Etching iron


The etching of iron is mainly used to passivate it. There are various acids to choose from. How to etch iron is summarized below.

Iron - rarely available in pure form

Iron in pure form is actually as good as not available. If anything, it is used almost exclusively for magnets. Pure iron is relatively soft, has its melting point at around 1,500 degrees Celsius and can be red-hot excellent deformation. However, iron is primarily available in the following form:

  • Pig iron (contains a lot of carbon)
  • Cast iron (high carbon content)
  • Wrought iron (very low carbon content)
  • in different alloys (with different carbon content)

The passivation as the goal of the etching

When etching is a passivation, which can primarily prevent corrosion. That is, the acid used forms a solid, hard layer. For this purpose, primarily nitric acid is used, but also with hydrochloric acid and aqua regia (hydrochloric acid and nitric acid in a certain mixing ratio) is suitable.

Iron can basically be etched with any acid

The color formation depends on various factors. Decisive is again the form in which the iron is present, ie raw and cast iron, pure iron or in an alloy. In principle, iron can be etched with any acid, but depending on the iron present, it also has different effects. What concrete effects this has on stainless steel and which acids are preferably used, you can read under "Stainless steel etching".

The etching of iron as an ornament

The etching of iron and steel has a long tradition. Weapons like swords, halberds or bayonets were often etched, but also armor and armor. These techniques are interesting because they can be performed without much technical effort. In order to etch shapes, letters and characters, part of the iron needs to be covered.

Stencils to etch patterns and characters

This is done by special waxes, but today nail polish is also excellent. The real art is to remove the nail polish or the wax as the etchings are to be seen later. In order to be as professional as possible, it is also advisable to use a form which can be used as a template.

Intensity and effects of the etching of iron

The etched iron is so prepared from a few minutes to a few hours immersed in the acid. The duration depends on factors such as acid concentration and acid used. Depending on the acid used and again depending on the shape of the present iron then a slight discoloration is achieved up to really deep acidification.

Tips & Tricks

You can etch iron for different reasons. So you can decorate it, but also achieve a passivation. If you pass an iron object completely, you can easily transport it in another iron container. For example, a knife blade in a metallic knife sheath.


Video Board: Salt.Vinegar.Vinyl. Electro - Etching Steel!