How to Anodize Silver

Written by alan edwards
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A metal that is highly polished, silver is easily anodised. The way to change the colour of silver without ruining the silver piece of jewellery, coin or perhaps a souvenir medal, is through the scientific process know as anodising. The anodising process can be used to tint a silver item to give it an antique look or to make it display exotic colours.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Gloves
  • Two tablespoons of sodium hydroxide or lye
  • One tablespoon of sulphur
  • Half a cup of water
  • Coffee Filter
  • 2 Glass containers
  • 3-volt battery
  • 2 lengths of wire
  • Wooden spatula
  • Silver Piece

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  1. 1

    Put on the gloves. Pour a half cup of water into the glass container. Then combine two tablespoons of sodium hydroxide or lye with one tablespoon of sulphur in the water. Mix with the wooden spatula for ten minutes or until the solution changes colour to orange.

  2. 2

    Use the coffee filter as a strainer and pour the solution from one glass container into the other through the coffee filter. This strains out any excess sulphur that did not dissolve in the solution.

  3. 3

    Carefully clean all grease and dirt from the silver piece to be anodised. Place the silver piece into the solution.

  4. 4

    Connect the silver piece, using one of the two wires, to the positive terminal of the 3-volt battery. Connect the other wire to the negative terminal of the battery and place the wire into the solution without touching the silver piece

  5. 5

    Pass the negative wire through the solution, again do not touch the silver piece being anodised with the wire. By moving the wire through the solution, the silver will get an even patina. For a rainbow effect, keep the negative wire in one place. The colour anodised is time-dependent. The longer the silver is in the electrically charged solution, the darker it will get. Once the surface is black, anodising further will not cause additional colour change.

Tips and warnings

  • Before anodising an important silver piece it is a good idea to practice on a different piece of silver. Should you make a mistake, the anodising process can be reversed by electro chemistry.
  • Anodising solution is corrosive, wear gloves when working with it. It is also toxic, so keep it away from children and pets. Do not use a battery rated more than 3-volts.

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