I’m having difficulties ordering Nitric acid for silver etching. It has to be delivered to a home address rather than an industrial site and I can’t seem to find an online supplier. Can anyone recommend a source?
Places that sell professional sculpture supplies will have it with the patina chemicals. Triple S Chemicals (in So CA) is where I order most of my patina materials. They have Nitric acid 70%, https://www.patinas.com/chemicals
Have you considered using cupric nitrate dissolved in distilled water and electoetching? My humble opinion is it does a better job (its VERY aggressive on silver) than is much safer than nitric acid. If you google it you will get plenty of information. Nitric and hydrofluoric acids scare the stuff out of me.
Funny story: I was having the same problem as you a few years back buying concentrated nitric acid for etching because most chemical supply houses won’t sale to individuals or deliver to a home address. SO … I found it on ebay! Bought it from some gentleman … who shipped the stuff right to my. home. I wanted a liter, but strangely he only sold in quarts … that was … wait for it … he was shipping it USPS in an unmarked box in VINEGAR BOTTLES. He had to have been stealing it from work and selling it on ebay. I’m thinking WTF … but spend the bottle and it started fuming. Luckily I had a couple of those big, brown poly lined glass acid bottles and moved it over quickly. It was packed in some bubble wrap and. a few styro peanuts. Can’t imagine what would have happened if the vinegar bottle had broken in transit add spilled a quart of concentrated nitric acid … in the post office. That’s when I started looking for other solutions for etching silver
If you are in the US, I always purchased mine from Radio Shack. I know they went through bankruptcy and closed a lot of stores but there is still one near me so maybe near you also. Also looks like it is available on their website: https://www.radioshack.com/pages/search-results?findify_limit=24&findify_q=ferric%20chloride%20etchant
Sorry, I just realized the link I gave you for Radio Shack is ferric chloride, which only works on copper or brass.
I have purchased nitric acid from The Science Company through ebay because shipping was way cheaper.
In both Syracuse and Binghamton, NY, I just look up chemical suppliers and drive over and buy a large bottle of concentrated nitric acid (which I use, diluted 50:50, for bright-dipping). One bottle lasts me a few years (I don’t work that fast…).
Hi Judy, Can you please explain your bright dip strategy and set up, safety and procedure?
I do think that nitric is no longer necessary for etching but I have never heard of a way to get rid of cupric stain on silver.
Marty, I don’t know if my response about my bright dip strategy reached you or not, but here it is again!
Marty, as for safety aspects, I work at home in our large basement. The nitric acid is at the far end — I do not let anyone except my husband go into the basement without me. The glass bottle of concentrated HNO3 is sitting inside a plastic dishpan on the cement floor and under a table. The diluted acid is on my worktable, in a Pyrex pie pan with a glass lid, marked DANGER: ACID, and a couple layers of paper underneath the pan (to protect the table surface). When I need to bright dip my metal, I move the lid over and place the metal into the diluted acid. When the 50:50 dilution is fresh, the oxide stain will disappear in a very short time. But the dip will give off nasty fumes, so I set up a small fan and open a window to clear the air. Right now, I need to add more acid to my solution, so it takes several minutes for the oxide(s) to disappear. When the acid is this weak, there are few fumes. So, I set a timer (as I go about my other metal working processes, at another table; otherwise I am likely to forget the metal!). Of course, in the original dilution and any subsequent additions of acid, I add the acid to the water (or the weakened dilution), and not vice versa.
I use some steel tweezers to handle the metal, in all the parts of this process. Next to my diluted acid, I have a large plastic container of water with baking soda in it, to neutralize the acid on the metal, when the stain is gone and I remove it from the acid. Next to it is another container of plain water, to rinse off any excess baking soda. Then I dry the metal completely.
If you have a ventilated private space for this, it is not hard to set up and use. I must emphasize that it is important to work slowly and not ever be in hurry with acid around. I have used this process for at least 30 years and have only once gotten a yellow stain (from the acid) on one of my fingers. Wearing rubber gloves might help, but I have never needed them.
There are safer and slower ways of bright dipping, usually using a little heat, but not nitric acid. Others can describe them. Let me know if you have other questions/comments about my strategy. Thanks for your interest.
Thanks Judy. I don’t always have enough room to keep organized space so, although I believe that acid bright dip is probably a good way to proceed I am also interested in knowing about the other “safer and slower ways to bright dip.” Anyone? Like most silversmiths I often have metal that has been reheated a number of times that has cuprous oxide contamination.
Marty, I think other bright dips use the usual pickle (e.g., PhDown) plus hydrogen peroxide, helped along with a little heat. But I don’t have the time to look it all up. Surely some others know about this.