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"Acid required to etch aluminum"



I am looking for an acid or an acid mixture that could be used to etch aluminum for jewelry products, the acid or mixture of acids needs to be relatively safe as to be accepted by my college, please note that I cannot use NaOH any help is appreciated.

Thanx in advance,

David Shanahan
- Dublin, Ireland


Hello David.

NaOH is the accepted etchant for aluminum. You are not allowed to use it, under supervision, for your coursework in aluminum etching in *COLLEGE* ?! The reports that college is no longer relevant in preparing people for a job seem sadly on target, as in the form of Drano [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] and oven cleaner, it is under the kitchen sink in most homes, for use by totally untrained people :-(

Consider a semester in India and China if you have an abiding interest in chemistry; or try to "etch" it in vinegar and let us know :-)

Best of luck.

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


It will be slow, but very safe. Use bicarbonate of soda in water heated to 130 to 150° F. Make a saturated solution. Put in a couple drops of liquid dish soap per quart of solution, the cheapest stuff made. The high priced stuff has skin conditioners that will not help. I would guess about 5 minutes at 150° F for a fine etch, longer for a medium etch.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

Ferric Chloride

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What do I use for etching designs on aluminum? Hello, can I use ferric chloride for etching designs on aluminum? I have used this on copper but don't know if I can use this on aluminum as well. If the answer is yes, how long should I soak it for? Thank you.

Jude D [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
art project - Bay Area, California

January 30, 2011

Hi, Jude. Yes, ferric chloride does etch aluminum. Please search this site for "etch aluminum ferric chloride" and, with patience, you'll find a number of reports from people who are doing it. Good luck.


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

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