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topic 31820

Blackening zamak and zinc castings to antique look

A discussion started in 1996 but continuing through 2020


Q. Dear sir,

Is it possible to apply a black chromate directly onto a zinc die-casting without zinc plating the part first? Although it sounds logical, I have not been able to make this work.

Keith Rosenblum
plating shop - St. Paul, Minnesota


A. Mr. Rosenblum,

Black chromating is difficult to produce on zinc castings, but there has been research performed by Ilzro on this matter.

Ryan Winter
- Maybrook, New York

Ultrex Z 27


Q. We are currently experimenting with Ultrex Z-27, a chemical to blacken Zinc Diecastings. I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with this and if so what problems did you encounter?

Bob Lehenbauer
- Monroe City, Missouri USA

Hi Bob. We don't really like to discuss proprietary products here (why?).

But in general terms, it's a lot easier to consistently & aesthetically blacken zinc plating than diecastings -- which may have cold shuts, porosity, inclusions, and other materials (like varying amounts of aluminum). I think this situation of difficulty with castings persists regardless of what brand or type of chemical blackening you use. Iridescent yellow chromating, where less consistency is inherent and expected, may be more achievable.


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

Blackening Zamak KS


Q. Hi

I have just transferred to casting zamak ks I am casting in centrifuge {used to cast pewter}.

I am having a problem blackening zamak ks for antique look -- don't know which blackener to use.

Please help ?

Efi Maya
casting - Telaviv, Israel


A. You can use 200 gm iron chloride/1 lit water solution (cold immersion, up to 20 minutes). 12 gm copper sulphate/15 gm potassium permanganate/1 lit water solution (90 °C) solution works too.

Good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)


Q. I have acquired an antique lamp with glass panel and cast zinc frame. The zinc casting appears to be bare metal, oxidized to a faintly greenish grey over many years. Many of the similar lamps which I see have a dark, usually black, color to the zinc, which does not appear to be an applied coating like paint or lacquer. I would like to know how that surface color was achieved; was it a metal plating process, a chemical conversion similar to blueing, or some other method. If the process can be produced at home safely I expect to try it, but I do not intend to get into metal plating.

Chris Paine
hobbyist - Pasadena, California, USA


A. You can use 200 gm iron chloride/ 1 lit water solution! Your object must be grease and oxide free!

Good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb , Croatia


Q. Hi Goran,

So just to clarify, the formula is 200 grams of iron chloride with 1 liter of water. The process is cold immersion for 20 minutes. You say it should be free from grease. Do you think I can use the same cleaner/degreaser for zinc as I use for my copper sheeting?

Deanna Rich
- El Segundo, California, USA

affil. link
Black Patina for Zinc

A. Hi, Deanna

It's hard to say whether your cleaner/degreaser is safe for zinc if we don't know what it is. Most solvents are harmless to almost all metals, but caustic based cleaners may be too strong for zinc.

Rarely can you use a single batch of solution for two different purposes because of side reactions. So if you use an acidic solution like ferric chloride on copper, copper will become dissolved into it; then if you use it on zinc, the copper will immersion plate onto the zinc in the fashion of the familiar school lab where iron nails become covered with copper if placed in a copper sulphate solution. So it's best to maintain separate solutions for treating zinc and copper. Good luck.


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

December 14, 2014

Q. Could you please tell me the instruction for blackening zamak -- I need the resistance blackening!

hossein aghaie
- qazvin, Iran

December 2014

A. Hi Hossein. We appended your inquiry to a thread which hopefully at least partially answers it. But I don't know what you mean by "resistance blackening" ... can you try some different words?


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

Zamac 5 or 3 Post Machining Blackening

May 11, 2020 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. We are buying a Zamac 3 or 5 casting that we are machining. We would like to blacken these after machining to match a black anodized part. What process will help us get there?

Tim McNabola
- Wallingford [PA? CT?]

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