How to Do Vinegar Metal Etching

Updated July 20, 2017

Vinegar etching is a technique used to erode the surface of metals. Etching using vinegar can be used to erode upper layers of the metal and create specific surface qualities. This enables paints and solutions to be applied to surfaces that paint doesn't normally adhere to. Etching with vinegar also enables the engraver to create free form patterns which incorporate unique artistic styles. This is achieved by using a material which is resistant to vinegar on the metal surface. This technique allows crafted patterns to be created.

Ensure the metal plate wanting to be etched into is clean. This can be done with the use of a cloth.

Heat the wax in a microwave until it melts. Ensure a consistent solution is formed. Spread the wax on the surface of the metal and allow to dry for up to three hours.

Using an etching needle, engrave into the solidified wax and remove any material that isn't needed. The surface of the metal should be revealed in locations where etching is desired.

Ensure the metal plate is flat and pour on the vinegar until the surface of the metal is covered. Leave the metal plate overnight to allow the vinegar to etch into the metal properly.

Drain the vinegar from the surface of the metal and remove the wax to reveal etching.


Use protective gloves and goggles when using vinegar. Skin exposure to vinegar for long periods of time can be uncomfortable, as can exposure of vinegar to the eyes.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal plate
  • Dry cloth
  • Wax
  • Vinegar
  • Etcher's needle
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