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Having consistency issues oxidizing silver

Hi all,

I am having consistency issues oxidizing sterling silver black.
Sometimes it looks brown and no matter how many times I put the
piece in the oxi solution it does not get darker. The other issue I
have sometimes is that all the sheen is gone and the metal looks dry.
I am using Rio Grande Midas black max. Wondering if I should try a
different brand or if there is a trick that I don’t know about?

Thanks in advance,
Laurie Chapman

If the metal looks dry after coloring it, use light oil or wax on
it. Works for me.


Small amount of Liver of Sulphur mixed with warm water will blacken
your Sterling Silver real well. Brush it on or use a toothpick to
apply. Once dry wash in cold water.

Sigi Eurich


I’ve been using an American product called Liver Of Sulphur XL GEL.
It works really well but works even better if you lightly tumble the
pieces after the treatment & then rouge polish off the excess to
your particular requirements. I find most Liver Of Sulphur treatments
will have inconsistent results. Often it will flake off in places for
no apparent reason. The tumbling in either steel shot or a pin
tumbler seems to rub it onto the surface a lot better & gives a
slight shine to it. I use it mostly to provide an antique look rather
than for contrast.

My process as follows - Clean the jewellery really well in a fresh
ultrasonic after a light final polish then leave to sit for about 48
hours. I find the treatment works better once the silver has been
exposed to oxygen for a day or two. Preheat the jewellery in boiling
water & apply the gel as per the instructions ensuring the water is
as hot as you can get it. Then I tumble it in steel shot for about 3
hours. This takes off about half the depth of the coating but what
is left seems more durable & even. Then I final polish it back off
the high points & flat surfaces with the usual Rouge, Bleu or Polinum
polish leaving the blackening in the cracks & corners.

Hope this helps
Good luck
Phil W

You may want to try drying the metal before patinating it. All metals
absorb moisture. It’s certainly possible that this may hamper the
desired effect. Use a hair dryer and you’ll actually see beads of
water form on the surface. Then, while the piece is warm (not hot),
apply the patina. See if that makes a difference.

Good luck,
Jeff Herman


Hi all…

Working with Liver of Sulpher can be tricky, especially if you are
looking for absolute consistency. One of the biggest reasons is that
it is an oxide: it rides on top of the metal after shaking hands with
air and a mixture of water and sulpherated potash. This fickle little
oxide will react to anything and everything its wayward little eyes
set upon. There are a number of substitutes out theRe: some only
slightly toxic to some that are outright deadly. I have used it for
years with absolute confidence and consistency and here are the
tricks I have learned along the way.

I have one major warning about Liver of Sulpher before I get
started. If it is mixed (accidentally or otherwise)with acids it has
the potential to release hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is
nothing to be trifled with. Long ago, a cohort left a table in the
patina area covered in Barkeepers Friend(oxalic acid), and not
knowing what I know now, I proceded to patina a copper range hood
with liver of sulpher. The amount of hydrogen sulphide that was
released dropped me to my knees, and had I been alone in the shop, I
wouldn’t be sharing with you today. That being said, a good amount
of common sense goes along way in your patina area. Clean, Clean,
Clean and a giant fan blowing the fumes away from you.

Liver of Sulpher (LoS) bag o’ tricks.

  1. The first rule of metalsmithing is clean, clean, clean.
  2. The second rule of metalsmithing is clean, clean, clean.

Get some latex or similar gloves when oxidizing. They keep finger
oil off the metal, and that nasty chemical away from your blood.

I only use distilled, filtered water. The purity of the water you
are using makes a HUGE difference when it comes to this fickle little
oxide. A gallon of distilled water is cheap at the grocers. Eliminate
any unknown bits in the water and you have just shifted into high
gear smooth as silk.

I use pyrex to patina in, and immediately clean it afterwards.
Again, getting rid of anything that can court a different reaction.

Read the recipe, and scale it back by 15% on the chemical side, make
a note in your patina notebook as to the exact mixture…and note the
outcome. I sacrifice a little time to get the same result every time.
If your metal looks dry or chalky, chances are high you are mixing it
way too strong, and way too hot. That oxide will bloom under what
ever finish you seal it with and cause you all kinds of grief.

I do mine in successive, incremental layers and slowly build the
color. Now heres the trick. Lightly brass brush that naughty oxide
back onto the surface, much like depletion guilding. I have found
that just by lightly burnishing the surface, my LoS patinas are
predictable, more stable and more exploitable. It also prepares that
metal for wax to seal it.

Birchwood & Casey make an acid patina (think pH kinda like sparex)
that makes the same family of colors and is not an oxide; its
reaction is completely different and so are its handling issues. they
also make a gel form of the same stuff. Its great for monumental
finish work - you can shoot it just like auto paint and it doesnt

I had the pleasure of working with Ron Young a number of years ago,
and his solvent dyes are far out to play with as well. Just google
his name and “patina”.

Just my two lincolns worth. Hope it helps.

1 Like

I use a German oxidizer called Gosiba. It is available from Allcraft.
I use it cold, dipping my item for about 6 or 7 seconds and then
rinsing in cold water. I use a magnetic finisher to burnish my
lightly textured pieces first before oxidizing (setting it at 1.5
hours). I have found that I don’t have tocreate a matte finish in
order for the patina to take. I burnish the pieces again for about
10 minutes to create a shiny black surface. You can also use a brass
or steel brush with soapy water to create the burnished effect.

One of the wonderful advantages of using Gosiba, aside from not
having to heat it, is that Tarn-x, which I use as a quick dip to
remove tarnish, does not remove the Gosiba patina. I have a new line
of jewelry, my Black and White collection, which I could not have
created without this product. You can see examples on my website at

See the Cactus Flower earrings at the end of the earring thumbnails.

Best wishes,
Jayne Redman

You may want to try drying the metal before patinating it. 

I agree with Jeff. I always put my silver pieces on a candle warmer
for 10-15 minutes before I LOS, even if they have not recently been
in water because there is humidity in the air. It dries the metal
thoroughly and the metal is heated when I apply the LOS. I never have
a problem with flaking or patchiness.


I took a workshop this summer and the teacher actually boiled the
water before adding the LOS gave a really dark beautiful black if you
left it in. You could also dip and rinse, dip and rinse and stop at a
beautiful blue color also depending on how many times you dipped.

Regards, gail