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[Enamel Bits] Armour Etch

Bought 3 ounces of “Armour Etch” at Value Craft this morning for
only $6.49 plus tax.

It says: Glass Etching Cream It also says: DANGER may be fatal or
cause permanent damage to skin, eyes or reparatory tract. Vapor
harmful, causes severe burns which may not be immediately painful
or visible. Contents: Ammonia/Sodium Biflourides

Coated the enamel piece, with the white paste using a small
wooden coffee stirrer. Got a headache like right now. The piece
is outside on a trash can and everything seems to have turned
blackish so far.

Located Lime- Sulphur at the Home Depot amongst the other
insecticides. Passed, as it’s almost $16.00 a pint.

My garage is starting to look like the sinister Dr. Jeckel’s

Bill in Vista

It turned black? hmmm…wonder what that is about. I have used
Armour etch on glass beads and enameled copper on multiple
occasions and other than a cloudy thing going on it seems to have
relatively little change in color. Anyone else?


I have used it on beads, and I love the effect. If what you are
looking for is a matte finish, and you don’t like the Armour etch,
why not just stone the piece with a carborundum stone? Anne

It dried out resting on the trash can lid. Wearing a pair of
latex gloves I scraped the black off and washed the piece. Most
of the enamel is gone. Recoated the enamel surface and have kept
it wet dripping water on it every so often. The piece has turned
blackish again but seems to be coming clean. Can hardly wait so as
to try some of the other fixes for removing the IT solder
copper. Bill in Vista

My chemistry is a little more current in this case. These
fluorides PROBABLY end up making hydrogen fluoride, or
hydofluoric acid, HF. That stuff can in fact kill you. Vapor
can remove fingernails, substantial skin contact can strike in
and attack tissues and form insoluble deposits within. I used
40% HF in my lab for years (to dissolve and/or etch silicates),
and it was the only acid I was ever really afraid of. Believe
the cautions.

The Correspondent Formerly Known as Tas

Bill in Vista The glass etcing creams used to dull enamel
surfaces have hydrofloric (sp?) acid (not sure of spelling) -
this acid can affect your central nervous system and is absorbed
through the skin - always be very careful to heavy duty rubber
gloves and very good ventilation - you usually only need to
leave it on enamels a minute or two - haven’t used on other
surfaces - its very nasty stuff and many people simply sand the
surfaces from 220 to 600 grit and accomplish the same purpose -
with dust mask of course. Sherry in San Diego

As a glass worker, I second the cautions about Armour Etch. HF
(hydrogen fluoride) is the only acid which will completely eat
glass. It’s also the acid which many people experienced with
acids completely avoid because the effects of exposure can be so
insidious. It’s possible to be “burned” with it and not feel it,
as with other acids, but it migrates through the skin and eats
anything containing calcium (i.e. your bones). Baking soda won’t
neutralize it; you have to have a particular calcium compound
(the name of which escapes me at the moment). Take care.

Calif No coast

It took two applications of the Armour Etch to get the enamel
off the fine silver piece. The piece rested outside on a inverted
trash can lid. I kept it wet by dripping water on it. It seems to
stop working as soon as it dries out. The etchant stains latex
gloves brown. The piece is a cast Honey Locust seed pod and has
too much detail to try sandblasting the enamel.

The hobby shop showed me a mirror done by a college student that
was elegant. Must have used several containers of the stuff.

Thanks all for the concern and suggestions.

I’m finished etching. Have now heated and pickled six times.
Will go for ten and hope there is a good layer of fine filver
where the copper in the IT solder left a stain. Thursday I will
enamel in class as my kiln is down.

Bill in Vista

Yes and I saw this product in the local crafts/hobbies store
yesterday. Amazingly, there were almost no warnings about the
potential hazards! No advice about ventilation, or the
possibility of severe burns or use heavy rubber gloves or
anything! Hydroflouric acid was not even listed as an
ingredient. Truly amazing in this day and age!

Well, I hope I don’t have to eat my words about Armour Etch and
all the warnings about fluorides. I admit I’ve never used this
product specifically, but have used several other glass etching
cremes (most obtained from stained glass supply places), all of
which contained some fluoride compound or other. The acid
hydrogen fluoride is the most common (and effective) glass
etchant, and would be released by these fluoride compounds. (This
could happen in a way similar to that of “dry” pickle, which
releases sulfuric acid when mixed with water.) What does it say
on the label in terms of active ingredients? I certainly would
want to get hold of an MSDS, and the manufacturer would be
required to send you one if you contacted them.

Calif No. Coast