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topic 13785

Electroless nickel

A discussion started in 2002 but continuing through 2019


Q. Hi ,

1. Is it possible to electroplate further on ENP (high phosphorous).

2. Is it possible to plate en on EN.

Thanks in anticipation,

Qutubuddin Saify
- Ajman, U.A.E.


A. 1. Sure. The best quality chrome plated wheels include electroless nickel plating before the decorative nickel-chrome.

2. I don't see why not, although I assume you have to do rigorous activation.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"


thumbs up sign Thanks Ted, would you help me with the activation steps.

Best regards,

Qutubuddin Saify
- Ajman, U.A.E.


A. To activate EN you should use a strike nickel solution or a cathodic cyanide cleaner.

sara michaeli
sara michaeli signature 
Sara Michaeli
chemical process supplier
Tel-Aviv, Israel

November 2013

A. Hi Qutubuddin. A Wood's Nickel Strike is probably the best way to activate electroless nickel for plating. But the sooner you do the plating the better.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

May 2, 2019

Hi all,
Is there any way to re-activate electroless nickel without using current?

Claudio Picchi
- Oxfordshire, UK

May 2019

A. Hi Claudio. Almost anything is possible. Simply stripping the electroless nickel and starting over is one way. We have nearly a dozen other threads that talk about re-activating electroless nickel if you are patient in searching the site.

But as often the case it all depends on many things that haven't been mentioned yet: what is the substrate; is it low, mid, or high phosphorous EN; has it been heat treated? Why do you want to re-activate -- to chrome plate, to add more electroless nickel? Was the need for more nickel discovered immediately or months later -- usually the older the nickel is, the harder it is to activate.

Finally, how imperative is it that current not be used? If it is totally unacceptable to use electricity, stripping the nickel and starting over might be the only option. But if you're just browsing for a cheaper option than Wood's Nickel but still highly reliable, there probably isn't one. Details please.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

May 8, 2019

Q. Hi Ted,
Thanks for your reply, here are some infos:

1. The substrate is mid phosphorous nickel
2. It is not heat treated (except the drying step which is in a oven but less than 100 °C degrees. I can also avoid to dry it in a oven if required)
3. I don't want to strip it. I would like to remove the oxides on the surface for further electroless plating. So, after reactivation, I will put a seed layer of Palladium and, on top of it another electroless coating (could be either Ni or Cu).
4. This nickel coating could be few weeks old.
5. Avoiding current is strictly mandatory, that's why I can't use electro-cleaning and Wood's nickel strike

Hope it helps but if you need any other info, please feel free to ask.

Claudio Picchi [returning]
- Oxford, UK

May 2019

A. Hi again. The recognized way to activate is with Wood's Nickel or a similar strike bath; second choice would probably be stripping and starting over. When you eliminate those, I don't think there is a proven answer, only suggestions for experiments ...

"Electrodeposition: The Materials Science of Coatings and Substrates"
by Jack Dini
from Abe Books
info on Amazon
see our Review

And when it comes to that, it's time for my favorite plating text book and the weirdest, Dini's "Electrodeposition" which includes possibilities from mechanical roughening to strong acids to diffusion of the plating layers to try to regain adhesion. Maybe roughening followed by seeding and the second electroless layer, followed by diffusion baking to tie them together? Or hopefully an experienced electroless nickel plater can relate some idea that worked for them.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

May 9, 2019

Asked and answered before (thread 17382). I have used this on old, passive nickel with excellent results.

Clean, Rinse, Activate, rinse, plate in any conventional nickel bath.

April 11, 2017

A. Here is the iodine activation formula -

Add to one gallon of water the following chemicals:
3 Fluid ounces of concentrated sulfuric acid slowly with stirring.
One third ounce of Potassium Iodide.
0.002 Ounce = 0.062 Grams of solid Iodine.

The Potassium Iodide is dissolved in a separate small amount of water and the solid iodine is added. When the iodine has dissolved the solution is added to the cold diluted sulfuric acid solution and thoroughly mixed. In use, the iodine should be added periodically to maintain a straw color.

Ambient temp, no current, 1-2 minutes.


Nickel plate

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

May 2019

thumbs up sign  Thanks Jeffrey!

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

May 10, 2019

thumbs up sign Thank you very much!

Claudio Picchi [returning]
- Oxfordshire, UK

sidebar2 May 12, 2019

I am sure that Jeffrey's activator works


A US gallon is 3.8 Litres; An Imperial (UK) gallon is 4.2 Litres

A US fluid ounce is 29.5 ml

An Imperial fluid ounce is 28.4 ml

And would that ounce be an avoirdupois ounce of 28.3 g or an apothecaries (Troy) ounce of 31g ?

Does it matter ?

NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter because one engineering team used metric units while another used English units.

America leads the world in many fields. It is time it caught up in this.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

May 2019

thumbs up sign  Hi Geoff. Our readers are technically savvy enough to realize the superiority of the metric system, so no need to shame the USA for its habits. There was a big metric push 25 years ago but it fizzled out and I think it's unlikely to regain currency soon. English is the 'most powerful' language in terms of number of speakers, international influence, and quite possibly in precision & expressiveness, but we can't make the world speak it. I think the metric system must be used in school, and that people should consciously use it with their young children. Then it will become like immigrants and their learning of English -- only some of the old timers will ever become comfortable with it, but all the kids will use it and the old ways will die off :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

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