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Stabilizing Iron and steel


#1

Oh oracle of wisdom! Anyone out there know how to treat pure iron so
that the surface has a hard coat of rust on it that won’t rub off on
clothing? The same for steel?

I’m involved in a project that requires me to use both these metals
with 18ct gold and I’d like to be able to color the iron a deep rust
red.

Anyone got an answer?

Tony Konrath
Key West Florida 33040


#2

Tony,

Try posting this to the techtalk section of the
http://www.ArtMetal.com site. Also could try the ABANA site (look
in Google for ABANA, it is a blacksmith site and they deal with
rust and it’s stabilization all the time).

Hope this helps.
John Dach


#3

Hi, Tony, I can help a little. I hope someone else with more
expertise responds. I’m doing some welding, and have learnred a bit.
To get an even coat of rust, apply or soak in almost any acid.
Vinegar is often used. Then apply a clear coat with rust inhibitors
added, to keep the rust from progressing. You can locate these
through companies that deal with steel, and (I think) from Sculpt
Nouveau. I do know the folks at Sculpt Nouveau are friendly and
helpful, and can tell you where to find the clear coat, or the rust
inhibitors to add to wax, lacquer, or what you want. The finish will
need to be renewed every few years, as I understand it. My teacher
wrote down a specific product for me, but naturally I mislaid or
lost it, and I need it too. Good luck!

–No�l


#4

Hello Tony;

The best product I’ve used for this purpose is by Birchwood Casey.
It’s called “Plum Brown Barrel Finish”. The color is that of old,
well handled iron, like an antique that has been in constant use. Be
very careful using it, as I believe it contains a mercury compound.
If you wish to avoid the mercury, use a dilute solution of ferric
chloride. Warm the iron so that you can brush or spray on the FC and
it steams a bit. It will take many applications to accomplish a good
layer of rust, and if it doesn’t seem to be building up at first,
dilute the solution more. I don’t know of an exact proportion, as it
varies depending on the carbon content of the steel. Even pure iron
will have at least some carbon, unless it’s reagent pure. Once you
get a laer of rust built up, neutralize the ferric chloride with
ammonia, otherwise it will be deep in the pores of the metal and
will continue to oxidise, which isn’t so much a problem except that
it will cause whatever sealant or finish you use to lift off. I use
Johnson’s original paste wax or Renaissance wax to seal the finish.
This will mellow the rust a bit and darken the color somewhat.

David L. Huffman


#5

Hi Tony, Sure do, it’s called Birchwood Casey gun barrel browning,
or browning solution you can order it from Dixie Gun Works in Union
City TN. It will eave a wide range of colors depending on how much
you apply, You do have to keep the piece very warm for the browning
action to happen, it is an acid based solution but hardly lethal.
Just exercise normal precautions, you may be able to also find at a
shop that carried Muzzle loader rifles or Black Powder supplies but
Dixie is the best bet Standard disclaimer no affiliation to the
companies

Kenneth Ferrell
www.shadras.com


#6
    The best product I've used for this purpose is by Birchwood
Casey. It's called "Plum Brown Barrel Finish".  The color is that
of old, well handled iron, like an antique that has been in
constant use.  Be very careful using it, as I believe it contains a
mercury compound. 

Actually the B.C. patinas are Selinic Acid based.

    If you wish to avoid the mercury, use a dilute solution of
ferric chloride.  Warm the iron so that you can brush or spray on
the FC and it steams a bit.  It will take many applications to
accomplish a good layer of rust, and if it doesn't seem to be
building up at first, dilute the solution more. 

I find that I have to get the metal rather hot so the sprayed FN
steams off very fast. Even apply a bit of heat to the “dry” metal
will often bring the FC coloration up.

I don't know of an exact proportion, as it varies depending on the
carbon content of the steel.  Even pure iron will have at least
some carbon, unless it's reagent pure.  Once you get a laer of rust
built up, neutralize the ferric chloride with ammonia, otherwise it
will be deep in the pores of the metal and will continue to
oxidise, which isn't so much a problem except that it will cause
whatever sealant or finish you use to lift off.  I use Johnson's
original paste wax or Renaissance wax to seal the finish. This will
mellow the rust a bit and darken the color somewhat. 

We are now using Liberon Wax, as of all the paste waxes we have
tried (MANY) Liberon is the only one that does not easily give a
white “residue” in crevasse like the other waxes do. Just another
way to skin this cat!!

John Dach


#7

Hi John;

    Actually the B.C. patinas are Selinic Acid based. 

To my recollection, the bluing products are selenic acid, the Plum
Brown formulation used to contain a mercury compound, mercuric
chloride, I believe, I’m not sure it’s still even made.

    I find that I have to get  the metal rather hot so the sprayed
FN steams off very fast.  Even apply a bit of heat to the "dry"
metal will often bring the FC coloration up. 

If you get the metal too hot, the solution will “bounce” off and do
nothing. It takes experimentation, and a lot depends on the type of
surface you have. The trick I found was to get the right
concentration so that the FC didn’t simply etch itself right back off
again.

    We are now using Liberon Wax, as of all the paste waxes we
have tried (MANY) Liberon is the only one that does not easily give
a white "residue" in crevasse like the other waxes do. 

Do you have a source for this Liberon Wax? I’m not familiar with
it. By the way, if folks want to see the results of a ferric
chloride coloration, next time you’re in a Border’s bookstore, go to
the crafts section, look for a largish coffee table book called “The
Contemporary Blacksmith” by Dona Meilach, and look in the index for
my name. I have a piece in that book that was done with ferric
chloride (and other secret ingredients).

David L. Huffman


#8
   <snip>We are now using Liberon Wax, as of all the paste waxes
we have tried (MANY) Liberon is the only one that does not easily
give a white "residue" in crevasse like the other waxes do.  Just
another way to skin this cat!! 

Hi John How does the Liberon wax affect the color compared to the
Renaissance wax? Do you notice any difference in the finish gloss?

Thanks.
Pam Chott
Song of the Phoenix