Steel can be dissolved with a diluted solution of nitric acid and water. The chemical make up of nitric acid reacts to the iron in steel, producing iron nitrate and hydrogen gas. As this chemical reaction takes place, the steel begins to dissolve. The dissolving process of steel can sometimes take multiple applications, depending on the size and thickness of the metal. Always take appropriate safety precautions when using acid to dissolved steel.
Put on acid resistant safety goggles and gloves and cover skin to protect yourself from injury. Acid is very caustic and can cause serious injury if skin is exposed to it.
Create a dissolving solution by combining the nitric acid with water. For the effective dissolution of steel, the solution should be made up of 50 to 70 per cent nitric acid and 30 to 50 per cent water. The solution should be made by slowly adding the nitric acid to the water in an acid-resistant container. Create enough of this solution to fully submerge the steel you are trying to dissolve.
Cut the metal into smaller pieces with a hacksaw if you are trying to dissolve a large piece of steel.
Submerge the piece or pieces of steel in the nitric acid solution. Be careful to avoid splashing as you put the metal into the nitric acid.
Allow the steel to sit in the nitric acid and dissolve. Depending on the thickness and size of the steel this can take several hours to overnight.
Repeat steps one through five with a fresh nitric acid solution to dissolve any bits of steel remaining after 24 hours.
Always use nitric acid in well-ventilated areas as it is dangerous to inhale its fumes.
Tips and warnings
- Always use nitric acid in well-ventilated areas as it is dangerous to inhale its fumes.