plating, anodizing, & finishing Q&As since 1989
What is Liver of Sulphur?
I am a Maker of Pewter figurines I read in a jewelry book that you can oxidize (blacken) pewter with Liver of Sulphur. No one in South Africa seems to know what this chemical is. Can you please tell me another name for it or what it is made of. I have been blackening my pewter with Nitric Acid in the past but it gives a finish that is too dark (i.e., hard to polish the black off sufficiently) and sometimes inconsistent.
Thank you,Andrew Postus
private - Durban, KZN, South Africa
Sulphurated Potash.Neil Bell
Red Sky Plating
Albuquerque, New Mexico
See question 20448 - all will be revealed.
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK
Liver of sulphur is not a chemical compound but is a mixture, prepared as a brown mass by fusing sulphur and potassium carbonate.(P. J. Durant 1954,
General and Inorganic Chemistry page 491)
6S + 3K2CO3 = 2K2S2 + K2S2O3 + 3CO2
When I last prepared this I melted sulphur and slowly added a measured quantity of potassium carbonate as per the above formulae.
The mixture was stirred until bubbling ceased and was then allowed to cool. It was then broken up and bottled. The mixture was stable.
A dilute solution can be used to tarnish copper and other metals.
Note that hydrogen sulfides are also evolved which smell bad in low concentration but are poisonous in higher concentrations. Thus a fume cupboard is mandatory.
- Sydney, NSW, Australia
March 31, 2009
Hello, Liver of Sulfur is widely available in the states. "Rio Grande" is a jewelry supply firm and they will ship it to you. It will loose potency with moisture or air so store carefully. It is easy to control and will give a variety of colors from light brown to black. Easily mixed in warm water to make solution.Luanne Meader
- Georgetown Massachusetts