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Etching and Working with Meteoric Iron

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Meteoric iron is a wonderful substance. Many cultures used it (such as the Egyptians and Inuit) as a source of iron before extracting iron from ore was invented.

It is naturally very hard, keeps a good edge, and is resistant to tarnish. It is also very expensive although surprisingly affordable in small quantities. Go ebay!

It is mostly composed of two different alloys of iron and nickel: kamacite and taenite.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteoric_iron

The crystals of these alloys have differential resistances to acid. As a result, you can etch an iron meteorite with a strong acid to make the crystal structure visible.

This process is fairly well documented on youtube, which is where I researched my technique.
 
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Step 1: Working with Meteoric Iron

There are a few guidelines to follow when working with meteoric iron:

0) Power tools are dangerous. Acid is dangerous. Wear goggles at all times. If you don't know how to use a tool, practice first.

1) High temperatures may damage the crystal structure. Do not heat it unnecessarily. Use hand tools if possible.

2) If you use a vice, pad it so that the vice metal does not contact the sample, to avoid creating nicks in the surface.

3) The sample must be extremely polished before applying acid. Fine grit sandpaper is a must. A polishing bit for a dremel tool is quite handy, so is polishing paste and a soft cloth for the final touches.

4) Try to create something as close as possible to the original shape of the sample, it will save you a lot of effort. This stuff is not so easy to cut, although if you're lucky enough to have a very small lathe (I'm not), this is not so important.

5) Meteoric iron is hard. If you try to drill a hole it it, make sure it is very secure, and be prepared for the drill bit to break and fly off in a random direction at high velocities. My safety goggles have a small piece gouged out where they stopped the prodigal drill bit from blinding me. WEAR GOGGLES.


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