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Keeping Liver of Sulfur from Degrading?


Doe’s anyone have a method to keep Liver of Sulfur (lump type)
from degrading? I keep it in its’ little can with the lid taped
down and it still goes bad.

Marilyn Smith


Hello Marilyn!

You didn’t say how you were using it that identifies your liver
of sulfur as less than new. If you heat it to say 140o to 180o as
well as the piece, you should have a good reaction. If not, I’m
stumped. The L.of S. I stock is hard chuncks. I’ve had it for at
least fifteen years in a sealed metal tin. I make a small amount
fresh each time I use it, then reseal. Hope that helps.



Marilyn, When I buy a can I break it into relatively small
usable pieces. I put a few small pieces in an old baking powder
can that is opaque and make sure it has an opaque lid too. I put
both cans in a drawer where it stays cool and dark in our walk
out basement studio. When I need to use some, I get a little
piece out of the baking powder can and quickly reclose and
replace it in the drawer. When the baking powder can supply
runs out it is replaced from the original can. I always make
sure that both cans are closed solidly. The can I have now is
four years old and there is still plenty in the original can and
none of it has gone bad. It is also extremely dry here and that
could be a factor that would have to be dealt with in a humid
environment. Works for me.


Doe's anyone have a method to keep Liver of Sulfur (lump type)
from degrading? I keep it in its' little can with the lid taped
down and it still goes bad.

Yes. You must keep all moisture out of it. I go to the extreme and
keep it in separate jars, one for use and one for long term
storage. I keep both of these jars inside a third jar with a
desiccant. This may sound strange, but it works.

Note: I tried keeping desiccant inside a jar with the liver of
sulfur and it did not work as the liver of sulfur absorbs water
just as well as the desiccant. The trick seemed to be keeping
moisture out of the container.

I mix my liver of sulfur as needed and use it hot. If it cools,
I reheat it in the microwave oven. It is usually good for a few

Timothy A. Hansen
e-mail: @Timothy_A_Hansen
web site:

The Orchid list is quite addictive.
Thanks everyone.


I kept a batch of liver of sulfur chunks in an empty Twinings
Tea tin and the stuff stayed good for about 8 years. Wasn’t as
lucky with the next batch, but I have a hunch it was be-ginning
to degrade when it was sent. The secret appears to be keeping
it cool, dark and as dry as possible.


I kept it in the original can and in a ziplock bag but Indiana
is humid and I am in a house in the woods. I stored it in a “bath
room” in a cupboard in my basement studio. It was cool and dark
but when we aren’t home to run dehumidifiers, the whole house is
damp. The next batch that I get, I will separate into a supply to
use and a supply to store. If I can find some silica gel, I’ll
store that in a bag with the can. Thanks for the advice.

Marilyn Smith


If you are having a problem with liver of sulfur degrading
because of a humid environment, you might consider trying
ammonium sulfide instead, which is a liquid and has a similar
coloring effect.

It is extremely concentrated. I transfer about 2 oz of this to
a light tight chemical bottle, storing the orginal bottle in a
cardboard box, away from heat and light. Then I take a second 4
oz chemical bottle and mix a 25% solution. This becomes the
solution I draw from when I want to mix up a batch to color
metal. About 1/2 tsp of the 25% solution in 2 oz water is a
pretty good working concentration.

I’ve had my original bottle of ammonium sulfide for over 10
years. I only need to refill my little 4 oz bottle about every
year or so. The 25% solution doesn’t seem to have enough water in
it to provide enough oxygen to deteriorate the ammonium sulfide,
and that solution will last me indefinitely, until I use it up.
If you dilute it more, the solution won’t keep as long.

You can get ammonium sulfide and brown light tight chemical
bottles from Bryant Laboratory in Berkeley, California. (They
have a website, but I don’t have the URL.) It is fairly pricey,
but a bottle will probably last a lifetime if you store it away
from light and don’t open it too often.

Ammonium sulfide gives an especially warm rich color to copper,
bronze, and red brass, and is a common base patina used by bronze

Rene Roberts