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How to make brightener for cyanide zinc plating

Intro / synopsis: Zinc cyanide brightener is so inexpensive and there is such a dwindling market for cyanide-based zinc plating that it doesn't make sense to most responders. Still, suggestions are offered.

Q. I have 10 cyanide zinc plating baths. I use the brightener provided by the chemical manufacturing companies. I want to make my own brightener. How should I go about it. What are the contents and in what ratio do we have to add it.

Nikhil Lombar
- Pune, India

for Shops, Specifiers & Engineers   (affil links)

"Electroplating of Zn-Fe, Zn-Co & Zn-Ni" by V Narasimhamurthy (2020)
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"Zinc Electroplating" by Muralidhara & Venkatesh (2018)
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"Alkaline noncyanide zinc plating with reuse of recovered chemicals" by Jacqueline M. Peden (1994)
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"Zinc Plating" by Herb Geduld (1990)
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"Tin-Zinc Alloy Plating" by Tin Research Inst. (1952)
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"Zinc Cyanide Plating Solutions" by William Blum (1921 Classic Reprint)
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"Composition and Comparison of Zinc Electroplating Solutions" by John Elder Pyron (1917 Classic Reprint)
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A. Mr. Lombar, none of the high reputed chemical vendors got its formulas though an internet chat. To develop your own high quality brighteners will require that you do what the others did. Study chemistry, investigate, experiment and invest a lot of money and time. If you do it and succeed you'll know why they cost "so much".

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico

A. Hello Nikhil. None other than our royal Indian Companies will sell you Cyanide Zinc brightener at approx. $1 per litre, which is the average price in India. At that price why bother making your own? A Proprietary Chemical supplier from abroad suffered a minor heart attack on learning this price, his remark quoted verbatim was 'At these prices we wouldn't even despatch water from our factory let alone cover the packing cost!'Take heart and forget about brightener bills; believe me it would be more worthwhile to concentrate your energy to make an exit from Cyanide Zinc Plating very soon.

Khozem Vahaanwala
Khozem Vahaanwala
Saify Ind
supporting advertiser
Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
saify logo

A. I fully agree with the first response (I'm a little prejudiced with all the time and money I have spent on product development); this said I will tell you that you can research a variety of obsolete products used as brighteners in the past if they are good enough for you. But remember, if something doesn't work, now you are in the chemical service business.

Gene Packman
- Great Neck, New York

A. NikhilI am curious why anyone would want to make a Cyanide Zinc Brightener today. Is it for cost savings? Do you know the cost of Cyanide zinc brightener to deposit 1 kilo of zinc is not more than Indian Rupees twelve... at say Rupees fifty five a liter or so in Pune. Do you know what percentage your cyanide zinc Brightener costs are over your total turnover? Look at these numbers first ...Incidentally my good friend Mr Khozem Vahaanwala has directed or nudged you away from Cyanide zinc. He uses Alkaline cyanide-free zinc in Bangalore. That's why he's smiling in that photograph. It's a Cyanide-free smile. You could investigate the ANC (Alkaline Non Cyanide ) zinc he is using. Actually his lunches are great for outstation visitors. We can rid your factory of cyanide and save you money & Pollution headaches from MSPCB. Think about all this. Regards,

Asif Nurie [deceased] [deceased]
- New Delhi, India
With deep sadness we acknowledge the passing of Asif on Jan 24, 2016


thumbs down signMan, I have seen it all. Homeowners doing nickel chrome plating in their bathtubs, startup plating shops making their own home brews without a chemist on staff, open advertising and pricing on the message boards, and lunches being offered to prospective internet clients? What's next guys? Could we see trading of assorted brightener and cleaner formulae? Perhaps job solicitations by ill gotten means? Kickback promises? As George Castanza would say, "Serenity NOW!"

Daryl Spindler
Daryl Spindler, CEF
decorative nickel-chrome plating - Greenbrier, Tennessee

thumbs up signHi Daryl,
We constantly discourage home plating, and continually encourage purchase from reputable vendors. No formulas are being traded -- you see repeated responses that such requests will be refused. There are no pricing offers, just an effort to trivialize cost savings from home brew so people aren't tempted.

This site is made possible by clearly labeled advertising. So here we have an Indian plating shop, and an Indian supplier, both spending their money here in America helping make this English-language site available to share camaraderie & tech tips. Their tongue-in-cheek talk about "free lunch" is simple fun & banter between paying advertisers, certainly no scandal :-)

We appreciate your many fine postings on this site and hope you don't actually view the site negatively :-)


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

Ed. note: We thank Khozem Vahaanwala for his decades of support. We thank Asif Nurie (R.I.P.) for his support of, but he passed away too early :-(

Gentlemen,There are no free lunches anywhere. If Mr Nikhil Lombar was to see Alkaline zinc being run in a scientific manner at Mr. Vahaanwala's factory in Bangalore some 300 miles from his own city of Pune, Mr. Nikhil would be able to hone into a better profit-making direction than saving money in cyanide zinc plating by producing a cyanide zinc brightener which is so cheap in India it costs just 13 US cents to deposit a pound of zinc. Making cyanide zinc brightener is not worth the time. Whereas Alkaline zinc runs at 90 percent of the cost and is pollution free (Ever seen an EPA man smile? When you run non-cyanide zinc, they do). You can earn lunches when you consider this direction. That's what a lot of platers world-wide, including USA have done, Sir. They installed Alkaline cyanide-free zinc and laugh all the way to the bank.Regards,

Asif Nurie [deceased] [deceased]
- New Delhi, India
With deep sadness we acknowledge the passing of Asif on Jan 24, 2016


Q. I would like to know the process of Alkaline Zinc Plating: its Cost, everything pertaining to alkaline zinc plating.

Hoping to get an early response from your side on this regards,


Anita Shetty
- Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Hi Anita. This thread is about cyanide zinc plating rather than alkaline zinc. We do, however, have many threads about alkaline zinc plating if you search the site with that search term. Either way, people can often answer clearly delimited questions in a paragraph or two, but when you want to know "everything" about a subject that fills books, it's not possible to condense it to an internet response. May we suggest that you contact Mr. Vahaanwala in private via the link provided, or get access to a good book on zinc plating. Good luck!


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

Q. Brightener use in Zinc/Nickel plating. I have a small setup for plating in Pakistan. Due to heavy cost of brightener which is used in Zinc/Nickel plating, I can't afford to buy it. If you can help me for the preparation of zinc brightener, I will be really thankful to you.

Mohammad Nasir
- Karachi , Pakistan

Ed. note: We have several/many threads about zinc/nickel plating if you search the site with that term.

Q. Did you get the formula for brightener? Can you share?

- Chennai, India
March 13, 2013

A. Hi Mohammad. Hi Aliasgar. Brightener formulations are mostly proprietary trade secrets! You can search expired patents rather easily, or get access to textbooks like ASM Metals Handbook, vol. 5, Surface Engineering [adv: this book on eBay , Amazon, AbeBooks] to glean a small amount of dated info. But because we don't know where posters gained their knowledge of brighteners we can't directly post any formulas -- crowd-sourcing of industrial espionage is obviously not a proper mission for this forum :-)


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

Q. Please give me formula or recipe of Zinc brightener?

Gosai Jaydipgiri
- Surat, Gujarat, India
April 4, 2015

A. Hi Gosai. As people have repeatedly said, it probably doesn't make sense to enter a declining market like brighteners for cyanide zinc plating.

But search expired patents if you wish; and the previously referenced books will tell you that benzyl chloride quaternary compounds of nicotinic acid, covered by U.S. patents 3,318,787 and 3,411,996 are the technology basis of practically every cyanide zinc brightener in use today. Good luck!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 2015

A. Dear,
Brightner formula is simple:
it's sugar pure cane sugar -- try it in water solution just 50 g per half liter

Haseeb abdul
shop - Islamabad, Pakistan
December 14, 2023

Cyanide Zinc Brightener Oiling Out

Q. Recently I changed the supplier of my cyanide zinc brightener and it seems that the old and new brightener are conflicting which is causing a contamination (oiling out), leaving white streaks all over the work pieces and the plating is very dull! What steps can I take to resolve this problem? I have tried the following steps:
1.adding more brightener
2.plating out
3.adding purifier (sodium dithionite)
4.going back to original brightener

Please help ASAP!

September 19, 2016

A. Hi Josh

Why did you change if the old brightener is still available?

Do you have any reason to believe that the new brightener is the same chemical as the old and at the same concentration?

A common reason for oiling out is far too much brightener.

You need to skim off all the oil you can and possibly do a carbon treat to remove excess organics.

The main lesson is don't change any major part of a process without trying it first on a small scale.

Or, to put it another way, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

thumbs up signThe reason for changing the brightener was the price and the concentration of both were tested and they were the same!

Josh Williams [returning]

adv. saify ind youtube

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