Salt Water Copper Etched

Salt Water Etching Copper

Hi Everyone!

I have been off experimenting with lots of stuff- resin, molds, metal, etching etc. I showed some friends some of my experiments and they asked for some tips on how I did Salt Water etching on copper. There are loads of full tutorials on this subject with all the gory details on why and how this process works, so I just did a quick video on the items I used for the Salt Water etching process.

I started out with 9 volt batteries, as mentioned in many of the videos, but they quickly ran out of juice, so I went on to using a car battery charger. The one I used is 12 volts and it already comes with the negative and positive clamps already set up. In my video, it isn’t very clear in the section where I talk about the actual copper that I am going to etch. This piece of copper is place in the etching salt water bath, but there must be a piece of copper that sticks out of the water so that the positive (red) clamp can attach to the copper without the clamp going in the water. Most folks attach a piece of copper wire to the back of the copper to be etched with tape (since a lot of folks use tape on the back to protect it from being etched. I found that was a pain. Other folks drill a hole in the copper to be etched and make a hook from the wire and hang the copper piece from the wire. I didn’t want a hole in my bracelet blank. So, I used flat (thicker) bezel wire and hooked/wrapped the wire around the copper piece so that the wire was touching the copper and then the rest of the wire hooked over the edge of the container while the piece of copper could be sitting in the water. The red clamp could be attached to the wire  and that worked fine for the etching process.

I stress that caution should be used at all times when using this process. I do not touch any part of the set up, unless the battery charger is turned off. So first I get all the pieces set up, and only then do I turn on the charger while staying away from the salt water container. If I need to check or tweak something I turn the charger OFF and only then will I touch any part of the set up.

So with those dire warnings aside- here is the video. Enjoy!

Here are some of the items I have etched with the Salt Water process:

Salt Water Copper Etched
Salt Water Copper Etched
Salt Water Copper Etched
Salt Water Copper Etched


    Keep in mind that the salt (composed of sodium chloride) in this process emits chlorine gas which is very toxic. Always do this etching outdoors. You can use the same process with copper nitrate, which does not emit toxic gases. There is an article by Ben Dory recently published by SNAG about this safer process.

    Thanks Deitra!

    Here is what I am using now- this guy has done a lot of work in safer etching processes:

    WoW , thanks

    WoW thanks

    Thanks Bill! I should have at least another one on etching coming out soon!

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