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Sources for Liver of Sulfur

Q. My jewelry design work has been mainly beaded designs. Now, I've begun moving into metal smithing and am enjoying the fabrication of my own focal pieces to incorporate into the beaded work. I have been unable to find a source for liver of sulfur. It was recommended to me that I could possibly find this at a drug store, but they all say they've never heard of it. Could you please point me in the right direction? I live and work in western Washington. I'm very anxious to continue exploring metals and all the possibilities they will provide me in my work.

Thank you for your time,

Samantha Bellesen
- Poulsbo, Washington

Ed. note: That was then. Liver of sulfur is readily available these days [on eBay or Amazon affil links]
simultaneous replies

A. The company you are buying your jewelry making supplies from should be able to provide you with this product or point you in the right direction.

Neil Bell
Red Sky Plating
supporting advertiser
Albuquerque, New Mexico

A. Dear Samantha,

Liver of Sulfur can be obtained from most of the larger jewelers supply houses like Rio Grande or Gesswein. You may want to check your phone book for a local supply house. A very helpful free website for jewelers and metalsmiths is the Orchid website, check for the address on your search engine.

Best regards,

Jim Sivertsen
- Alden, New York

Liver of Sulfur

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A. I can't tell you where to get "liver of sulfur", but I can shed a bit of light into what it is. There are two different materials called "liver of sulfur"; the first is calcium sulfide and is also known as a homeopathic remedy "hapar sulfuris" or "lime sulfur". This is a quite hard material and has been used in pottery and metal patinas. Apparently it looks a bit like raw liver in colour, hence its name. The other material is basically potassium sulfide, but is made by gently heating sodium carbonate / washing soda [affil link] solution with sulfur in a covered vessel. This forms a mixture of potassium sulfide, polysulfide, sulphate and thiosulphate in variable quantities. I believe this is what the old alchemists used as part of their search for phlogiston. It is also used in some photographic processes to get weird effects in monochrome pictures. Unless you know what you are doing with sulfides, I would suggest you avoid them - they all stink like rotten eggs, are poisonous and will turn all your family silver black! Now you know a bit more about it, perhaps your local drug store may help you.

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK

Liver of Sulfur

on eBay or


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A. I went to my local stained glass shop, they ordered it for me and I received it within a week. good luck!

Rebecca L. Sawyer
Scraps Of Time - Everett, Washington

A. You can get it at Beads & Beyond in downtown Bellevue.

Jen cres
- sammamish, Washington

Q. I'm a self-employed artist just exploring bronze work. I read the letters here about Liver of sulfur and how to make it. I've got a ready source of sulfur [affil link]. Just wondering how I can make sodium carbonate (everyone seems to have sodium BI-carbonate but not sodium carbonate). Could I just mix up a whole lot of salt and wood-ash, for instance? I also noticed that one recipe here says potassium, not sodium, carbonate.

Any advice gratefully received.

Christopher Charles Elliott
Self employed artist - Hastings, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
October 5, 2008

"The Complete Metalsmith"

on AbeBooks

or Amazon

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A. Liver of sulfur is most commonly used, in my experience, for potassium sulfide. If you were to make it by the process described, you would have to use potassium carbonate, not sodium. Making it would be a very stinky process; it's better to find a chemistry lab supplier or specialty metal art supplier and purchase it there. BTW, sodium carbonate / washing soda [affil link] is pretty easy to find. It's common name is washing soda [on eBay or Amazon affil link] and it used to be used for an additive for washing clothes. It can still be found in the laundry section of some supermarkets. FYI, I'm a chemistry teacher with about 40 years experience.

J. Edward Wanner
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
February 19, 2010

Q. Hello, would you mind to share the process how to create liver of sulfur (which proportions and where to get components). I understand, that Liver of Sulfur is commercially available, but it has very short shelf life. I keep it in the dark place and very tight closed jar, but it's going bad in a few months. It would be good to make a fresh batch from components as soon as you need it. I am sometimes frustrated when I need to use liver of sulfur on jewelry right now and discover, that it's not working any longer.
Thank you.

Nina Novikova
- Seattle, Washington
January 4, 2012

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