Introduction: Get Gold From Steel

I'll start withs saying that for now, there are no possible ways to get gold from steel, however there are many ways to get the effect of golden texture, and I'll show you how I did it!

This is an easy project, for everyone, who has a blowtorch or a gas stove. This small project is good both for appearance of your things and for your knowledge about metalurgy!

All you need is:

  • Piece of steel,
  • Blowtorch or gas stove,
  • Pliers
  • And precision!

I used a small steel ring that I made from a coin!

Thanks to tomatoskins, Mrballeng, and many others for inspiration! The coin ring turned out great!

Step 1: Science

For me it's easier to do something if I understand how it works, and why something happens when I do it!

If steel has been freshly ground, sanded, or polished, it will form an oxide layer on its surface when heated. As the temperature of the steel is increased, the thickness of the iron oxide will also increase. Although iron oxide is not normally transparent, such thin layers do allow light to pass through, reflecting off both the upper and lower surfaces of the layer. This causes a phenomenon called thin-film interference, which produces colors on the surface. As the thickness of this layer increases with temperature, it causes the colors to change from a very light yellow, to brown, then purple, then blue. These colors appear at very precise temperatures, and provide the blacksmith with a very accurate gauge for measuring the temperature.

The table that can be seen in pictures is not very precise, because almost every steel has a different mixture of metals. So every steel changes colours at its own temperatures.

Also it's important to know that this layer of iron oxide IS NOT PERMANENT and it will fade with time if you wont coat it with varnish (or something else)!

Step 2: Heating

If you want the color to be bright, first thing you have to do is to polish the steel.

When polished, you simply take the piece of steel and start heating it, but be careful, as blowtorch can reach TEMPERATURE ABOVE 1000 CELSIUS, and because of that I suggest using smaller flame so you wouldn't overdo it. If you do overdo it, than that's not a problem, you can easly sand down the layer of iron oxide, and overdo it!

As I said earlier, if you do want to keep the colour, you have to varnish coat your piece of steel.

Have fun!

Information from:

  1. Wiki
  2. Wiki pictures
  3. Anvilfire

Comments

author
Mic100 (author)2015-03-11

Thank you very interresting

Voted :)

author
ElmarsM (author)Mic1002015-03-11

Thank you too!

author
agis68 (author)2015-03-11

great instructable...thanks for sharing voted

author
ElmarsM (author)agis682015-03-11

Thank you!

author
Olek410 (author)2015-03-08

Does this work on other metals? Because I made a quarter ring and wanted to know if I could change the color using this method. Still great instructable, I also voted on the tools contest and the science contest for your instructable. Hope you win!

author
dakotarios (author)Olek4102015-03-10

Mdeblasi1 is correct. I would get a small torch (lowes is where I got mine) and just experiment. if your working with quarters be careful of the nickel plating on them.

author
mdeblasi1 (author)Olek4102015-03-10

Different metals oxidize differently.
Some of the oxidation / heat patination you can get on copper is tremendous, but unstable.
The most difficult metal to do this on would be sterling, you will get fire stain, I believe, before you get a heat patina.

author
Battlespeed (author)Olek4102015-03-08

Yes it does.

http://youtu.be/xBPFP2IkIYM

author
Olek410 (author)Battlespeed2015-03-09

Thanks Battlespeed!

author
ElmarsM (author)Olek4102015-03-08

I think that it does work on other metals, but the colours might differ from those that are shown for steel! If it's made out of copper alloy, then it will work! Thank you for the vote! I appreciate it!

author
Battlespeed (author)ElmarsM2015-03-08

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBPFP2IkIYM

author
3967 (author)2016-07-05

maybe You could use an Heatairgun with temperature control . They can Reach 450-700 Degrees Celsius depending on the Model.

author
3dcats (author)2015-06-08

This site is so full of wonderful people and info. Now I know why my cooking pots are rainbow coloured : )

author
mickkell (author)2015-03-12

I did that in HS back in the late 60s from a Silver Quarter ,turned it to Gold color too.

author
ElmarsM (author)mickkell2015-03-12

Nice!

author
mickkell (author)ElmarsM2015-03-31

Thanks.

author
david.lister.1671 (author)2015-03-20

How ironic.

I spent two days last week REMOVING the heat colourisation from the tig welded joints of a load of stainless steel arms using industrial scouring pads.

Where i work are too stupid or tight(really not sure) to let us use chemical dips.

author
Kaiven (author)2015-03-13

If you wanted the gold color precisely, wouldn't it be easier to just leave it in the oven at 250C for a while? Then let it cool and varnish it? Or would letting it try to oxidize for too long of a period make the color wrong?

author
ElmarsM (author)Kaiven2015-03-14

It's true, it is more precise to place it in oven, and the colour would be the same, however for such a small piece of steel it's more effiecient to use a blowtorch rather than oven! If you wanted to colour a knife or a sword blade than using oven is much easier!

author
rhkramer (author)2015-03-10

Where did you get a steel coin? (I guess an alternate to a steel coin could be a steel washer...)

Also, what did you use as a varnish, and did it change the color very much?

author
sublingual (author)rhkramer2015-03-10

US pennies were also made of steel (coated with zinc) in 1943, so you could use one of those ;)

author
rhkramer (author)sublingual2015-03-10

Ahh, yes--good point--thank you! (Of course, I'd need to avoid breathing the zinc vapors.)

author
sublingual (author)rhkramer2015-03-11

Yeah, I wouldn't mass-produce zinc rings in a closet ;)

author
ElmarsM (author)rhkramer2015-03-10

I took the most suitable coin from my coin stash, Czech 10 korun (http://en.ucoin.net/catalog/?tag=10_kc)

I didn't varnish it, but the colour shouldn't change!

author
rhkramer (author)ElmarsM2015-03-10

Thanks!

author
rhkramer (author)ElmarsM2015-03-10

Thanks!

author
diyseguy (author)2015-03-11

awesome! I love the oxidation look after running metal through a torch. Never thought you could control the color. Fave!

author
ElmarsM (author)diyseguy2015-03-11

I'm glad you find this useful!

author
diyseguy (author)2015-03-11

awesome! I love the oxidation look after running metal through a torch. Never thought you could control the color. Fave!

author
charlesian2000 (author)2015-03-10

It depends entirely on the metal, some metals it will work, some will have a limited colour range and some it with work with at all.

Pure elements don't really get a colour change with heat. Steel will because it is not a pure element.

Titanium will have a limited colour change with heat, grey, purple and blue can be obtained by heating.

These colour changes are surface changes, and will scratch off.

There are other methods to apply colour to metals.

This instructible is a very good start.

author
Azzurro (author)2015-03-10

I really like this instructable. I'm fond of steel, and also smart things like this. Well done. :)

author
ElmarsM (author)Azzurro2015-03-10

Thank you!

author
Robnelson (author)2015-03-10

This is Alchemy! or is it Witchcraft?

:)

author
ElmarsM (author)Robnelson2015-03-10

It's more alchemy than witchcraft for sure! :)

author
smithraj (author)2015-03-10

In last of the post yours line --

Have fun! --- -Really its fun OR true to Get gold from steel..OR only fun ?

author
ElmarsM (author)smithraj2015-03-10

If you read the instructable, you should understand that it's just effect of golden texture

author
SenKat (author)2015-03-10

I was GONNA call shenanigans from the title....nice description, excellent execution, and i am saving that color chart !!

author
ElmarsM (author)SenKat2015-03-10

Thanks!

author
Corinbw (author)2015-03-09

so this would work to make a blue ring also? Or any of those colors. This makes me really want to make a blue ring. How did you get your hands on that ring.

author
ElmarsM (author)Corinbw2015-03-08

Yes! you can make it any of those colours, but be careful, because it's easy to overheat it! I made this ring from a coin!

author
matt1a (author)2015-03-08

Very useful instructble! Nice chart with precise temperatures, I was searching something like this for long weeks.
Keep going!

author
ElmarsM (author)matt1a2015-03-08

I'm happy that this helps you!

author
deluges (author)2015-03-08

Hey thanks for putting accurate temperatures on the colors of steel it's so useful !

Thanks for posting

author
ElmarsM (author)deluges2015-03-08

No problem man! Glad you like it!

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Bio: I'm a simple guy from a simple country called Latvia. I enjoy making useful (and sometimes not so useful) stuff to make people around ... More »
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