View Full Version : DIY copper plating..?

07-05-2008, 12:30 PM
Hey all,

I happen to have some (about a quart) copper nitrate that I was given 5 or 6 years back.

I'd like to try to plate some brass parts and mayby some mild steel as well. I checked online and it seems like copper SULFATE is used for simple plating projects like this....although I believe I was told when I got the solution that I'd be able to use it for this.

Any input about this would help me out....or any links to possibly where to get copper sulfate and steps for performing the process would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!


Todd Tolhurst
07-05-2008, 01:57 PM
Copper sulfate is available at your local home center, packaged as "root killer".

07-05-2008, 02:22 PM
Most anything you need with a lot of fuss and fighting along with a pretty deep info data base.
http://www.caswellplating.com/kits/index.html:D :D

07-05-2008, 03:56 PM
You might be able to buy copper sulfate at a well stocked pharmacy. The real kind with real pharmacists. I'm not sure about using copper nitrate. That sounds possibly hazardous. Nitrates have a habit of forming explosive compounds with metals.

I looked it up. I thought so.

7) The aqueous solution is acidity and the hydrate is easy in moisture
absorption. Cupric nitrate is a strong oxidizer which can cause burning and
explosive if heated, rubbed or impacted with carbon powder, sulfur or other combustible materials


It also seems to be a controlled material as a "nitrate explosive substance" regulated by BATF.

David S Newman
07-05-2008, 05:06 PM
You've no chance of plating steel in a copper sulphate solution as its acid, you must first flash it in an alkaline solution ie copper cyanide.

07-06-2008, 08:30 AM
You can copper plate iron in an acid bath. I've done it many times as a child. A nice shiny new nail makes a good test subject. The iron object to be plated must be placed in the bath with the power on to prevent a flash coat from forming.

Here is an excellent reference article on copper plating including bath recipes.


07-07-2008, 01:33 AM
Copper Sulfate is (was) used as a lay out fluid for tool and die making.
You would brush it on steel until the surface is covered with a thin layer of copper. Now you can scribe (lay out) your lines and saw or mill to the line. It has one advantage over Toolmakers Blue Ink- you can cut right to the line. It does not flake. If you work with a magnifier you will be within a few thou or 0.1mm. Wash your hands after using it.