This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
Colored Rings by Electrolysis (Nobili, Becquerel).—In order to obtain the Nobili rings it is necessary to concentrate the current coming from one of the poles of the battery through a platinum wire, whose point alone is immersed in the liquid to be decomposed, while the other pole is connected with a plate of metal in the same liquid. This plate is placed perpendicularly to the direction of the wire, and at about 0.04 inches from the point.
Solutions of sulphate of copper, sulphate of zinc, sulphate of manganese, acetate of lead, acetate of copper, acetate of potassium, tartrate of antimony and potash, phosphoric acid, oxalic acid, carbonate of soda, chloride of manganese, and manganous acetate, may be employed.
A process, due to M. O. Mathey, allows of coloring metals by precipitating on their surface a transparent metallic peroxide. The phenomenon of electrochemical coloration on metals is the same as that which takes place when an object of polished steel is exposed to heat. It first assumes a yellow color, from a very thin coating of ferric oxide formed on its surface. By continuing the heating, this coating of oxide increases in thickness, and appears red, then violet, then blue. Here, the coloration is due to the increase in the thickness of a thin coating of a metallic oxide precipitated by an alkaline solution.
Potash, 400 parts; litharge or massicot, 125 parts. Boil 10 minutes, filter, dilute until the solution marks 25° Be.
Dissolve ferrous sulphate in boiling water, and preserve sheltered from air. When desired for use, pour a quantity into a vessel and add ammonia until the precipitate is redissolved. This solution, oxidizing rapidly in the air, cannot be used for more than an hour.
Electro-chemical coloration succeeds very well on metals which are not oxidizable, such as gold and platinum, but not well on silver. This process is employed for coloring watch hands and screws. The object is placed at the positive pole, under a thickness of 1.25 inches of the liquid, and the negative electrode is brought to the surface of the bath. In a few seconds all the colors possible are obtained. Generally, a ruby-red tint is sought for.
Coloration of Nickel. —The nickel piece is placed at the positive pole in a solution of lead acetate. A netting
of copper wires is arranged at the negative pole according to the contours of the design, and at a short distance from the object. The coloration obtained is uniform if the distance of the copper wires from the object is equal at all points.