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"How to darken aluminum"

Current question:

September 10, 2021

Q. Hi all,

I'm trying to form a dark patina on my Wilton Armetale dinnerware pieces but would like something more predicable than running them through the dishwasher over and over again. Their website says they're made of an 'aluminum alloy' and they can withstand extreme oven temperatures. Any suggestions are appreciated.

Thanks!

M Clark
- Grand Junction [Colorado?]
^


September 2021

A. Hi M.
Goran has already offered a highly detailed solution that sounded like a bullseye to me. But please return the favor by letting us know how it works.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


September 11, 2021

thumbs up sign Sure thing, Ted! I wasn't sure if that method would work on an alloy like that of Wilton. I'll try olive oil and get back to this thread.

M Clark [returning]
- Grand Junction, Colorado
^


September 12, 2021

Hi Ted,
So I tried Goran's recipe of olive oil on the aluminum and it certainly worked to change the patina -- but it turned it from gray to a shiny brass; not exactly what I was looking for. Reading Goran's thread more carefully, this makes total sense in the context of creating a brass/bronze patina. The question of how to only darken the aluminum patina however still stands. Also do so, if possible, without the use potentially harmful chemical agents, as the Wilton pieces are meant for food.

I recently started collecting vintage Wilton Armetale dinnerware. Their website says the metal they use in their products is an 'aluminum-based alloy' and to never put it in the dishwasher as that will darken the patina significantly. I however want this darker, more pewter-like patina on my pieces. So far, I've run them on the pots/pans cycle of my washer, using cascade liquid dishwashing soap, but the patina isn't as consistently dark as I've seen elsewhere. Since the pieces aren't exactly aluminum, but some unknown (trade-secret) alloy, what would work best for this; keeping in mind that they still need to be food safe when I'm done?
Thanks!

M Clark [returning]
- Grand Junction, Colorado
^


September 14, 2021

A. There is chapter on chemical coloring of aluminum (no need for anodizing) in my small download free booklet on metals coloring and plating: https://www.finishing.com/library/budija/budija.pdf

Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Cerovski vrh 157 Croatia
^


September 15, 2021

thumbs up sign Wow! Thank you so much for this, Goran. This is the most promising lead so far for me; I’ll be sure to take a look.

M Clark [returning]
- Grand Junction, Colorado
^




Closely related Q&A's, oldest first:

2002

Q. What acid or other agent do I put on aluminum to give it a rust appearance?

Thank you,

Walter E. Belt, Jr.
Retired - Flatonia, Texas., USA
^


2002

A. Aluminum doesn't rust and can't be made to rust, Walter. A rust-colored paint or tint may be your best option. I have seen in the home decorating magazines that the paint manufacturers are offering all sorts of rust colored and patina colored paints.

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


2004

Q. I need an inexpensive rust look for aluminum sheet also. Preferably in a powder coat or urethane paint.

Roger Capehart
custom metal fabrication - Powder Springs, Georgia
^



2005

Q. I am trying to age aluminum. Don't want the white powdery look. Just want to darken it. My husband is building a miniature toy race car and wants it to look older. I will appreciate any help.

Irene Martin
Nostalgic Americana - Hudson, Florida, USA
^


simultaneous 2005

A. A thin layer of colored resin will give it an antiqued look. I think.

Marc Banks
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina
^


2005

A. You can oil it very sparingly (olive or Linseed Oil [affil. link to info/product at Rockler] or any other edible oil or fat), then you must heat it to 200-400 °C.

If needed, repeat process.

Good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia
^


2005

? Goran,

I've used this process on bronze before to darken it to a moderate patina, but I've not heard of this being used on aluminum. What sort of colors/finish does this give?

Marc Banks
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina
^


2005

A. Dear Marc!

This process can be used on any metal (if that metal can be heated to 400 °C). According to old books olive oil is best for aluminum. White of an egg is usable, too. With linseed oil I have coloured a piece of aluminum to bronze brown (bad smelling and tedious!). You can use 20% shellac solution instead of oil.

Good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia
^



2005

Q. Sorry, I'm afraid I am a lowly consumer, but I thought I'd take a chance that you might help me out. I want to use corrugated sheets of metal (I guess it is aluminium) from "Home Depot" for a ceiling in part of my house. But, I want it to look "Old" or "Aged" not the shiny bright looking stuff they sell.

Any thoughts as to what I can do to change the look, short of leaving it outside for a year or so?

Thank you for your consideration.

Dan Anderson
- New York City
^


aff. link

A. Hi Dan. When we don't even know what kind of metal we have, people can't tell us what chemical/acid/alkali we can react it with to get a look (it's a bit like finding a bag of some kind of white powder in the cupboard and trying to figure out what you should add to the mystery powder to make a cake). Instead, I'd suggest priming it with a primer made for aluminum and galvanized metal, then applying a metal solution, and a patina solution for that metal.

Luck & Regards,

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



September 28, 2009

Q. Is there a risk of warping thin aluminum material during the heating process? Specifically, I have an antique rifle that was modified with a thin aluminum cap on the nose of the forearm. The fit is nice but the polished look does not conform to the period, would like to darken it. Thanks for the info.
Ken

Kenneth Donaghue
- Bemidji, Minnesota, USA
^


A. Hi Kenneth. It's hard to fully understand this component from the description, but if that cap is now a permanent part of the rifle, I certainly wouldn't heat a whole antique rifle. Pick a brush-on patina of some sort; if adhesion seems problematical, prime it with a primer for aluminum and galvanized metal first.

Luck & Regards,

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



Creating 'antique zinc' patina on raw aluminum

antique zinc planter 33956-1
October 24, 2020

Q. Hi. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. This is my first post so thanks in advance for any guidance.

I have a custom metal planter and furniture design and fabrication business. I work mostly with corten / weathering steel and 5052 aluminum sheet.

I'm working on developing an 'antique zinc' look for my aluminum planters but don't have a good solution yet. I know I can get the aluminum a dark gray / black and that is cool but I'd also like to find a way to get a lighter grey finish.

Scott Avidon
- Ocean Ridge Florida
^

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Ed. note: Lots of additional options, opinions, and instructions on thread 19382, "How to patina aluminum"

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