The print should be heavily inked and powdered with dragon's blood several times. After each powdering heat slightly and additional powder will stick, forming a heavy coating in 2 or 3 operations. Before proceeding to heat up, the plate should receive a light etching in a weak solution of the acid described later on. The purpose of this preliminary etching is to clean up the print, so that the lines will not tend to thicken, as would be the case otherwise. Next a good strong heating should be given. On top the dragon's blood plumbago may be used in addition. For etching use nitric acid mixed with an even amount of acetic acid. Some operators use vinegar, based on the same theory. When commencing the etching, start with a weak solution and increase as soon as the plate is deep enough to allow another powdering. If the operator is familiar with lithography, and understands rolling up the print with a lithoroller, the etching of steel is not harder than etching on zinc.

Liquids for Etching Steel


Iodine....... . .. . 2 parts

Potassium iodide. . 5 parts

Water............ 40 parts


Nitric acid........     60 parts

Water............   120 parts

Alcohol..........   200 parts

Copper nitrate ....       8 parts


Glacial acetic acid . 4 parts

Nitric acid........ 1 part

Alcohol.......... 1 part


Mix 1 ounce sulphate of copper, 0.25 ounce alum, 0.5 teaspoonful of salt (reduced to powder), with 1 gill of vinegar and 20 drops of nitric acid. This fluid can be used either for etching deeply or for frosting, according to the time it is allowed to act. The parts of the work which are not to be etched should be protected with beeswax or some similar substance.


Nitric acid, 60 parts; water, 120 parts; alcohol, 200 parts; and copper nitrate, 8 parts. Keep in a glass-stoppered bottle. To use the fluid, cover the surface to be marked with a thin even coat of wax and mark the lines with a machinist's scriber. Wrap clean cotton waste around the end of the scriber or a stick, and dip in the fluid, applying it to the marked surface. In a few minutes the wax may be scraped off, when fine lines will appear where the scriber marked the wax. The drippings from a lighted wax candle can be used for the coating, and this may be evenly spread with a knife heated in the candle flame.


For Hardened Steel.—Heat an iron or an old pillar-file with a smooth side, and with it spread a thin, even coat of beeswax over the brightened surface to be etched. With a sharp lead pencil (which is preferable to a scriber) write or mark as wanted through the wax so as to be sure to strike the steel surface. Then daub on with a stick etching acid made as follows: Nitric acid, 3 parts; muriatic acid, 1 part. If a lead pencil has been used the acid will begin to bubble immediately. Two or three minutes of the bubbling or foaming will be sufficient for marking; then soak up the acid with a small piece of blotting paper and remove the beeswax with a piece of cotton waste wet with benzine, and if the piece be small enough dip it into a saturated solution of sal soda, or if the piece be large swab over it with a piece of waste. This neutralizes the remaining acid and prevents rusting, which oil will not do.

If it is desired to coat the piece with beeswax without heating it, dissolve pure beeswax in benzine until of the consistency of thick cream and pour on to the steel, and even spread it by rocking or blowing, and lay aside for it to harden; then use the lead pencil, etc., as before. This method will take longer. Keep work from near the fire or an open flame.