Step 3: Degrease the Metal

I am assuming you already have a clean iron/steel object that is free of any paint or other protective coating. If not you need to strip the finish first before performing this step. I won't go into detail about how to do that since that information is readily available. Read the label on the container of paint stripper if you use that. I used paint stripper to remove the sun-baked paint from my bell. I had to give it a second treatment to remove all traces of paint. I used a paint scraper to remove most of the paint but the paint around the rust spots required the use of an abrasive pad, wetted with the paint stripper, and a lot of elbow grease. Obviously wear goggles and gloves to do this. Nasty stuff.

Once you have clean metal you need to degrease it so chemicals will penetrate the surface. Again wearing goggles and gloves, apply degreaser according to instructions on the bottle. Be sure to remove all dirt and grime as well as oils from the metal. Rinse it well to remove all traces of degreaser. Rinse your gloves well before handling the degreased metal. You don't want to add back any dirt or oil. Don't touch the metal with bare hands or you will make oily fingerprints which might show up on the final finish. Now take your objet d'art to the outdoor place where you will spray it with chemicals.

Picture below shows clean degreased metal ready for the next step.

<p>Hello,<br>I paint signs. I have a customer who would like a rusted steel sign, and I was thinking of preserving the lettering as shiny steel while rusting the background. This means I would need to mask off the letters so the muriatic acid doesn't eat through the mask. Does anybody know what I would use to coat out or mask the letters to keep them from rusting? </p>
Do the opposite, rust the whole sign and then grind the raised letters back shiny?
<p>Bee's wax...Ever heard of a copper plate or steel plate engraving? What they would do is coat a plate of metal in bee's wax. Then they would scratch their design out and apply the acid. When it ate away enough of the metal they would neutralize the acid and peel the wax off. The acid would only eat what the wax was not covering. These finished plate where then patted with ink and hard pressed into paper. It was used to make impressed images like this (a copper plate engraving of people making copper plate engravings...engrave-ception): https://topicsofcapricorn.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/copperplate-press-21.jpg</p>
<p>That might just work but the acid could creep under the wax at the edges of the design. Some type of paint might be more resistant.</p>
<p>No it won't. You melt the wax on. So the seal is very close. It conforms around the smallest changes in height. If it were Paraffin wax then yeah. But we're talking about bee's wax, it's a different beast. Just make sure what you re-expose for etching or aging is clean. even a thin film of left behind wax can prevent the acid from doing it's job.</p>
<p>Why is paraffin different? I think wax would melt in this case from the heat generated by a large surface area surrounding a smaller area. It would be different for thin lines.</p>
<p>Most beeswax has a higher ignition point (147F&deg;). While some paraffin wax might burn at 157F&deg; most of it is closer to 120F&deg;. And you just never know unless you know the source of your wax and can email the manufacturer (it's wildly different between manufacturers). So you get a higher on average known ignition point for starters.Another thing is that paraffin has much lower friction surface due to it's additives. This means it tends to be slicker and so it doesn't bind as well or as closely, to as many surfaces. It also tends to be more crumbly or flakey then beeswax. Lastly you cannot know how all paraffin wax may react with an acid. There are so many additives from so many brands that this isn't something that you can really predict.</p><p>The reasons we use mostly Paraffin wax today is that it is relatively cheap and easy to make in large quantities (it's a petroleum by-product). we can dye it easier (bee's wax begins as a light amber color and can get darker from there so you can really only go darker then the base color). And because it is smokeless. This makes it nice for candles. But beeswax is still the choice of craftsman who have a use for wax.</p><p>If your concerned about it melting under the heat generated by the metal reacting to the acid. You could invest the top layer of wax with a good amount of baking soda. This should raise it's ignition point and naturalize fumes that come in contact with it and most acid that touches it directly.<br></p>
<p>OK. Thanks.</p>
<p>Your welcome.</p>
Vaseline works for paint. You can rub it on the area you do not want paint to stick to and rub it off after painting, so it may work for rusting as well.
Hi, did you ever try this? Can you remember how you did it in the end. I want to do something similar with some signage at work and am looking for any advice. Thanks in advance :)
I know this sounds crazy but use finger nail polish to protect the lettering then use finger nail polish remover when finished
<p>I don't know about muriatic acid. You'd need something impervious to acids, like a plastic-based paint, acrylic, epoxy, but then you need to remove the paint without damaging the rust. Difficult. I see a lot of rusted metal signs that have laser-cut lettering. That'd be the way to go.</p>
<p>so I did the steps to some parts on a guitar I'm relicing. All turned out great but they are just hanging outside, I just finished them yesterday. Can I just leave them outside and they'll cure on their own? </p>
<p>Absolutely. That's exactly what I have done with the bell. The patina gets darker and deeper into the metal.</p>
<p>I don't want to do anymore to the parts of I don't have to. </p>
<p>Can you use Brakleen as a de-greaser prior to pickling? </p>
<p>I suppose you could but it is highly toxic, probably expensive, and there are much safer degreasers on the market.</p>
<p>Haw much af stof? Hydrogen Peroxide - haw much? i like get some 1 l... thanks</p>
<p>bottle caps? I want to rust them. Are they coated with something that prevents rusting? How long would they take to rust with this method? Thank you</p>
<p>I don't know. Are they painted? If so you have to strip the paint off and treat the bare metal with vinegar or other acid first. That should work no problem.</p>
<p>We are wanting to do this for a bar top...what would you use as a cover or finish on this type of thing?</p>
<p>I don't know. A matte powder coat would be ideal if possible. Very durable. Otherwise acrylic or polyurethane spray--many thin layers. Try a small area first.</p>
<p>How long does the item need to dry/cure before it can be exposed to the rain. I don't want the rain to wash off the top finish.</p>
<p>I put my bell out immediately. The patina only got a deeper color.</p>
<p>Hi Laral, </p><p>Thank you for the great article, very imformative :) I am just wondering can you safely add a clear preservative finish to this that will not destroy the rust and obviously stop any further rust from occurring?</p>
<p>Thanks for your appreciation. You can spray the final result, lightly, with clear acrylic to preserve the finish. Several people, in the comments, have applied a clearcoat powder coat.</p>
Hi Laral!<br>Thank you for this instruct able method. I have been searching forums and videos and Knife etching sites etc etc forever for something I could apply to my scrap metal sculptures that was in my kitchen pantry &amp; home. Your method is the best I've found! I saved it to my notes a few years ago and finally got to try it. Here are the results. First 2 are pics of the mild steel cut out &amp; welded piece. First step, I ground off scale and oxidation. Then I actually used just a few oz white vinegar to pickle the piece, then added half a tablespoon of salt, few more oz of vinegar and because I couldn't open the spray bottle of Hyde Perox I sprayed about 2 oz into that mixture in a glass measuring cup. Then poured that into the pickling spray can and commenced to see if it would work anyway. It did!!! See the last pic. One interesting thing is that I actually was able to get color from just spraying on the Hydrogen Peroxide after the first mixture was depleted and that seemed to have an even stronger effect. As you can see, I didn't want a uniform rust effect. I played around with dripping it and spraying in different patterns and even using my rubber gloved finger to smear it around. Now I will finish it with matte clear coat Rustileum to seal it. Thanks again!!!
<p>Thank you for your appreciation and for the feedback. Very interesting about using peroxide only, and varying the degree of rusting that way. The final results look great.</p>
Hello, the company I work for is hanging 7x5' Corten Steel panels on a 200' long wall. The patina on the steel panels is darker than we'd like. We're trying this formula to make it more orange. How long does it take after we spray it 4-7 times? Also how long do we need to wait before we seal it once we get the colour we want?
<p>It sounds like they already have a deep patina which you'd get after leaving them outside for a while or if the patina was created using strong acid. Did you try a patch to see if you can still create an orange patina on top of the old one? It's impossible to say how long it would take, but on bare clean metal the results are instant. It should be bone dry before sealing it. A heat gun would accelerate the drying.</p>
We came to the same conclusion about too deep of a patina after trying the solution on the back of one of the panels. Nothing really changed. I found that by wiping a dry cloth over the surface it lightened the colour a bit closer to what we are going for. Do you have any suggestions on reversing the patina to get back to more of an orange colour before we seal it?
<p>Another thing I am thinking is that the sealer would also darken the color so be aware of that and maybe try it on the back first.</p>
<p>I was afraid of that. There is no way to reverse it. The only way to get what you want would be to sand off or etch off the patina to bare metal and start over. If the patina is very shallow you could sand it off but it would be messy and a lot of work. You'd be best to take them down and work on them in a safe place. It is possible that sanding would rough up the patina and actually give you a lighter color. That would be easiest.</p>
<p> I had laser cut mild steel letters <br>and logos for a customers building. We did a muriatic and hydrogen <br>peroxide patina and the letters came out beautiful. I sent them out to <br>clear powder coat and the guys had ruined them. I had the powder coat <br>baked off and the metal sandblasted. We are trying to re-patina the <br>metal and it is just not biting into the metal at all. I have <br>re-sandblasted the metal a few times thinking maybe there was residual <br>powder coating somehow left behind. The only thing possibly different <br>now from the time we first did the set is the air temperature outside. <br>Is there anything we can do to get the rust to bite more into the metal <br>so when we neutralize it and rinse the rust does not come off the <br>surface? Does the air temp effect the process ( 1st time when the came <br>out great was upper 70's and now we are in the 100's )? Any direction <br>would be greatly appreciated.</p>
<p>What did the powder coat do? Why not just leave them as is and let nature take over? I see rusted iron signs all over the place and they are natural.<br><br>By bite do you mean form a deep patina or that it is not forming any patina now? If the latter, maybe the surface is too smooth. Did you try pickling it with acid again? That seems to be a necessary step. Read my section on pickling.<br><br>Higher air temp should accelerate the process. I did the bell in 100+ degrees direct sunlight.<br><br>Don't rinse it at all if you use the mild mixture that I recommended. I guess you would have to if you used muriatic acid but you say that removes the patina. So what is the advantage of using a caustic acid like that if it doesn't produce a deeper patina? Why not try this much safer mixture?</p>
We sprayed the acid a quite a few times on the metal prior to the hydrogen peroxide. I am thinking the acid is evaporating to quickly due to the heat now and not getting a chance to work.
<p>Ahhh! OK. Then why not put the letters in a plastic pail with a lid on it and just barely seal the lid to allow escaping gases. You can get 3 gal or 5 gal 'icing buckets' for free from Sam's club or any bakery.</p>
We need to clear coat the metal because it will be attached to a new building and do not want rust streaking down the building later. We have used the acid multiple times and had success always. The first time around they came out beautiful. After tne powder coat was ruined (to much was sprayed on and left extremly milky areas) and baked off we are now strugling with the patina getting the deep various colors.
<p>I was afraid of that. So now you have bare metal right? Did you try just acid to pickle it before using acid/peroxide mixture?</p>
<p>You think if if pour iron oxide on top of the clear coat on the hood of my car I would get this nice effect without it rusting??</p>
<p>I don't know. You mean a red iron oxide powder sprinkled onto wet clear coat? It would probably not look the same. It would be more uniform. Natural rust tends to have variations over the surface.</p>
<p>Iron oxide that you get when rusting steel wool completely. Mmm then I guess I'll have to sprinkle it uneven cuz I don't want my hood rusting for real. It may develop holes from that or damage it badly. I'll try to do this on a sample piece of metal first to see how it looks.</p>
<p>No you would not want to rust the metal itself. Try a sample piece like you said. The only thing is, it may very well wear off in time and will not look good. Then you will have to strip it and start over.</p>
<p>I posted this before but there is no way to link to it so I'll just quote it: <br><br>Have a look at: <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20080108073034/http://asuwlink.uwyo.edu/~metal/patinas.html" rel="nofollow">https://web.archive.org/web/20080108073034/http://asuwlink.uwyo.edu/~metal/patinas.html</a> -- the second formula. I got a sal ammoniac block from Ace at the time but I don't see it now at their website. I found that eBay has ammonium chloride powder cheaper than what I paid for the block. It would also dissolve much easier than the hard block.<br><br>Very easy to do, cheap, works great.<br><br>Here is my sample done on a copper tubing end cap.</p>
<p>how do you patinate copper or brass ?</p>
Here are my results so far... i had already stripped and sanded down this fender to bare metal... then rinsed with water, sprayed with white vinegar, then with the mix of vinegar/hydrogen peroxide /salt. .. so far i think 3 times ive done the treatment... thank you for this post - I plan on making this into a mailbox! I'll update the progress.
Well, it looks like it is rusting nicely. Please do post the final result.
<p>Hi Laral, I recently applied your treat formula on some corten steel planters. About 12 hours after I applied the treatment, it rained non-stop for two days. The steel is orange in color and has not darkened. What do I need to do to darken it? Is there anyway to get the two planters to match quicker (doesnt have to be perfect but somewhat better than now).</p><p>BTW, I applied your treatment to the other planters about 5 months ago. </p>
<p>Hi David,</p><p>Note if this is made from Corten then it will stay a lot lighter then raw steel.</p><p>Corten has an Orange colour to it, as you can see in Image attached.<br>The fresh bit was installed today.</p><p>Kind Regards,</p><p>Rogan</p>

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