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Nitric acid

Does anyone know where there is a chemical supplier where I can get

Clint D

Does anyone know where there is a chemical supplier where I can
get some NITRIC ACID? 

Hi Clint,

You might see if there is a Reagents chemical supplier in your area,
or otherwise, let your “fingers do the walking” through the yellow
pages. I had to talk to a lot of chemical suppliers before I found
one who would supply me in the limited quantities I needed (not a
drum full). Finding a local supplier where you can pick it up saves
on shipping and hazardous cargo charges.

If you’re seeking to etch silver, you might want to consider Ferric
Nitrate as an alternative. My understanding is that it is less
dangerous (although proper precautions are still warranted). Its not
as aggressive an etch, which in some cases, is an advantage (better

All the best,


Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

You can get nitric acid (and lots of other stuff) at City Chemical, 1-800-248-2436. They are in West Haven, CT.

Nitric acid usually needs to be purchased locally as most shippers
will not handle it. You should look for a chemical or pharmaceutical
supply house (check the yellow pages) in your area.

Hi Clint. Don’t know where you live,but most cities have chemical
supply houses where you can get Nitric Acid. Look them up in your
phone book. For etching you don’t need to get the most expensive
grade—the cheaper ones will work just as well at considerable
savings in cost.

Thanks Dave What I need Nitric Acid for is, When I go to electroplate
Aluminum, I first have to do a Coat of Zincate, and then I use the
nitric Acid to take that off and then I do another zincate coating,
this ensures that the aluminum will take on the zincate. them I can
do a Copper Strike plate, then I can do my normal acid plating
process’s. I ran out of my Nitric Acid. I used to have a good
supplier of chems. like that here in Texas, but they went out of
business in January, and I have not been able to find another that
will supply al the special chems I need to use. They are all afraid
of the EPA I guess. I can get it in 110 Gallon containers, but having
trouble finding in 5 gal sizes. Clint D

For those of you looking for nitric acid and other chemicals, contact
Tri-ess Sciences, Inc. in Burbank, telephone 818/848-7838. They sell
nitric acid in liquid form from 4 oz. at $1.75 to 32 oz. at $7.00.
Naturally the hazardous material shipping cost runs $30.00 plus the
actual shipping cost. However, for those of us living in the Los
Angeles area, this is worth while resource.

Mimi Grabis

I have searched the archives but still have questions regarding
nitric acid. In looking for some nitric acid to etch silver, I
bought 100% full proof nitric acid in less than a gallon container.
Having never had a day of chemistry, I did not realize the acid came
in different strengths. Should I just get rid of the stuff by trying
to return it or donating it to a local university? I don’t want to
kill myself with fumes or be constantly worried about the lurking
danger in having the acid in my home. I had planned to do the
etching outside but right now the never opened bottle is stored in my
garage. I read that the acid should be kept out of the light but
what about freezing temperatures? Our garage gets mighty cold in the
winter. Also, must this pure strength be diluted under a fume fan
and if diluted, where would I find more storage containers? Is the
dilution strength for etching 9 parts water to 1 part nitric acid? I
have read and been told about the ferric nitrate for etching silver,
but I am trying to decide what to do with the nitric acid that I now
have. As a last ditch effort in deciding what to do with the acid, I
am seeking advice from the forum. Thank you in advance.

Susan Jones

I would suggest that you use ferric nitrate to etch silver. It’s
not as nasty as nitric acid. You should be able to find a thread
about this in the archives. I learned about it myself in this forum
and I’ve been very pleased with the way it works.

–Vicki Embrey

 I am trying to decide what to do with the nitric acid that I now
have.  As a last ditch effort in deciding what to do with the
acid, I am seeking advice from the forum. 

Susan, the acid, if handled properly is as benign as a lump of coal,
but not handled correctly it can be quite a problem.

There are rules for handling acid and dilution with water. Wear a
rubber splash apron, and a face shield. Always add water to the
acid, vs the opposite as you can end up a violent reaction. Good
ventilation is a must. The fumes from the etching are not good for
your lungs. When working with the acid, use the appropriate
precautions, and you will not have any problems. Keep a large box
of baking soda around to neutralize any splashes and spills. Mix
only the least amount you will need for the project at hand. After
the project is complete, neutralize the solution you used for the
project and dispose of it safely. As to keeping the acid in
freezing temperatures, someone else on the list need to respond to
this. The old Bovins books as well as others give a good deal of
useful info on using Nitric acid for etching.

One more item, I would use only distilled water when working with
the acid. That gives you one less variable in the solution.

I used to have a HP Pin Plotter that I used for engraving the work
with the fonts I wanted onto a piece of silver. I made a pin with a
sharp point to replace the ink pin. I attached a piece of flat
silver stock to card stock paper using double stick tape, after
first using fingernail polish, coating the silver with complete
coat. I would set up the design using Freelance or Power Point and
then print it to the silver plate. You could let your imagination
run away, but you had to think 2D. Once the silver plate was
engraved with the plotter, I then etched it with the Nitric Acid
solution. It worked great. The plotter didn’t have the beef to
directly engrave the silver, but it could remove the fingernail
polish with very good precision, allowing for a precise etching.

I donated my plotter to the local High School a couple years back
but I now think I made a mistake. I’ve got a couple projects I
could use it for now.


Using and storing Nitric acid is as safe as owning and driving a
car. There are dangers but you accept them because you have

The concentrated acid is an oily liquid that fumes slightly,
especially when there is a lot of water vapour in the air. Never
smell the bottle!

Treat it with repect, keep it low down in the garage so that it
can’t fall down on you when you move it, I doubt it will freeze. The
bottle is usually made of dark glass, if it isn’t then just cover it
with a box.

When you dilute it add the acid to the water, never the other way
round. It produces heat as it dilutes and small amounts of water
added to the acid will boil and splutter. Acid added to the water
will just heat the water. Stir well after mixing. Use rubber gloves -
thick ones like you use to wash dishes with. Spilling the
concentrated acid on bare skin causes nasty brown patches to form.
Wash the acid off quickly with lots of plain water then neutralize
with baking soda. Keep an open box near you as you work.

It produces few fumes, I use it indoors without a fume cupboard but
with good ventilation. It produces hydrogen in tiny amounts as it

You can store it in any good quality glass container with a glass
stopper - get out grannies whisky decanter. Plastic, cork and rubber
stoppers will deteriorate quickly and you’ll find that they won’t
come out of the neck after they’ve rotted.

To neautralise the dilute acid use any household alkali. Baking
soda, washinf soda and lye will all work but I’d plump for sodium
bicarbonate - buy it from a drugstore in large amounts. Add this to
the acid in a large bucket. Whe you add more and the fizzing stops
it’sd neutral. The gas given of is carbon dioxide.

Don’t be scared!

Tony Konrath

   No, No, No,  With all due respect to  those who say
otherwide,   Acid should be added to the water, not the other way
around.  I used  to tell my students to think of it  as dumping the 
acid in the ocean, where it will be  dispersed  and diluted. and
rendered harmless (relatively speaking).   Never, 
and I do mean never add water to the acid.  Kaboom if you do.  

just were can one get a little nitric acid? I want to separate some
gold from silver, remove some lead from a gold item , as well as
use a little to re-etch an edge on some dull burs. I am having a
heck of a time finding it though. I know it can go boom, and must
be handled carefully. But I never thought it would be this much of
a mystery to find.

Hello: Nitric acid is available in any laboratory, photographic
chemical, printmaking, mining supply stores. It is a hazardous
material so hazmat charge may apply if you are ordering by mail. Try
to find locally if you want just little. In most lab supply places
you can buy in 50ml., 250ml. and 500ml. bottles. If you need more you
can order from Action Mining Services, Inc. from Las Vegas, NV in 7
liter bottles for about $29.00 + hazmat+shipping. Phone number is 702-898-5473. In lab supply
places even 50ml. bottle may cost you $10.00. Hope this will help
you. Yuvak Tuladhar

You can get hydrochloric or sulfuric acids in some form at your
hardware store. Nitric acid is, however, far too dangerous for the
public to have access. You need to go to an “official” chemical
supply-look in the yellow pages under chemicals… It also costs a
lot to ship it. Pick-up is better.

    just were can one get a little nitric acid?  I want to
separate some a mystery to find. 

Hi, I too had heck of time finding nitric, or more specifically,
finding someone who could mail it to me. Finally I went to the local
college, (University of Minnesota, Duluth) student book and supplies
store and talked to the woman in charge of art supplies. She was
incredibly helpful, even though Im not a student, and after five
minutes on the phone, she had a place and a price. She even offered
to have it sent to the college and I could pay for it and pick it up
when it came in. I cant promise you the same results, but your local
college is a possible resource worth looking into, and not just for
dangerouse caustic substances.

I am sure there are many who are more in the know who will post
companies to get it from, I just wanted to relay this particular
experience, mostly because truly helpful people like this woman are
such a rare commodity. By the way, I think you might as well get
extra, unless you can find it locally the shipping will probable cost
more than the acid. Bye, Joe Hanson

    just were can one get a little nitric acid? 

Here in Ontario Canada, I have been able to order through a
pharmacist. They are able to order from the larger suppliers. There
is of course a mark up, but that is fair. I am not sure that all of
them will do it, but I have asked two and they both did. Good Luck

Here in Portland, Or., I get acids at Neurenburg Scientific. They
carry chemicals and scientific supplies. I would think any large
city would have something similar. I just did a google on nitric acid
retail, and the state of Oregon requires nitric to be sold through
licenced pharmacies!

Spike Cornelius
Portland Or.
RC ArtMetal

Try America Dental Supply - 800-558-5925. They may be able to help.
The y also carry place-it, and fill-it. Don’t know if you have to
set up an account with them or not, but it’s worth a shot


Catherine, Nitric acid will dissolve the copper wire AND it will
dissolve your silver ring also. If you wish to dissolve the copper
wire out of the silver tubing, use either ferric chloride or
sulfuric acid since these agents will etch copper but not silver. As
to the concentrations, I would imagine you would want to use a
relatively strong solution to enable you to maintain a good etching
action against the small surface area exposed, otherwise it would
take a very long time to finish the job. For ferric chloride, a
saturated solution should do; for sulfuric acid 10 to 20 percent
should do the job. For either one, you can warm the solution to
speed things up. Also remember to provide some type of agitation to
keep air bubbles and sludge cleared away to allow the mordant to
come into contact with the copper. Any you have
regarding the etching of copper should be applicable in this
instance. Please remember to familiarize yourself with the chemicals
and proper safety precautions before proceeding.

Buy a set of tubing benders, which are small diameter springs which
fit on the outside of your tubing and are easily removed after the
bend is made - it will save a whole lot of effort!

Best Regards,
Jim DeRosa