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"Copper Plating from an Ammonia Solution"

January 30, 2021

Q. Hello I'm Jordan,

I have been doing electroplating as a amateur hobby for a while now and I have a question. I've tried looking up the answer but either I am not wording it right or I have overlooked it. I have made an aqueous solution of copper and ammonia. Would I be able to use it as is as a solution for copper plating? And if no, is there a way I can neutralize the ammonia closer to a safe pH thats usable? What answer am I not thinking of or overthinking? And I am an hvacr tech so my shop does have a hood fan in it so vapors are handled in a safe manner. Thank you.

Jordan Rusk
- Centralia, Illinois
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61204-1ext
January 2021

A. Hi Jordan. I'm not familiar with any industrial copper electroplating being done from an ammonia solution, but apparently it is possible ==>

But I suspect that chloride or sulfate (as per the article) is required for conductivity if for nothing else. So where did you find instruction to try ammonia as the electrolyte, and why are you trying to do this? If you're just mixing random stuff together, an explosion is probably at least as likely as a workable electroplating solution :-)

Please tell us what motivates your efforts on this so we can help more effectively.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
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January 31, 2021

A. Add some tartaric acid and water, pH must be 8-9, and then it must work. Alkaline tartarate bath is one of the oldest cyanide free coper plating baths.

Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb Croatia
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