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Etching: FAQ

Q. What kind of acid etches what kind of metals?
A. Ferric Chloride: Etches copper, brass, bronze. Ferric Nitrate:
Etches silver

Q. Do I proceed any differently with silver than copper?
A. The protocols for etching copper are exactly the same as copper.

Q. What is Penny Brite?
A. Penny Brite is an excellent copper cleaner that is made from
citric acid. It leaves no greasy residue behind and is the
recommended cleaner for this process.

Q. How do the chemicals arrive?
A. Ferric Chloride can come in crystal form or pre-mixed. Ferric
Nitrate comes in crystal. A list of suppliers are below.

Q. How do I mix the chemicals?
A. Ferric Nitrate is mixed with 1 part Ferric Nitrate crystals and 2
parts distilled water. Make sure you ALWAYS add the crystals to the
water only. Ferric Chloride

Q. Can I use regular tap water?
A. No. The chemicals in tap water vary from city to city with
different additives. Use distilled water whenever possible.

Q. How do I dispose of Ferric Chloride Solution?
A. There are two ways:

  1. Contact your local Hazardous Waste Disposal Company

  2. The solution must not be put down the drain because of residual
    copper ions left in it. To make it safe for disposal, you can add
    sodium carbonate (washing soda) or sodium hydroxide to it to
    neutralize it, until the pH value goes up to between 7.0 and 8.0,
    testing it with indicator paper. Copper will be deposited as a
    sludge. Allow the sludge to settle, pour off the liquid, further
    dilute it with water and then it can be poured down the drain.
    Collect the sludge in plastic bags and dispose of it as required by
    your local waste authority.


Ferric Nitrate

Safety: Ferric nitrate solution is a corrosive liquid. Avoid contact
with eyes, skin and clothing, and do not breathe its mist. The
solution can decompose at temperatures below 100=B0C (212 F) to yield
toxic nitrogen oxide gas.

As with any chemical, ferric nitrate requires care in handling.
Anyone responsible for the procurement, use or disposal of this
product should familiarize himself and those handling the product
with the appropriate safety and handling precautions. This
is available in the Material Safety Data Sheet, which
may be obtained by contacting our Customer Service Group.

Q. Where can I purchase Ferric Chloride or Ferric Nitrate?
A. There are a few sources out there. Ferric Nitrate is often used
as a patination for sculptors. Ferric Chloride

Graphic Chemical and Ink Company
728 N. Yale Ave. PO Box 7027
Villa Park, IL 60181 USA
(630) 832-6004
(800) 465-7382
Fax (630) 832-6064

Ferric Chloride and Ferric Nitrate

Bryant Laboratory, Inc. is located at 1101 Fifth Street, in
Berkeley, California. Our Office hours are 8:00am - 4:30pm,
Monday-Friday - Pacific Time Orders can be placed at 800-367-3141. You
may also email us at, Phone us at
510-526-3141, or Fax us at 510-528-2948

Penny Brite

Learn Photo Etching on Metal with Karen Christians at MetalWerx,
Apr 3-4 2004, 9am-5pm, 2 days Tuition: $295 Materials: $55