Authoritative Answers, Fun, & Aloha -- no cost, no passwords, no popups
(as an eBay Partner & Amazon Affiliate we earn from qualifying purchases)

Home /
Site 🔍
pub     mobile?
Metal finishing Q&As since 1989


Seeking Chemicals for Anodizing.

Q. Hi, what a terrific site. I'm a fourth year art student at the Cleveland Institute of Art, I'm currently studying in Germany. I want to anodize some small aluminium parts for a sculpture. what is the least expensive way to do this? can I purchase the chemicals necessary? thank you for your time. charlotte

Charlotte Becket
- student, Schwaebish hall Germany

probertEthumb Aluminum How-To
"Chromating - Anodizing - Hardcoating"

by Robert Probert

Also available in Spanish

You'll love this book. has sold 891 copies without a single return request :-)

"The Surface
Treatment &
Finishing of
Aluminium and
Its Alloys"

by Wernick, Pinner
& Sheasby

on AbeBooks

or eBay or

(note: this book is two volumes)

(affil links)

A. Flattery of our site may not get you too far, but it usually at least gets you a response from me smiley face

Anodizing is an electrochemical process, so it's not just a matter of the chemicals, you need the fixturing, power supply, etc.

The least expensive way is to see if you can find a jobshop that will do this for you. Anodizing, like plating, tends to be done on a service basis, so there are usually shops that serve the public.

The chemical required for anodizing per se is simply sulfuric acid, which is readily available. But you probably have to clean the parts first and perhaps etch them in caustic soda [affil links] to a slightly matte finish to minimize fingerprinting. Unless the aluminum is very high purity, etching will leave copper behind, which will turn the surface black, and will require a desmutting chemical (nitric acid may suffice). Then you put the parts in a vat of 10 percent sulfuric acid, at perhaps 12 volts for maybe 15 minutes. Then you seal them in boiling water for at least as long as the anodizing time.

Hopefully you have a lab instructor who can help you do all this safely.

Please post a photo of your work if you meet with success!

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

It appears the flattery may have gone to Ted's head ... as he left out several important things in his reply, i.e., heating, cooling, rinsing, agitation, dying, etc. For about $30-$40 US, I'm sure you could have a qualified anodizer coat your parts, and I'm sure your results would be much better ... especially if this is a "one time shot".

Marc Green
Marc Green
anodizer - Boise, Idaho

Marc, you are absolutely right that it's not easy. I said: "The least expensive way is to see if you can find a jobshop that will do this for you."

I constantly remind people that anodizing and plating are not a good hobby, and they should leave it to professionals. But we're speaking to a 4th year art student, studying in Germany, working on a sculpture. I've rarely known any artist to contract out their painting, welding, molding, plastering, machining, patinization, or anything else--and I'm just entertaining the possibility that this is art to be created by the artist, not assembled from factory parts.

But thanks for reinforcing that anodizing isn't easy, and including some of the requirements I had omitted!

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

Yeah.. I realized that..right AFTER I hit the submit button...besides...I was just havin a little bit of fun with ya anyways smiley face

Marc Green
Marc Green
anodizer - Boise, Idaho

Just remember that you told Charlotte she could build her own anodizing installation complete with heating, cooling, rinsing, agitation, dying for $30-$40 US. I remember it clearly, don't go telling me I got all lightheaded and confused.

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


oops... I guess I did leave out one important cost factor...the racking to hold the parts...that should cost about..say..$75,000 US...soooooo, the total cost (with racking), ought to be around $75,040 US, or you could find a qualified job shop to do the work for you. Thanks for correcting my obvious mistake, Ted, would sure hate to lead the nice lady astray. :)

Marc Green
Marc Green
anodizer - Boise, Idaho

!! $75,000? How about $200.00 and you've got a toy for life. It will also do titanium vanadium an niobium. Buy a 10 amp variac, a bridge rectifier, a $5 plastic aquarium from the pet store, trisodium phosphate [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] , distilled water, a couple of wires with alligator clips and anodize your head off for next to nothing, $75,000.00 ? it takes two seconds to wire it, good luck.

Chard Darren
- Toronto, Canada

Happy to agree that you can anodize titanium with such a setup, Chard. You can't anodize aluminum in TSP, however.

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

!! Take it from me, anodizing is a good hobby. Nowadays my hobby has earned me a small fortune. I started my first anodizing line with about $400 and the results were industrial quality (I tested them at a local anodizing shop). So all of you who think it costs a fortune and don't even want to try: Hang in there, you get the hang of it.

Martin Dehlin
- Eksjö, Sweden


I don't know how anyone "makes a small fortune" without selling their product though, Martin. Here in the USA you are immediately subject to EPA 40CFR433 and a host of other very expensive mandates if you sell anodizing services or anodized products. I know a person who served penitentiary time because he let his personal plating hobby in his garage grow into a small business, and then he couldn't get out from under the waste liability without losing his house; he got caught dumping. If you think this can't happen, tell a neighbor that you are anodizing in your garage or basement and watch what happens when his toilet backs up and he starts making calls to the town. Remember that in the USA if you are running an anodizing service it is illegal to dump even the cleanest, totally neutralized rinse water down your drain because every drop of rinse water and hose water is categorically regulated (although I realize that you won't necessarily get caught and that the authorities are usually more interested in bigger fish).

Anodize as a hobby if you wish, or go into the anodizing business if you wish, but in the USA plating and anodizing shops were the EPA's very first regulated businesses -- so be careful about letting your hobby grow into a business without an actual plan.

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

Can I add sulfuric acid to my "decorative anodizing solution"

Q. I am very new to the anodizing world. Can I add just plain sulfuric acid to a tank that has decorative anodizing solution in it. I need to bring down my pH level and the company I order from is late on delivery. Will I get the same outcome on my parts. I only anodize colors, black and yellow. Yellow is fine but black is light grey. Need help :(

mistie kemp
- corinth, Mississippi u.s
July 24, 2014

A. Hi.
You can add sulfuric acid to your anodizing tank, Mistie. The question is ... how much? For decorative anodizing, sulfuric acid should be maintained at 180~220 g/l and aluminium content at 5~15 g/l .
For black, you need a thicker oxide coating to get the deep jet black look.
Current density around 1.5 A/dm sq. at Constant current for 45 mins will get you there. Good luck.

SK Cheah
- Penang Malaysia
July 29, 2014

July 31, 2014

I used to do those adds when I worked for Anacote, for that grand old gent of anodizing, Frank Kraft. I don't think I've ever worked for a company so devoted to excellence.

Anyway, make sure not to add the acid while there are parts in the tank. And, allow the electrolyte to come back down in temperature after the addition. Failure to do so is apt to cause problems.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York

(No "dead threads" here! If this page isn't currently on the Hotline your Q, A, or Comment will restore it)

Q, A, or Comment on THIS thread -or- Start a NEW Thread

Disclaimer: It's not possible to fully diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations might be harmful.

If you are seeking a product or service related to metal finishing, please check these Directories:

Chemicals &
& Software

About/Contact  -  Privacy Policy  -  ©1995-2024, Pine Beach, New Jersey, USA  -  about "affil links"