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Ferric Chloride Safety


Zach Wade
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Ok so I have a blade that I will be etching soon, again, been etching, gotta resand, some low grit scratches running right along the hamon obscuring it that didnt show up til i run a test etch at 600 grit, but that's not the point.

So when I get it back to 1 or 2k I am planning on running a few ferric chloride etches before I switch to alternating lemon juice and vinegar.

Anything that I need to know that I haven't found? Not a whole lot on storage and handling precautions

Obviously gloves and safety glasses.

Can I rinse it down the drain safely? I believe so. Sounds like people neutralize with Windex and rinse down the drain. 

Any well marked plastic bottle fine for storing the diluted solution or should I use glass? It came in a plastic bottle so obviously some plastics are okay.

I believe I've used the stuff before but that was many years ago in a sink designed for making circuit boards.

If this is the wrong place for this please move it to the shop safety section.

Edited by Zach Wade
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Ferric chloride can be stored in HDPE or high density polyethylene :) . Whether you can flush it down the drain  or not - depending on the amount, something like 1-2 quarts/ 1-2 litres shouldn't be a big deal to flush, just use large amounts of water when you flush it.

 

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Dunno what happens when you use Windex but the stuff does have a specific warning about nasty fumes and ammonia. Possibly just a standard warning put on all chemicals, dunno. I wouldn't think it would make chlorine gas but my chemistry is rusty 

There's the knife with the blurry hamon

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Zach, I don't think there is anything that safe to mix with ammonia.

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I know. That's why I was hesitant to use windex to wash off FeCl etchant, many formulations contain ammonia, that's why I decided to use baking soda. I know people use Windex for that but it sounds like what might be a bad idea, might release chemicals in small amounts that are harmful that you don't even notice.

However after a little research I believe that it will form a salt(ammonium chloride)which will only release gaseous hcl at high temps, still don't really wanna mess with it.

Edited by Zach Wade
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Zach:

FC is safer than spoiled milk or balsamic vinegar . . . okay, maybe not literally, but almost. Don't worry. Just basic safety, like Alan said, don't drink it, keep it out of your eyes, etc. 

Yes, you can neutralize FC with Windex. It's been done thousands of times and no one has been hurt. 

Luck in the quest!

Dave

 

 

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Mind if I chip in with a few related questions?

I used Windex (Windowlene) to neutralize, but I always wash the blade with an ammonia-based cleaning agent afterwards, and that makes the etch go darker.

Also, when I use a brass scrubber there seems to be some reaction and a nice brassy colour, any way to make it durable?

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I can't answer Gerhard's question, but for those worried about chemistry, Ferric Chloride is not technically an acid.  It is a corrosive salt that reacts in a similar way to an acid.  The amount of ammonia in Windex is miniscule.  Just enough to make it slightly alkaline, which is how it neutralizes ferric chloride instantly.  By the way, plain tap water also neutralizes FC, since it's not an acid all you really need to do is wash it off.  We use windex only because it helps remove the black sludge better than water alone.  Any detergent/surfactant will do this.  

It's good to be aware of potential dangers of chemical reactions, like how mixing chlorine bleach and ammonia will liberate chlorine gas and potentially kiil you.  This is not one of those situations.

Ferric chloride is produced by adding iron to hydrochloric acid until the hydrogen has all "burned" away.  Zinc chloride soldering flux is exactly the same except (you guessed it) zinc is dissolved instead of iron.  The chlorine atom is indeed nasty on its own, no two ways about it.  When bound with a metal like iron, zinc, or especially sodium, it is merely slightly corrosive and almost impossible to release.  Think about it: Sodium chloride, or table salt, is not much different from these other choride salts, and you eat it every day.  Have you ever accidentally produced chlorine gas with it? It is nigh impossible under normal circumstances.  Perhaps adding pure fuming ammonia to a bucket of salt, but you can't get pure fuming ammonia these days.  You can pour windex in your salt shaker all day and end up with nothing more than ruined salt.

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6 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Have you ever accidentally produced chlorine gas with it?

No, just some other nasty gasses... possibly with some hydrogen sulphide thrown in.

"The way we win matters" (Ender Wiggins) Orson Scott Card

 

Nos, qui libertate donati sumus, nes cimus quid constet.

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