaction takes

  2(parts) NaOCl + 2NH3 --> 2NaONH3 + Cl2. 

  Do you see that Cl2 on the right hand side there? This means
  one part chlorine gas, made up of diatomic (two atom)
  molecules. It also means that the chlorine gas has been
  liberated from the bleach, and is quite capable of causing you
  harm when inhaled! 

Now on to the second problem with the statement “at Radio Shack, one
guy there said that floor waxes have bleach as a constituent element”

I am happy to find that people who are experts on dangerous
materials can be found at the local radio shack. Can I suggest a
local University Chemical department as possibly a better place to
find Accurate For a not too technical description of
what a wax is see Wax - Wikipedia

However I will give that there is no telling what a maker might try
to mix in a commercial product despite the fact that Bleach is a
water based product and by definition wax is non-miscible (does not
mix) with water.

Anytime one is working or contemplating working with a product today
has no excuse given the internet and legislated availability of MSDS
not to research what they are working with. The other
point is that frequently the “public” usage of a name differs over
time and locale (Thinking back to the discussion we had here on
Ether last year). Therefore not only should you try to find the
on what you are using, but you should also try to
determine what the original recipe called for. As an example here
(Using wax as a resist) I am guessing that the technique calls for an
older organic wax like beeswax, not a modern synthetic which could
cause problems during and after the fabrication. (LOL just thinking
of the effect of putting a silicone based wax on something and then
trying to remove it with common cleaners…)


I sent this off list to Alice since Orchids seems to be doing
excessive editing lately:

This is a big statement in error-- The floor wax suggested and used
in current printmaking practice is FUTURE an acrylic. There are other
similar finishes. There is no bleach. Bleach and ammonia do NOT
create mustard gas. Bleach with ammonia does liberate free chlorine
which is an irritant at best. ammonia does break down waxes and is
used to remove wax and acrylic resists.

here is the MSDS for FUTURE:


Information from some" guy" at radio shack is not from a reliable
source. It gets in archives and is wrong. You are doing others a
disservice by posting stuff without checking your facts!

Ammonia with copper forms a complex ion in solution with a very
intense blue color.


In a later note to me Alice told me the origin of the information
being an ammonia spill in a grocery with a lot of panic. There would
have been no chlorine release but there would have been a lot of
ammonia odor. Unfortunately gets misinterpreted and
spread out of context. This is an unfortunate sign of the times–
environmental activists and terror,d other misinformed scaremongers
and the fearful are doing the people a real disservice. It won’t go

You have to check out your before posting it-- Once in
an archive it can be a basis for escalating miss-that is
supposedly legitimate.

The internet has made more correct available easily but
this gets overwhelmed by this kind of stuff. Don’t believe everything
you hear and definitely not on internet groups unless it references
what is a legitimate source. I always try to include substantiating
sources for my posts, I believe this is necessary on a responsible

Alice has sent me a correction to the Mustard gas statement but just
referenced another one showing it was chlorine— It wouldn’t have
been. If a bottle of bleach and a bottle of ammonia were spilled
together there would have been some free chlorine. not nice stuff –
warnings are on the bottles,. Bleach doesn’t linger nor does ammonia.
The event would not have been as described. I am not upset with

Orchid recently did not honor my comments on oxygen and fuel gas
safety including leak detection. but you did repeatedly post some
inadequate In this case I backed up Peter Rowe’s ( who I
greatly respect and do not dispute) comments with a few additions
that were not in conflict with Peter.

In this case I am an definite Authority, a Chemical engineer with
over 40 years experience in the industry involved including safety
and incident investigations specifically on Oxygen and the other