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Making Ferric Chloride (video)


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Here's a video I just shot and uploaded to YouTube. This is the process I use to make my own ferric chloride for etching San Mai and Damascus knife blades. The ratio is fairly simple, 2 parts hydrogen peroxide to one part ferrous chloride. The first step in this video demonstrates how to make ferrous chloride, the second step changes it rapidly to our desired ferric chloride. Perhaps someone will find it useful. :)

J

NOTE Proper safety protocols state to always add acid, so  to make a correction to this video one needs to add the ferrous chloride to the hydrogen peroxide.

 

 

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That's awesome. I've always loved chemistry but never knew I could use it at home/in the shop for somethin useful like this. Thanks for sharin with us.

​Thank you, I love making these videos.. lol.. but I always said, that if I knew at 17 what I know now about the chemistry, physics and math involved in blacksmithing (and bladesmithing specifically) I probably would have been turned off, but now I really love it.. I get to be a scientist every day.. granted, probably more along the mad line and greasy, dirty, soot and coal covered sweaty one, but a scientist none the less.. :)

J

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Suggestion. Always have a safe place to put any chemically contaminated material such as the straw you laid on the table. That way it does not transfer acid to the table, and you can simply roll up the paper, or wash the container when your finished. The one thing about home brew chemistry is that people do not take all the precautions that they would in a lab, and do not wipe down all the surfaces when they finish.

Good video and useful information.

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Suggestion. Always have a safe place to put any chemically contaminated material such as the straw you laid on the table. That way it does not transfer acid to the table, and you can simply roll up the paper, or wash the container when your finished. The one thing about home brew chemistry is that people do not take all the precautions that they would in a lab, and do not wipe down all the surfaces when they finish.

Good video and useful information.

​There's about 12" of that workbench not visible, and there was a piece of wax paper there, but with operating a camera, construction going on nearby and countless other distractions it wasn't actually used in the video.. lol this is what happens when you try to film by yourself - but every damp spot got a good dusting of baking soda afterwords. :) Thanks for the kind words though!

J

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  • Glenn pinned this topic

Pretty good video. You seem to be a good coffee shop buddy kind of guy.

I'd sure like to see a little better PPE, like an apron drop the beaker of muriatic acid and you're unprotected from a splash. You're old and aware enough to take chances but there are a lot of kids who've never handled anything more dangerous than a cup of espresso watching you.

All in all a pretty good video, it's easy to understand what you're saying and see what you're doing. I give it a well done.

Frosty The Lucky.

Edited by Frosty
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Very good video and all safety precautions were well explained. Thanks for explaining the different grades of Hydrogen Peroxide. Not everyone knows you can get from 3% up to a 50% solution.

What are you looking for when adding the Hydrogen peroxide to know when you have added enough?

 

Edited by Jammer
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Very good video and all safety precautions were well explained. Thanks for explaining the different grades of Hydrogen Peroxide. Not everyone knows you can get from 3% up to a 50% solution.

What are you looking for when adding the Hydrogen peroxide to know when you have added enough?

 

The ratio is 2 parts hydrogen peroxide to 1 part FeCl2. Add the H2O2 slowly, wait for the visible reaction to slow down completely then add more until you've hit the correct ratio. When using something as strong as 9% or 12% H2O2 be sure you're mixing in Pyrex or another heat capable vessel as the reaction is a little more aggressive and the exothermic reaction can release temperatures in excess of 140F! There is some math needed to figure out dilution for blade etching, but I've experienced great results straight as mixed using 5% H2O2 and 31.54% HCl. This isnt like the FeCl3 you get at radio shack where it has to be diluted prior to blade etching.

J

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Yes, you said that in your post, should have read it closer.

I've made my own Sodium Silicate for casting. It's very exothermic. I've got lab beakers and flasks, and am pretty careful. Still freaks my wife out.

Edited by Jammer
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  • 1 year later...
  • 11 months later...

Great video, short and to the point.

I have just forge welded my first ever damascus billet and will ultimately be forging it into a small dagger and this is just what I wanted to know, tomorrow I will he heading over to Lowes to pick up some acid :) Thanks for the work you had to put in to make this (I know how much effort even a short vid takes)

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J.W.S.,

Very good video. Understandable, and well presented. 

Thanks,

I have several suggestions concerning making the reaction more safely.  Using corrosive chemicals such as muriatic acid (about 40% hydrochloric acid, HCl), or highly reactive chemicals such hydrogen peroxide H2O2 requires care.  Some considerations are vapor, and splash.  The main potential problems are acid splashes in this process. The 5% peroxide is not wildly corrosive. (it would cause problems but is not drastic, and is easily flushed and wiped away).  Acid is another matter. It is corrosive and gets to work as soon as it makes contact.  I would use longer gloves. Gloves like those that are used for washing cars. Those gloves cover the hands and are long enough to go to a point about midway between the wrist and the elbow. Plastic or rubber is recommended. HCl does not attack them. But it will corrode cotton etc.   I would do the chemistry on a surface that is covered by a plastic sheet. Like a plastic table cloth.

Pouring one liquid from a container into another is not the safest way. Tilting the recipient vessel to an approximate thirty degree angle and pouring the liquid down the side of the recipient vessel avoids splashing. Pour it slowly.  Eye goggles protect the eyes from an acid splash but the rest of the face should also be covered. A full plastic face shield is a better precaution.  A full length smock, or a leather, or thick fabric, apron will protect skin and clothing.  For vapor protection, I suggest that the process be carried out of doors. Especially if large volumes of chemicals will be used. very large quantities may require a fan. Doing so in a semi-sheltered spot out of the wind is a good concept. Being away from inquisitive neighbors or especially children is advisable. Standing upwind is also a good idea.  Most of the time small amounts of ferric chloride would be needed so it is not necessary to do the process outdoors. But having adequate ventilation is a must. Hydrochloric acid fumes will attack the lining of the lungs. Emphysema is a pain.  One of the first things to do if acid contacts your skin is to flush the acid with a lot of water. So having one or two gallon jugs of water nearby is a very effective precaution. Milk jugs work fine for this

The author has wisely warned against having an open flame near the reaction vessels. He states that very flammable hydrogen is produced during. That it includes lit cigarettes, or an active forge. Explosions and resultant burns can be very serious and painful.  The above points are written to make the reaction a safer process. It is not written to discourage anyone form making the chemical. 

Make it and have an etching good time.

SLAG.

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  • 3 months later...

Always skeptical of things from the internet but... I saw a home brew made up of 450 ml muriatic acid used to devolve one pad of steel wool overnight.  Next day 1 qt of hydrogen peroxide was added slowly.  Let the reaction die down and use.  I got impatient and tried it.  It worked on a small billet of chain saw chain I made.  It does seem to have a short shelf life.  Has anyone else tried this or using a home brew?  How long will commercially made ferric chloride last?  And when etched how long does the contrast last.  I took the chain saw billet and made the wife a bracelet. I hardened it and etched.  She has worn it everyday for about 6 months (score for me) and the contrast is fading.  The etch still shows the different metals.  Fact of life or the wrong etchant?  I have not done any more pattern welded billets so I still have not tried the commercial ferric chloride.  Should I?

 

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Proper safety protocols state to always add acid,  if not one has an increased risk of splashing of the exothermic reaction upon its  addition.

so  to make a correction to this video one needs to add the ferrous chloride to the hydrogen peroxide.

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  • 1 year later...

Hey all, I know ferric chloride can get expensive and I'm all for saving some money so if this hasn't already been posted I figured it would be useful for someone.

I don't own the video but I've used the recipe in the video below and it works very well. As always safety first!

 

Duplicate video removed

 

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  • Glenn locked this topic

I was going to mention the exothermic properties, but someone already mentioned it.  I might also add that purchasing the stronger varieties of Hydrogen Peroxide will get the attention of three letter agencies, as it has certain umm...ilicit uses, which is as much as I will say on the matter.

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  • 4 months later...

Yes Matt, that would be my video. I've actually got a follow-up in the works. It's been rather popular on youtube in the 5 years since I made it. Whenever I get that illusive "free" time and when in-person local shopping isn't a major hassle I'll revisit it with an updated version!

-J

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