DIY – Metal Etching Hack

Metal Etching has traditionally been done on copper plates or zinc plates using acid to create the design. With the rise in copper and zinc prices and a growing interest in the art, alternative metals and etching mediums made from household ingredients have recently been discovered!

copper plate for etching

Traditional Etched Copper plates by Lost Art Creations


Mild Steel and Stainless Steel are both increasingly common choices for artisans to use in metal etching. Especially if the plan is to use the etching as a printing plate, as these metals are very sturdy even as thin sheets. For a complete tutorial on etching steel, check-out this tutorial on wikiHow >>
Etched Steel Wall Panels

Etched steel can be used for printing plates or simply as decorative objects


Growing concerns about the health effects of acids and solvents has led to the development of less toxic etching methods. One etching system uses acrylic polymer as a ground and ferric chloride for etching. The polymers are removed with sodium carbonate (washing soda) solution, rather than solvents. When used for etching, ferric chloride does not produce a corrosive gas, as acids do, thus eliminating another danger of traditional etching. Acrylic polymer etching can also be done successfully on softer metals such as aluminum sheet.
Saltwater etching is another alternative method that can be done with household ingredients, and on the cheap! However, while the ingredients are mild this method does product toxic gas that should not be breathed in. So, exercise caution!
Etched Metal Copper Jewelry

Etched copper jewelry pendant


Another great way to enjoy etching metal is to create smaller pieces for jewelry.  Acid etching jewelry has been a common practice for hundreds of years, with artisans from many cultures relying on the technique to create original designs on metal. The most common metals used for this are copper plate, copper foilbrass plate and brass foil.
Here is a great tutorial on how to etch on brass and copper for beautiful metal jewelry and art objects >>
Etched brass and copper bracelet

Etched copper bracelet is a work of art!


If you do decide to try out some etching, send us photos of your handy work! We love to see what our community is up to. Photos and descriptions can be emailed to us at sales(at)onlinemetals(dot)com