Etching Chemicals

I’ve been having a happy afternoon researching chemical suppliers. The two solutions I’ve decided to target are the Edinburgh Etch and the etching solutions using Copper Sulphate. There is lots of information here. I’m going to be studying that website in detail next.

The Edinburgh Etch, as I have discovered this afternoon, was in fact invented at the Edinburgh Printmaker‘s studio! It consists of a solution of Ferric Chloride and Citric Acid.

The Copper Sulphate based solutions are either copper sulphate by itself, or in solution with Sodium Chloride.

Obtaining these chemicals has occupied my afternoon. Many chemical suppliers either do not supply private individuals, or charge outrageous amounts. However, I found Mistral sell both Copper Sulphate and Citric Acid pretty cheaply, and appear to sell to private individuals. They charge 12 quid postage from ireland->UK though.

Sodium Chloride is obviously obtainable everywhere.

Ferric Chloride is used in electronics for etching circuit boards, so you can buy it from Maplin fairly cheaply.

So I reckon that is my chemical supplies sorted. These four should suffice, as I have absolutely no intention of getting involved with scary things such as Nitric Acid.

Next up is to obtain pricing for metal plate. kindly gave me some pieces of brass to play with initially, but eventually I’m going to want more.

Edinburgh Printmakers will sell me copper of various sizes, as well as Zinc. They don’t do brass as that is not a typical printmaker’s material. I’m not sure I’m so interested in Zinc, but I’ve asked them for pricing.

Tomorrow, I’m going to do the rounds of the various places I’ve been recommended: suggested Harbourn hobbies and Wonderland. NealF suggested trying Murray’s tools for recommendations of plumber’s merchants. I hear from the web that roofing copper tends to be much cheaper than art-supply copper (If you’re not concerned with slight evidence of machine milling of the sheet).

Since I’ll be near Maplin I’ll try and nab some Ferric Chloride as well.

reminded me at ‘s party of bubble tanks: they agitate the solution by driving bubbles of air through it to speed and improve the etching process, which would be good. I remember invesigating commercially produced ones years ago (for circuit boards), but they were fairly expensive then. Something else to research!

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