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Making homemade acid stains for concrete

Current questions:

Q. Hi Tom, I am trying to make my own reddish, ocher concrete stain with muriatic acid and iron oxide powder. Do you know what proportions would be best to try? Thanks

Tim Acquistapace
DIY'er - Brea, California>
January 14, 2022

Q. Thank you for your valuable formula for acid stain.
How do I get a red colour for the stain.

Mark gunasekera
Contractor - Sri lanka
June 26, 2022

↓ Closely related postings, oldest first ↓


Q. My question is regarding concrete acid stains. I am a metal worker and artist, and have recently begun incorporating cement into my work. I would like to make my own acid stains.

I understand that the stains are generally a 10-30% solution of muriatic acid [affil link], a wetting agent, and metallic salts. My understanding is that the muriatic reacts and bites the cement, and the metallic salts create a chemical reaction that oxidizes the surface of the cement.

I work with copper nitrate [affil link], ferric nitrate, ferric chloride, among others to patina bronzes and etch metals. I am not a chemist and I don't want to create dangerous chemical reactions through experimentation, but I think these salts may work. Does anyone know what the correct salts and ratios are? Thank you for any insights or corrections to this information.

Fia Cooper
metal fabricator, and artist - Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Sample Stains for Concrete

(Affil. Link - as an Amazon Associate, finishing.com earns from qualifying purchases)


A. I am just starting with the process of mixing stains so I don't know much yet; when I get better I will be giving you a letter ASAP. What do these chemicals do for etching your iron and steel? have you tried mixing outside with chemical masks on. Make sure that you write everything, every little detail down; like if you mix hydro and sulfuric in .05% solutions measure and write it down. You never know, you might just come up with the ultimate Acid Stain that has ever hit the Market in both of our countries, and make Millions. It happens all of the time. Good Luck. Scotty

Scott haas
- Vancouver, Washington






A. Try --
1 part hydrochloric acid,
8 parts water, and
5 kg ferrous sulphate.

This mix will produce a rusty colour in concrete.

Hassan [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Pakistan

May 1, 2020

A. HASSAN's recipe is a little bit wrong. Mixing and applying all together will result in a formation of insoluble calcium sulfate on concrete or marble surface. Hydrochloric acid is applied to the surface 10-15 minutes before. Then the sulfate iron solution. Once you do that the result will surprise you.
Of course the best formula is Ammonium Chloride, Iron Chloride and Water.
I tried the ferrous FeCl2 iron chloride (turquoise grains) and was really happy (the real rust colour shade).
I have not yet tried the FeCl3 that is marketed in the form of yellow grains.
I may get even better results though FeCl3 is used in a liquid form as copper remover

24229-1a 24229-1b 24229-1c 24229-1d

The tests were performed on marble surfaces. Why?

a) Calcium carbonate is also found in marble
b) Marble stain is popular in Greece

You can enter Greek characters in google search to see many photos.

I left the best for last. All our questions have been answered by Mr. SWIFT ERNEST since 1940 in his patent number US2379502A. You can download it online.

- Kifissia Athens Greece


Q. Underneath the floor coverings in my condo there are concrete floors. In one of the bedrooms I would like to pull up the carpet and acid stain the concrete floors. I'm not looking to add in decorative designs, just acid stain the floor in one color. I don't really know much about the process and would be doing all the work myself. I've looked around in Kingston and can't find the product. Can anybody give me any info as to how to acid stain and where I can find the product near Kingston, Ontario Canada.


Ryan Taylor
writer - Kingston, Ontario, Canada


Q. I am interested of getting the formula of making acid stains for concrete, I read some of the answers to that question but I couldn't make from that information any suitable material that can stain the concrete. I would appreciate getting any precise information.
Thank you.

Moshe Salama
hobbyist - Hod Hasharon, Israel


A. I am also trying to make acid stains on my own.

So far I have understood that there are 3 components. Acid (HCL/Sulphuric), Inorganic Metal Salts and water. Acids are used in less than 10% quantity. The salts used are ferrous sulphate(tan), copper sulphate(blackish) etc. I suggest experimenting with sulphates further to get colours. I also found that a solution of manganese chloride with sodium bicarbonate and acid is also giving results. Ferrous chloride and cupric chloride can also be experimented with.

Other than the stain, it is imperative to have a good sealer.

In case anyone else comes up with a formulation do let me know.

Gaurav Uppal
- New Delhi, India


That is correct.
A. Any stronger than 10% acid will dissolve the cement cream that is required for the coloured surface and expose the aggregate.

As far as the metallic salts are concerned, keep adding and stirring until no more crystals dissolve, this is a saturated solution.

Add a squirt of detergent to the mix as a water softener to remove the surface tension, this will help the solution to penetrate better.

Hope this helps!

Mike Winter
- Nelson, New Zealand

Q. I am a contractor who lives in Mexico and am interested in learning and adding concrete staining to my business. I have not been able to find any staining products or suppliers in my area, so I became interested in mixing my own formulas. Luckily I came across your site and am hoping you could forward me any information and more precisely, the exact formulas. Thank you so much,

Ginger Martin
construction - Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico


Q. I am a contractor who lives in Serbia and am interested in learning and adding concrete staining to my business. I have not been able to find any staining products or suppliers in my area, so I became interested in mixing my own formulas. I am hoping you could forward me any information and more precisely, the exact formulas.

Thank you so much!

Bozidar Rozic
stamped concrete - Belgrade, Serbia


thumbs up sign Hi, cousins Ginger and Bozidar. Welcome!

Sorry, I have no knowledge of concrete staining to offer you; all I can do is coach people, based on having run the site for 18 years & counting, about improving the chance of getting answers. Asking no one in particular to forward exact formulas has not yet worked even once in a quarter million postings ... it's just a thread killer :-(

Please try hard to engage in a collaborative effort rather than a one-way technology transfer, and I'm quite confident that you'll get good help :-) Thanks!


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


A. Ginger Martin:
There is a person in Leon Mexico with some non-commercial formulas for acid borne concrete stains. His name is Sr. Daniel Marquez of Leon, Gto. Mexico. Daniel is bilingual in English and Spanish. Daniel is knowledgeable concerning concrete. The knowledge he possess should move you beyond the experimentation stage of decorating with acid borne stains. In closing, never forget the acid borne stains are hazardous in their liquid state and you will need to protect your skin, eyes and avoid inhaling the fumes.

Byron D. Hanson, Civil Engineering Technician
- Omaha, Nebraska

A. The inquiries I've read are interesting.

There are acid stains, non-acid stains, acrylic stains and concrete dyes. If you do begin making your own stains, be careful. Water first and acid or salts second in well ventilated area.

Have plenty of water on hand in case you get a splash in your eyes.
Some of the salts are poisonous if they penetrate the skin or by breathing.
You can actually lose your sense of smell if you breathe too much of this stuff.
I write manufacturing manuals on these products.
It is great to be able to make your own and save money, however, it can cost you much more.

Johnny Brown
- Memphis, Tennessee

thumbs up sign Excellent posting, Johnny, thanks!

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

"Acid Stain Concrete"
from Amazon
[affil link]

Q. Thanks for the info on how to make the acid stains. There doesn't seem to me much available on this topic on the internet. Would someone be able to suggest any good books on the subject?

Also, any luck with making one's own sealer for concrete?

Faisal Usmani
- Karachi, Pakistan

A. If you are looking for acid stain formulas and can't find them, you aren't looking hard enough. There are books on ebay and thru the search engines. They are not cheap, but hey, you are asking for a short cut.

Johnny Brown [returning]
- Memphis, Tennessee

Q. I would like to enquire if any further information was found in regards to how to make acid stains for concrete/cement. Has anyone been successful. Where can one find some technical info, specification, products required, and mixing ratios. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Corne le Roux
- South Africa


A. I found the exact answer for this question at www.stainedfloor.com [DON'T DON'T DON'T go to that site!].

Arvin W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Austin, Texas

Ed. note 2018: Sorry, that site presently bounces to a place that installs an Adobe "upgrade" (probably malware!). Ed note 2022: still malware, now disguised as an Apple help site :-(
Readers -- Please include title & author of articles you suggest (if not an abstract) when posting a link. Nearly all websites are short lived, and broken links are a contagion which then contaminate even long-enduring reference websites like ours. But worse! -- hackers often quickly buy up those links to put ransomware on your computer!

Q. I am also searching for the acid stain, I am a contractor in Karachi city and also want to use this stain procedure in my works.

If anyone has there more information about composition and results, please update so I get more knowledge.

Babar Latif
- Karachi Pakistan

December 2019

thumbs up sign  Hi Babar. Please engage in the discussion, sharing your experience. Many readers would probably be interested in your efforts, successes, and failures in Pakistan -- I know I am. Thanks!


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

October 16, 2008

A. I have found a very good walk-through of how to apply the stains: diystainedconcrete.com. Sorry no info on making the stain yet.

Mike Rogal
- Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada

Ed. note 2018, and 2022: Sorry, that site is long gone.
Readers -- Please try to include the title of an article if not an abstract when posting a link because most websites are short lived. With a title our readers at least know what article you want them to hunt for. Thanks!

October 29, 2008

A. For all measurement/homemade acid stain recipes take a look at this site.
www.stainedfloor.com/index.html [DON'T DON'T DON'T go to that site!]

Shahz Bagdad
- Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Ed. note 2018 &2021: That is a malware site!
Please try to include the title & author of an article if not an abstract when posting a link because most links are short lived. With a title our readers at least know what article you are suggesting that they hunt for. Thanks!

November 27, 2008

Q. I would like to enquire if any further information was found in regards to how to make acid stains for concrete/cement. Has anyone been successful. Where can one find some technical info, specification, products required, and mixing ratios. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Secondly, can pool acid be used for stain purposes?

Leon Van Zyl
artificial rock builder - Mogale, Republic of South Africa

March 29, 2009

Q. I need a formula to make water based concrete dye for polished concrete flooring. If anybody can help.

Tarek aboelata
contractor - Cairo, Egypt

Ed. note: Hi, folks. Asking people to keep starting over again & again & again disrespects the work they've put in, and makes the page deadly boring. Please study the previous answers and try to phrase your questions in terms of what has already been said, engaging the posters in dialog and relating your own interesting experiences. Thanks!

May 15, 2009

Q. Dear Sir
Thank you for your remarkable web site, I already got some information looking for concrete staining, My questions are specific (we have no library, cannot purchase books on line).
1- What is Metallic Salt.
2- What metallic salt (S), to be added to HCl .
3- Does metallic salts with HCl create the color, or color will be added later.
4- What procedure to be followed to stain concrete .
Again thank you for your website

Araz J aziz
construction chemicals - Erbil kurdistan regional government of IRAQ


A. Hi, cousin Araz.

Metallic salts are compounds where a metal like iron or copper is compounded with an anion like acetate, chloride, nitrate, or sulphate. Some examples are copper nitrate [affil link], ferric nitrate, ferric chloride, ferrous sulphate, and cupric chloride. Yes, these are added to the HCl and water. Yes, these metallic salts are the source of the colors. Good luck!


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

May 26, 2009

A. I had posted a response in 2006 and was surprised to see it still here. Metallic Salts are by-products of other products. Some can be liquid form, granular or powder. Examples are ferrous sulfate which can be used to make browns, terra cotta, tans; Then there's sodium dichromate combined with ferrous sulfate to make different shades of brown. Others salts are ferric chloride, manganese chloride, copper (cupric chloride) and chromic chloride. Different combinations of these salts mixed with a coagulant or activator like hydrochloric acid and water can result in several acid stain colors.

One of the best authors of how to apply them is Gaye Goodman. I write instructional manufacturing manuals on subjects like this one and others. My web address is www.concretesurfaces.com [ed.note: sorry, link is now broken]

Johnny Brown [returning]
- Memphis, Tennessee

Ed. note: As the readers have come to expect, this fourth posted link out of four is now broken as well. Posters, please include the TITLE & Author of any article you are suggesting.

January 23, 2013

thumbs up signMr. Ted Mooney.
Thanks, I made many chloride stains a long time ago just after your response to me. I asked chemist friends in Baghdad, so I purchased Iron sulfate, sodium dichromate, copper sulfate, and started first with acid staining, then chloride staining. Spent a lot of time and came up with so many results, so I am trying to sell my stain now after 2 years.

Araz J Aziz [returning]
construction chemicals - ERBIL, KRG, Iraq

A. That's great, Araz! Very happy for your success, and good luck with the sales.


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

February 28, 2010

Q. The reason I want to know how to make my own stain is so that I don't have to buy a gallon of product for when I only need a half-cup of each color. Nor do I want to buy the individual ingredients in bulk. Where do I go to buy small quantities of acids, and mineral salts?

Has anyone ever tried rusted radiator fluid? I've seen driveways stained with that stuff and it seems pretty permanent.

Janet Hoopes
Hobbyist - Muscatine, Iowa, USA

March 2, 2011

Q. Hi, My name is Waleed Yosif. Trying to add decorative concrete to my construction line of work. Interested to know the difference between a concrete stain and dye and if both come in water or acid base and preferred application of both.


Waleed Yosif
Purchaser - Turlock, California, USA

February 21, 2012

A. Try using a clothing dye, I believe one brand is called Rit; mix with alcohol.
Works pretty well. Good luck!

Brian Esquivel
- Boise, Idaho, USA

November 16, 2012

Q. Hello,

Does anyone know what kind of acid is used nowadays to stain concrete floors? I know that muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) most of the times weakens concrete surfaces.


Art Ramalo
- Brazil

Can I make concrete stains by dissolving metals in acid?

Q. At the risk of sounding dumb, I'm an experienced stainer but have no access to stains or the chemical compounds referred to here. Stuck in the west indies. Can colours be cooked from raw metals rather than the compounds mentioned, i.e., can you melt iron in the acid to make a rust stain?

Adrian coulson
- Castries, st. lucia, west indies
April 6, 2018

November 18, 2018

A. I found this info posted by Mr Mathis of Macomb IL on a 'FineHomebuilding.com' page; it seems relevant to this conversation:

"I needed to repair a crack in a chimney and wanted the color of the new mortar to match that of the existing mortar. I had heard about using acid concrete stain for this purpose, so I called the local paint store. They could mix only gallons. I started researching the idea of making my own concrete stain and found this web page on the topic: finishing.com/242/29.shtml.

From some of the conversations on the web page, I gathered that I could put two parts muriatic acid (a common cleaner for concrete and mortar) into eight parts water to make a solution for concrete-coloring pigments. Wearing rubber gloves and eye goggles, I used a glue syringe to inject 4 cc of acid into 16 cc of water. (Always add acid to water to avoid splashing acid.) After that, I just needed some pigment.

Years ago, I read a tip in Fine Homebuilding about Mixol universal tints. I bought the basic kit, which comes with a color chart showing the different hues that can be produced with the 10 concentrated pigments. The lightest shade of #23 looked exactly like what I wanted, so I put about four drops of color #23 into my 20 cc of acid/water mix and tried it on concrete in my shop. It was a little too light, but about six drops more gave me the color I needed.
If you try this, follow all the instructions on the muriatic-acid container, and be sure to do a test in an out-of-the-way place."

The original research and info provided by:
Mr Mathis, Macomb, IL

Rocko Lizardi
- Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Ed. note: Thanks Rocko!

March 10, 2019

Q. I read on this website: homeguides.sfgate.com/stain-concrete-iron-oxide-28067.html
about using iron oxides instead of iron salts. Have any here tried those? Maybe I'm going to make a test with muriatic acid and some pigmented iron oxides (red, yellow, green and blue), those are cheaper. Any experiences are welcome.

- Bogota, Cundinamarca, Colombia

December 19, 2019

A. 2 HCl + FeO = FeCl2 + H2O

Hydrochloric acid - approximately 74g
Ferrous Oxide - approximately 71g

Ferrous Chloride - approximately 127g
Water - approximately 18g

Adding more hydrochloric acid gives you an acid stain.

Luis Gulias
- Sao Paulo, Brazil

March 16, 2020

A. I am looking for acid stain formulas too. I found that the SDS sheets, safety data sheets, in PDF format for various commercial brands of acid stains show the ingredients and a formula. I don't know if the formula is by weight or percentages but it is a start. The metal salts are usually chlorides, plus hydrochloric acid which is muriatic acid, available inexpensively. I have ordered the metallic salts on Ebay.
I have a 7000 sq feet horrible looking floor with patches and stains to camouflage and at 200 to 400 sq ft coverage ft per gallon, commercial stain is out of the question.

Tom Pule
property manager - Waldorf, Maryland, USA

March 26, 2021

Q. Maybe you can help me--I now live in Huatulco, building a smaller house with smooth concrete floors. Plan to stain and seal, BUT, I have not found any Mexican retailers. Do you know of Mexican suppliers, maybe with connection with American companies? I have seen products demonstrated on Pinterest and youTube, mainly just products that are colored Muriatic acid along with sealers and protection.
Thank you for any help and referrals.

- Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico

Ed. note: Rick, we'd be happy to change your inquiry to an RFQ/RFP where your contact info is made available to those sources you seek. Apologies, but suggesting specific products & sources in public is something we can't help with (huh? why?).

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