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Warning about liver of sulfur


Hi! I want to give a warning about liver of sulfur. We are often
rather casual about it, since it is so commonly used. Today I saw
something that reminded me how dangerous it really can be. One of my
students used a weak liver of sulfur at home, with ventilation, and
it turned her teeth quite black! She has osteoporosis, so her teeth
are weak, but this is scary, nevertheless. I see her as the "canary"
in our “coal mine”. Has anyone had any similar experiences? Can
anyone suggest less toxic substitutes? She prefers not to be named,
but definitely wants others to be warned. Cindy


Cynthia - I use liver of sulphur frequently - never in large amounts
(I work very small) and never for long periods of time. I use a
fairly weak solution. Your warning caught my eye - how long did your
student work with the liver of sulphur - did she have a large open
container - was it hot or cold - and was the coloring to her teeth
permanent? And did it result from only ONE session of working with
liver of sulphur or had she worked with it over a long period of time.
I find this very disturbing and have never heard such in all my years
of working with this stuff. Please expand on
your about this episode so that we might all avoid it


I too had a bad experience with liver of sulphur.I was doing a line
of sterling with 18k overlay ,I would totally darking the sterling by
immersing many pieces at a time in a warm bath of Liver of sulphur .I
used the chunks which must be diluted in water ,It was a great
effect, however after a while I developed a bad case of dermatitis
,this pretty much covered my chest area and I had to work with out a
shirt for a least a week. It is impossible to say for sure that Liver
of sulphur was the cause ,but that is my suspicion.

Of course the doctors did not know what the cause was ,One big thing
to remember is that Liver of sulphur ( potassium sulphide) can
change to Hydrogen sulfide when over heated . I was very careful
working under a hood and rinsing with baking soda, Needless to say I
no longer work with this chemical ,If necessary I use silver black
from Rio Grande . I hope your student can take care of this problem.


    ...warning about liver of sulfur.  One of my students used a
weak liver of sulfur at home, with  ventilation, and it turned her
teeth quite black! 

G’day. Teeth are mostly made of apatite - a complex of calcium
phosphate and fluoride with some protein. The gas given off and -
presumably - inhaled by people using ‘liver of sulphur’ would be
hydrogen sulphide, from a reaction with the ‘liver of sulphur’
(potassium polysulphide) and moisture. If teeth were to react with
hydrogen sulphide (or any other sulphide) the resultant compound would
contain calcium sulphide - which is a yellow-white. Not black.

However, teeth fillings contain silver, and as we all know, that IS
black. But a large varieties of foods contain sulphur compounds:
onions, leeks, kidney…etc. Which can (and do) colour teeth fillings

Hydrogen sulphide gas is poisonous and is of equal toxicity as carbon
monoxide Both combine with and sequester haemoglobin in blood; one
really dies of lack of oxygen.

One would need more than a gentle sniff: I worked in laboratories
most of my life which reeked of hydrogen sulphide; a whole large
community living in the city of Rotorua in New Zealand daily lives
with the stink. And none of us has done too badly.

  Can  anyone suggest less toxic substitutes? 

Gun bluing liquids have been suggested - but they are probably worse
than potassium or calcium polysulphides - many of the former contain
selenium which is really nasty. The answer, of course, is not to
breathe too much of the odour - who’d want to anyway? Use a well
ventilated place, and don’t loose too much sleep over it. Cheers,
John Burgess in late spring Mapua, NZ. But there was snow last
night on the nearby mountains.


HI! My husband is a dentist and he says not possible. She would
have to drink it or ingest it when the enamel was forming. Pat DIACCA



The Rio silver black has selenium in it if I remember correctly.
Selenium is highly toxic be very sure you use gloves and good!
ventilation / respirator. If I were you I would stick to Liver of
Sulfur it is safer.

James Binnion Metal Arts
4701 San Leandro St #18
Oakland, CA 94601