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Chemicals to change colors of steel

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  • Chemicals to change colors of steel

    Im thinking about making some new art projects and would like to use some different colors in them. Does anyone know what chemicals will change colors on steel?
    Thanks for any help
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  • #2
    Blueing or blackening like they do for guns. Blackening is often called black oxide and they do tools as well. Parkerizing is a version for guns I think.

    There is an older process called browning they used to do on guns, but I don't know much about it.

    Finally, I've heard of people heating the steel red hot and then dipping in used motor oil to get a neat effect.

    I guess you know heat will make a neat gold blue purple rainbow effect on shiny steel, but it comes off easily. You might clear coat it.

    Other than the above, you're probably looking at plating or paint.



    • #3

      Have you gone to King Architectural and looked at their products? I've used Auburn Rust for a copper/rusting effect but they have others. cat


      • #4
        Forgot - there's always powder coating with many, many colors. I find the prices not too bad at all for powder coating (in Phoenix anyways). cat


        • #5
          Here's the deal
          Most chemical treatments that are applied to steel to change the color are very expensive to do at home. True Black oxide or gun bluing (same thing just different level of polish to the steel) is very expensive to set up at home.
          Five tanks are needed with two of then being heated to a boil (bluing salts boil at 290 degrees F to 310 degrees F) then you need a heated degreaser and two rinse tanks All big enough to drop your part into in one shot. And no other non steel/iron metals can be introduced into the bluing salts or the salt will erupt in a nasty reaction.

          Rust browning is a lot safer, simpler, and cheaper, But it takes weeks to perform.
          What you are doing is letting the part rust then steel wool the rust off over and over again. This is done in a steam box and with a mild acid compound.

          Color case hardening is a heat treatment process and by packing a part in bone chips and chunks the heat is allowed to dissipate from the part at differing rates creating a very beautiful color pattern. Blues, greens, golds, browns, and reds.

          Cold blue is safe but not easy the part needs to be completely free of oil I mean when you think you are ready to blue it, it still needs to be degreased

          Parkerizing is nearly the same process as Bluing with different chemicals and a slightly different process. just as expensive though.

          Then there are the Tin TiAn coatings nice cobalt blue and gold colors but no way you can do this one at home with out some major investment.

          All that said cold blue is about the best bet or just let it sit out side to rust.
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          • #6

            Try going here and read all about patinas. You may need to join to do this. The base web address is

            While there check out the metal work Demo's. There is one on patinas with multiple pictures. This link might work. You'll need to just read and click on the pics as you go.

            Good luck.

            bob B


            • #7
              HI SPERVIS



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              • #8
                Last but not least.

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                • #9
                  Metal Changing Color

                  I have done this for inside art get cold rolled sheets works best but hot rolled works ok if you sand it to a shiny finish then take a small welding tip on torch and heat up areas you want to "BLUE" color will change from silver to brown to blue practice on the amount of time spent too long and you wasted the blueing I have several in my home and they still look good they are BUFFALO SKULLS HORSE HEADS LONG HORNS HORSE SHOES LAMPS ETC


                  • #10
                    rust can be mighty purty......
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                    • #11
                      This rose I made in 06 was colored with a regular old propane torch. Its made of mild steel and different heat made the various colors. I never coated it with anything and it still looks good, not quite as bright as this picture though.
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