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"Plating without hazardous chemicals"


I have some components that I'd like to nickel plate, and in doing some research came across a web site that sells kits for home platers. They have both electro and electroless nickel, as well as chrome, copper and others. The indications are that there aren't any environmental repercussions, because these kits carry no hazardous materials charges to be delivered. They have some that do (brass, for example) and some goods they sell that can't be delivered to a residential address because they are considered hazardous.

So, my question is, after reading all the warnings to would-be home platers about the ramifications of working with dangerous chemicals, is this possible? Or is it potentially a "snake oil" situation.

I haven't supplied the site's URL, as I'm not sure if it would appropriate to do so.

Thanks! John Bankert
- Syracuse, New York


Hello John. I don't think it's a "snake oil" situation; rather, I think you covered the issue quite well yourself. It is possible to do home plating, but it usually involves some hazardous chemicals, and the legal issues about disposal are muddy. If you stay away from the chemicals that they don't want to ship to a residence, and you only plate for yourself rather than as a small business, and if you have a standard amount of luck so nothing goes wrong to get you in trouble with your sewer authority or neighbors, it is possible to do home plating. There is just no clear answer on this as far as I'm concerned; we've debated it here for at least 7 years. You'll find more than a hundred inquiries similar to yours.

Part of the difficulty in resolving such questions though is the inexact nature of the words that are used, like "safe" and "hazardous", and the wrong inferences that can be drawn. As one example, electroplating waste is "categorically regulated"; it doesn't matter who calls it non-hazardous, or whether you can drink it and a baby bathe in it, it's electroplating waste and subject to the rules related to electroplating waste. As another example, an NJ governor once famously remarked: " 'Toxic' is a matter of statute, not opinion". Good luck.

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


Almost all chemical compounds used in plating are "hazardous" to some degree. Cyanide is a common electrolyte component in copper, zinc, silver and gold plating. This cannot be shipped easily through the mail or by other common carrier. These "environmentally friendly" solutions substitute "less hazardous" materials in their place. In my experience, they don't work very well, but I suppose that depends on your application.

George Brackett III
- Utica, New York

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