Get Gold From Steel




About: 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 me happier!

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



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    45 Discussions


    3 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    6 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    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.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    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!


    1 year ago

    If you want to prevent the steel from scratching away, quench it in motor oil. used motor oil could give it an even black look. otherwise, it should preserve the colour.


    2 years ago

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


    3 years ago on Step 2

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

    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.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    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?

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    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!