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"Old-tyme firearm "Rust Blueing" & Browning with Spirits of Nitre"




Q. I found a Rust Blueing formula that needs Spirits of Nitre. Can somebody help me on this.

Thanks,

Gunnar Burkhardt
- Bochum, Germany
^



A. Spirit of Nitre is Nitric Acid, (HNO3).

Gordon Pawelchak
- Coquitlam, BC, Canada
^


May 2013

A. Thanks, Gordon, but I don't think so.

Those who are interested in spirits of nitre as an old time medicine will find letter 32413 "Need Sweet Spirits of Nitre" interesting.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^



A. I was researching nitre for a friend and found a reference at www.kramers.org/chemical.htm that lists it as nitre of potash. There are many more references in the search that I did, but I settled for that one.

Karen L. Burget Reed
- Baltimore, Maryland
^



A. A book entitled "Firearm Blueing and Browning" [affil. link to book on Amazon] by R. H. Angier, published by Stackpole Books, London, 1936, p.41 lists "spirit of nitre" as a dilute (1-5%) solution of ethyl nitrite in ethanol.

James Moore
- Troy, New York
^



2004

Q. Does anyone have any old rust blue formulas I am trying to find one that produces a nice even yellow coloured rust on gun barrels. I am trying to obtain a deep ebony black, some of Angier's are good but they have very little in the way of working instructions?

What can be used as a substitute for corrosive sublimate other than hydrochloric acid in a rusting formula. How can I make sweet spirit of nitre I believe it is ethyl nitrite and alcohol, is there a certain way to mix this?

Paul Stevens
rust blueing - Barnstaple, Devon, UK
^


2004

A. You can use 5% iron chloride solution! Instead water solution you can use pure alcohol! Good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia
^



2004

Q. I've come across a copy of "Gun Digest 29th Anniversary 1975 Deluxe Edition" [affil. link to book on Amazon].

In chapter 38: Forgotten Firearm Formulae, there is a formula for blueing of firearm, it runs; The principle of 'browning' a firearm is simply the even rusting of a barrel with the use of certain chemicals. One of the best of these old time processes is to make a solution of three quarter ounce of spirits of nitrate; an equal amount of tincture of steel; one quarter ounce of black brimstone (crude sulphur), one half ounce of blue vitriol, one quarter ounce of nitric acid and a quarter ounce of corrosive sublime, one drachm of nitric acid and a quarter ounce of copperas. Mix these with a pint of distilled water in a glass bottle (keeping it away from your good tools) and it is then ready to use.

Plum Brown Barrel Finish

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The terminology used in this formula is old time and the chemicals required are having different current names. I shall be grateful for the current names for;

1. Spirits of nitre
2. Tincture of Steel
3. Blue Vitriol
4. Corrosive sublime.

If these above chemicals are mixture of some basic chemicals then how these can be prepared at home. Please help me in preparing the solution for blueing of firearms.

Thanks.

Rajnikant Singh
hobbyist - Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
^


2004

A. Blue vitriol=copper sulphate, corrosive sublimate=mercuric chloride, spirits of nitre=ether, tincture of steel=iron chloride solution.

Good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia
^


2004

Q. Sir,

I am really grateful for the answer to my question. Please tell me how I can prepare IRON CHLORIDE SOLUTION. I am a hobbyist and have an antique rusty air rifle, which I would like to restore. So I shall be thankful for the guidance regarding blueing of firearms. I can take care of the mechanical part of my air rifle.

Once again I thank you.

Rajnikant Singh
- Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
^


2004

A. Preparing iron chloride solution: dissolve 15 grams iron chloride in 1 liter water(or pure alcohol) Hot bluing process heat your object to 315 °C (preferably in kiln)

Chemical bluing

sodium thiosulphate [affil. link to info/product on Amazon].....125 gms
lead acetate [affil. link to info/product on Amazon]..........45 gms
water..........1 lit
Hot immersion (82 °C, 5 min.)

You must lacquer or wax it!

Good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia
^


2004

A. Iron chloride is ferric chloride got by dissolving cast iron chips in HCl.

Muralikrishnan
- Kerala, India
^



C13 browne of Swiss Federal armoury

"Firearm Blueing and Browning"
by Angier
from Abe Books
or

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Q. Does anyone know of working instructions for the formula in Angiers' Firearms Blueing and Browning =>

page 85 c13 browne of swiss federal armoury. Any suggestions on a good mix as it suggested you can leave out sweet spirit of nitre?

Paul Stevens
hobbyist - Barnstaple, England
^



Can't find Spirits of Nitre

2006

Q. I cannot seem to get spirit of nitre any more. Is there any chemical that can replace this in a rusting formula?

Paul Stevens
- Devon, England
^


"How They Did it in the 1870's"
from Abe Books

or

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"Grandad's Chemistry"
from Abe Books

or

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2006

A. Spirit of nitre ether is an alcoholic solution of ethyl nitrate containing 3.5 to 4.5% ethyl nitrate.

According to The "Merck Index" [affil. link to book on Amazon] 6th edition, it is pale yellow or faintly greenish yellow clear, mobile, volatile, flammable liquid. It has a pungent odor and burning taste. The ethyl nitrate decomposes on exposure to air and light.

I think it forms an acid as it decomposes.

To make it, take nitric acid and warm it with a water bath. A 2 to 3 foot long glass tube is run from the warm nitric acid to a water and alcohol solution. Surround the receiving vessel with ice water bath. Vent the receiving bath, through another vent tube reflux through a good refrigerator or cold bath. The heat of the water bath must be cautiously applied. The retort must be kept cool by a cold wet rag or paper towel. If the alcohol is heated it may catch fire so keep it cold. The process is very productive and yields pure hypo nitrous ether. (From Dick's Encyclopedia found in Granddads Wonderful book of Chemistry).

John Welsch
- Camp Verde, Arizona
^


May 21, 2013

A. Sweet Spirits of Nitre was freely available as smelling salts until it was banned due to concern about takings it medically.
It is a fantastic additive to browning and bluing solutions for colouring steel. These solutions will work without it, but better with it. It can be made in cold weather using vodka, nitric or sulphuric acid and sodium Nitrite. These can be purchased in most places. It is a strong oxidiser and as far as I know it only lasts a few weeks in the solution before it breaks down.
I made it a few years ago and its tricky because it evaporates at about 10 °C. Ice is needed to keep it stable. Its a yellow liquid. Some people say that "sex poppers" Butyl Nitride^Nitrite will work, but I do not know. The boiling point is different.

Mike Martin
- Dublin, Ireland, Europe
^



Browning an antique gun barrel

December 1, 2014

Q. I have tried different methods of browning a gun barrel with poor results. I need a method that does not require me heating the metal.

John Birthisel
I am an FFL and like to do my own work - Denver, North Carolina, USA
^

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