This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
Mix together bismuth chloride, 1 part; mercury bichloride, 2 parts; copper chloride, 1 part; hydrochloric acid, 6 parts; alcohol, 5 parts; and water, 5 parts. To use this mixture successfully the articles to be oxidized must be cleaned perfectly and freed from all grease, which is best accomplished by boiling them in a soda solution or by washing in spirit of wine. Care should be taken not to touch the article with the fingers again after this cleaning. However clean the hand may be, it always has grease on it and leaves spots after touching, especially on steel. Next the object is dipped into the liquid, or if this is not possible the solution is applied thin but evenly with a brush, pencil, or rabbit's foot. When the liquid has dried, the article is placed for a half hour in simple boiling water. If a very dark shade is desired the process is repeated until the required color is attained.
Apply, by means of a sponge, a solution of crystallized iron chloride, 2 parts; solid butter of antimony, 2 parts; and gallic acid, 1 part in 5 parts of water. Dry the article in the air and repeat the treatment until the desired shade is reached. Finally rinse with water, dry, and rub with linseed-oil varnish.
A dipping bath for tinning iron is prepared by dissolving 300 parts, by weight, ammonia alum (sulphate of alumina and sulphate of ammonia) and 10 parts of melted stannous chloride (tin salt) in 20,000 parts of warm water. As soon as the solution boils, the iron articles, previously pickled and rinsed in fresh water, are plunged into the fluid; they are immediately covered with a layer of tin of a beautiful dull-white color, which can be made bright by treatment in a tub or sack. Small quantities of tin salt are added from time to time as may be required to replace the tin deposited on the iron. This bath is also well adapted for tinning zinc, but here also, as with iron, the deposit is not sufficient to prevent oxidation of the metal below. Larger articles tinned in this way are polished by scratch brushing. In tinning zinc by this process, the ammonia alum may be replaced by any other kind of alum, or aluminum sulphate may be used alone; experience has shown, however, that this cannot be done with iron, cast iron, or steel. If it is desired to tin other metals besides iron and zinc in the solution which we have described, the battery must be resorted to; if the latter is used, the above solution should be applied in preference to any other.