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What to plate on our tobacco pipes?

February 29, 2012

Q. I hope you can help. I'm perplexed about what finish to put on my zamack tobacco pipe parts. We've been using copper/nickel/chrome (probably trivalent chrome), but some folks are concerned about both the nickel and chrome in the mouth, others seem concerned about fumes from the copper. I'd love to hear your thoughts on those concerns.

I tried copper/tin-brass/platinum and really like it, but the platinum stains with the tar and won't wipe off, even with alcohol. Can you think of a better, non-toxic solution? Can the platinum be somehow made harder? Gold would be too gaudy for general use, but are there other materials I should consider?

Thanks for your help!

Ted Strauss
It's my project. - Novato, California

March , 2012

A. Hi Ted.

Tin plating is food-safe, non-toxic, and a traditional finish for hundreds of years.

The same is true of silver plating. A flash of rhodium plating on top of the silver can deter tarnish.

It is possible, although not cheap, to selectively mask different areas to use patterns of different metals like gold and silver. Similarly, you can selectively bead blast to give a matte texture to selective areas.

Suppliers of precious metal processes like Technic will probably do samples of platinum plating to help you address difficulties you are having with it. Good luck.


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

March 10, 2012

A. Unbelivable! Someone that smokes, more so, smokes pipe, concerned about chrome or nickel in his mouth! The smoke itself is far more dangerous and goes inside the lungs.

Bill Marrufo

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico

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