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Sellium used for patina

My spelling is wrong, but knowing this chemical is in products use
to patina metal, can I still use it with caution? I want to darken
brass and nickle blacker than with LOS. I use Novacan Black for
solder used in stain glass. It works great on my brass etch producing
a dark black contrast! I got the idea from another Metalsmith. Now
I’m being cautioned to stop using it! With a mask, gloves and maybe
work out did, then sal well, isn’t it safe’thank you


Dear Brenda,

The Chemical you are most likely using is a photographic toner
called RapidSelenium Toner. Check the MSDS safety data available by
searching Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner for on toxicity and
precautions for use andmake your own decision about using it. It is
basically a photographic chemical used for toning black & white
photographs. Various metalsmiths haveused it for patinas on silver
and copper base metals. All chemicals can be harmful, be informed
and aware of what you are using.

Good luck & Best regards,
Jim Sivertsen

Hi Brenda,

Rapid Selenium Toner has been used by photographers and silversmiths
for a long time. As in all things, take the trouble to learn to use
it with the proper safeguards, gloves, ventilation, don’t drink it,
etc. It produces a lovely silvery charcoal patina on bronze and
sterling. I’ve not used it on other metals. My experience is that LOS
will produce a darker patina but that may be due to the strength it
is mixed at.


Brenda, the topic of using a patina containing selenium has appeared
before " check the Orchid Archives. I’ll repeat that I use Jax Black
(available at Metalliferous and probably elsewhere) on my brass,
copper, and nickel-silver all the time. It contains selenious acid,
and the bottle makes clear that you must be careful with it. I keep
about 1/3 cup of it in a convenient plastic pickle-lifter made by
Tupperware. I lower the jewelry piece on the platform, agitate
slightly, and remove immediately when the piece is darkened. I rinse
it afterward, twice. By using a pair of tweezers, I need not touch
the liquid or the jewelry piece at all. Then I put on a pair of
rubber gloves and rub off the excess patina, using a slurry of water
and pumice, on the top, back, and (in the case of a ring) inside the
piece. I rinse well and dry. Sometimes I also rub the piece with 4/0
steel wool and finish by rubbing with a silver-polishing cloth.

Selenium is a poison, but you’ll also find it in your multi-vitamin
pills, if you take any. I assume that the amount used in jewelry
making is not sufficient to act as a poison, especially when used
carefully. In addition, the 1/3 cup of liquid Jax Black which I
presently have in my pickle-lifter has lasted for many months (of
light use) without any need to add more.

Wikipedia’s entry on health effects of selenious acid is as > Like
many selenium compounds, selenous acid is highly toxic in excessive
quantities, and ingestion of any significant quantity of selenous
acid is usually fatal, however it is an approved dietary source in
proper amounts. Symptoms of selenium poisoning can occur several
hours after exposure, and may include stupor, nausea, severe
hypotension and death.[7] It is up to you to decide how or if you
want to use something like Jax Black. I can only say that I have
been using it for decades and have not experienced any recognizable
health problems from doing so.

Judy Bjorkman

I’ve used it and was not impressed. Smells like hell too … yes, worse than LOS. I use a telliurium (no, I can’t spell) based product … not even sure you can get anymore, but it works like a charm. More reliable than LOS in my experience … LOS is so fickle.