Stainless steel chemical coloring ???

Has any of you tried to color stainless by any process other than torch coloring? I Know there`s electrocolored stainless sold, but I`d like to get myself some of those amazing colors you get when iridiating copper for instance. Any chem treatment for stainless coloring???

Rich Waugh's picture

I'm not aware of any,

I'm not aware of any, Nelson, other than what you can get with heat. If you want radical oxide colors, titanium is the metal to try - incredible, the colors you get with that stuff.

NELSON's picture

metal coloring stuff

Hi Rich. Excuse my taking so long to read and answer your
replies.I live down in south America- Venezuela and when someone posts I may just be sleeping or at work.You may probably hear about this mad man we got for president, yes he`s the one and only one: Mr.Chavez... for God`s sake... back to topic! Continuing with this metal coloring stuff, I`ve tried heat coloring copper and you get some interesting rainbows, blues and greens like coming right from the soul of the metal, unfortunately thay`re skin deep and fade away too soon. I`ve tried to document myself on the subject but have not found sound advice on how to keep iridized copper colors. Many coats of a polyurathane, automobil clear coating, or what ! Never tried titanium, guess it`s expensive metal. Hear columbium gets some beutiful colors and it`s used in jewlery.Down here it`s not easy to get advanced tools or equipment, so much has to be done the hard way, but there`s always room for creativity.Thank you buddy. You Know I always hated computer related stuff, but I relized it`s a must to be able to use this incredible tool, so I`ve gotta learn to post pix on! There are some ignorant folks out there huh!

Bill Roberts's picture

fwiw, there are a variety of

fwiw, there are a variety of colors possible on stainless, with a ferric oxide patina. Both John Simms and Heath Satow have done a lot with this. check out the colors on these stainless "critters". Golds to reds and purples.


hope this helps with alternatives. :) 

NELSON's picture


Hi Bill R. and Giusseppe, and thanks for advice. Bill I`m gonna try spilling some acids on and see what happens, but I`d think a ferric oxide patina could contaminate stainless and it could turn into a bad case of corrosion specially outdoors. Those stainless critters look great and don`t seem badly afected at all by that kind of patina. What about the stainless rust after carbide depositing due heating? Do I know what I`m saying? Bye guys !

visitor's picture

spilling acids

my partner and I have recently tried brushing oxalic acid with heated suface temps only to find that the acids revert quickly to their salt forms with limited effects to surface coloration on mild steel ss steel and titanium. We are also looking to achieve coloration without electro plating or anodizing. As previously mentioned titanium has the best results but is cost prohibitive and incorporating other metals in our scultpures desireable. I look forward to trying ferric chloride as there has been more than one reference that this is an alternative worth looking into.

Giusseppe's picture

heat colours

Hi Nelson .... you can get a fantastic range of colours simply by heating stainless in varying environments ... no need for chemicals other than those used to clean.

have a look at and if there is a particular surface that you like let me know and I will try to help.


visitor's picture

colouring stainless steel

Could you please explane varying environments for colour changing, thanks Steve.

Giusseppe's picture

whatch out with chemical colouring

Just a warning ....stainless coloured with chemicals is rarely stable ....You need a reliably dry place for such a finish to look good for years.
You do not need titanium to get the wide range of oxide colours from heat ....316 will give you those.
The trick is to get a rich gold surface slowly then force other colours in on top ....this way you get more depth and more control ....for bars, an induction heater or an industrial oven such as a kiln or a glass blowers leer can yield fantastic finishes.

Where to bend next ...

Stephen Fitz-Gerald's picture

acid patinas for stainless

Stephen Fitz-Gerald
Matt the patina guy (on this site)does all the acid colorings for my stainless pieces.
while it is true that some of these thicker opaque colorings can wear off,the more transparent ones seem to hold up better to heavy wear.Here's an image of Celtic Ring Pulls I did for the local Episcopal Church. They are made of forged stainless steel,then treated for the coloring to match other copper and brass accents on the massive doors.
 Ring Pulls in forged stainless steel with acid patina.Celtic Ring Pulls: Ring Pulls in forged stainless steel with acid patina.