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topic 27794

Safe, even black patina on zinc

A discussion started in 2002 & continuing through 2017


Q. What kind of finishes can I get on zinc? I'm a jewelry major and don't normally work with zinc, but I'm doing a photo etching process on some which will be incorporated with other metals. I was wondering what a good method for getting a dark patina on zinc would be. I believe that there's some solutions used for zinc that stained glass window makers use, but I haven't been able to really track any down. Thanks, Tim.

Timothy McMahon
- Brooklyn


A. Look in the book section of the home page for this site. There is an excellent book on Patinization. It would be a great addition for your personal library if the college does not have it.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


Q. We manufacture decorative panels of painted glass that has the appearance of stained glass,which we sell to stores around the country. We frame them in zinc. I would like to darken (antique) the zinc in some way that does not involve chemicals that pose a health or safety risk to our workers. Any ideas?.

Sheri McHenry
giftware designer - LaMirada, California, USA


A. Black for zinc:
200 gm iron chloride
1 lit water

Black for zinc II:

1 heaping teaspoon salt
2 heaping teaspoons cooper sulphate
1 cup water(200 ccm)

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

To minimize searching and offer multiple viewpoints, we've combined multiple threads into the dialog you're viewing. Please forgive any resultant repetition or failures of chronological order.

Black Patina for Zinc


Q. I make custom stained glass and some pieces include zinc came (zinc metal strips which hold the glass). When attempting to put a black patina on the zinc using a commercial patina I have not been able to achieve a smooth even patina. I have tried cleaning the zinc with alcohol, steel wool [linked by editor to product info at Rockler] and some other cleaners. Various methods of applying the patina using brushes, cloth, sponges and even a paper towel all fail to result in achieving a smooth even patina. Some areas will be a rich dark black patina while other areas are a pale light color, almost as if the patina is not taking (which is probably the case). How do I achieve a good even patina on the zinc? Am I not doing something right (obviously)? Is there a treatment of the zinc, prior to applying the patina, that needs to be done? I really would appreciate any comments or suggestions in how to achieve a good patina.

Thank you,

Frank Wenzel
Make custom Stained Glass - The Villages, FL, USA


A. Recipe II, above, is something for you. Only for grease and oxide free surfaces. And you must lacquer it (or wax).

Good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

(2006) -- appended to this thread by editor

Q. I am building new windows that will be installed next to existing windows and I want to speed up the natural oxidation process that ages zinc that has been exposed to the weather. All of the commercial sulfate patina and bluing solutions turn the metal black and leaved the surface shiny. I'm looking for a matte / dull pewter finish, kind of a flat gray. Any ideas other than letting it age on it's own?

Theodore Ellison
Leaded Glass Design - Oakland, California

How do you get a more SHINY black patina effect on Zinc?


Q. Hello, I am a producer of decorative window panels and have been trying to nail down a patina effect on zinc. My company is a supplier for a large company that demands high volumes of patina finished panels. Originally, our patina process and ultimate outcome was fine, however, another supplier changed their process making the patina a darker, shiner black. I have been trying to get a deep and shiny black but run into 2 problems.

1) Can't get the black dark enough. It often comes out a little more gray than desired.
I've tried all sorts of patinas and processes (e.g., copper sulfate [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] edging before patina application).

2) Can't get the patina consistent enough throughout the entire panel.

I've noticed that on the outside zinc came (thicker material - still zinc), there is a rather spotty or blotchy effect. The inside came (thinner material - also zinc) has areas that look great, but I can't get it consistent throughout the entire panel. I'm thinking this may be a chemical problem (you should also know that we use solder and flux to fuse the panel together). I've also been applying a liquid shoe polish after the patina process but the result is still blotchy and not black enough.

Can anyone offer any suggestions? I would really appreciate some help! Thanks!


Michael Yih
- Xiamen, Fujian, China


A. The primary cause of patina problems comes from not cleaning the zinc thoroughly before applying the patina. The zinc can be washed with a weak soap and water solution and allowed to dry or, as I prefer, wiped clean with 90% alcohol and then buffed dry with a cloth. The zinc MUST be completely dry before applying the patina.

Always use fresh patina. Take a little from the bulk container and put it in a small bottle then apply the patina from that. Throw away any left over as it seems to get weak after exposure to air.

Use a soft dry cloth (cotton works well) and apply a patina to the cloth then run it on to the zinc. Don't be afraid to really rub it in as that is what will give you the dark uniform color. After the patina "takes" buff it with a clean dry cloth.

Good luck!

Jim Hanney
- Woodland, California

November 17, 2011 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hello, I am needing to develop a patina on Zinc. It seems all the recipes I am seeing are for copper, brass, etc. Does anyone know of some patina recipes for Zinc? Thanks Jen

Jen Brennan
- Melbourne, Australia

Bronze Patina for Zinc

December 23, 2017 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have a belt buckle that is made of zinc alloy (what I was told) and am interested in changing the color to something different and fun. Would be cool if it could change to a bright bronze color or maybe even blue. Any suggestions on how to do so?

Jonathan Harrach
- erie, Colorado, usa

Ed. note: You might also be interested in closely related thread no. 31486.

December 27, 2017

Try my download free booklet on metal coloring and cyanide-free plating; there you can find small chapter on zinc coloring (/169/16912ext.pdf). Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb,Croatia

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