In etching, two factors come into consideration, (1) that which covers that part of the metal not exposed to the etching fluid (the resist), and (2) the etching fluid itself.

In the process, a distinction is to be made between etching in relief and etching in intaglio. In relief etching, the design is drawn or painted upon the surface with the liquid etching-ground, so that after etching and removal of the etching-ground, it appears raised. In intaglio etching, the whole surface is covered with the etching-ground, and the design put on with a needle; the ground being thus removed at the points touched by the drawing, the latter, after etching and removal of the etching-ground, is sunken.

Covering Agents or Resists

The plate is enclosed by a border made of grafting wax (yellow beeswax, 8 parts; pine rosin, 10 parts; beef tallow, 2 parts; turpentine, 10 parts); or a mixture of yellow wax, 8 parts; lard, 3 parts; Burgundy pitch, 0.5 part. This mixture is also used to cover the sides of vessels to be etched. Another compound consists of wax, 5 parts; cobbler's wax, 2.5 parts; turpentine, 1  part.

Etching - Ground

I. — Soft : Wax, 2 parts; asphalt, 1 part; mastic, 1 part. II

Wax, 3 parts; asphalt, 4 parts. III.—Mastic, 16 parts; Burgundy pitch, 50 parts; melted wax, 125 parts; and melted asphalt, 200 parts added successively, and, after cooling, turpentine oil, 500 parts. If the ground should be deep black, lampblack is added.

Hard: Burgundy pitch, 125 parts; rosin, 125 parts, melted; and walnut oil, 100 parts, added, the whole to be boiled until it can be drawn out into long threads.

Etching-Ground for Copper Engraving

White wax, 120 parts; mastic, 15 parts; Burgundy pitch, 60 parts; Syrian asphalt, 120 parts, melted together; and 5 parts concentrated solution of rubber in rubber oil added.

Ground for Relief Etching


Syrian asphalt, 500 parts, dissolved in turpentine oil, 1,000 parts. II.—Asphalt, rosin, and wax, 200 parts of each, are melted, and dissolved in turpentine oil, 1,200 parts. The under side of the metal plate is protected by a coating of a spirituous shellac solution, or by a solution of asphalt, 300 parts, in benzol, 600 parts.