Etching stainless steel?

I would be most grateful if someone would inform me of the etchant
used for stainless steel and any special process requirements. I have
experience in etching copper and brass (ferric chloride) and silver
(ferric nitrate and nitric acid). ? Thanks so much.

Margaret Hardin

What type of stainless steel, there are many tens if not over a
hundred varieties of stainless. The have varying levels of corrosion
resistance and what you want to do is corrode it :-). For 304 or 18-8
varieties ferric chloride will do the trick.


James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

Hi Margaret,

Someone such as the erudite Mr. James Binnion can no doubt provide an
expert opinion, however I have successfully used both ferric chloride
and 70% nitric acid to etch the pattern relief in Damasteel stainless
steels. The 70% nitric was very aggressive and would have been more
readily controlled with a more dilute solution. I found the ferric
chloride quite adequate and provided less materials handling issues
than the nitric acid.

Kind regards
Don Iorns