This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
(See also Enamels, Glazes, Paints, Varnishes, Waterproofing.)
In spite of the numerous endeavors to protect metal objects from oxidation, a thoroughly satisfactory process has not yet been found, and we still have to resort to coatings and embrocations.
By covering the metals with a pale, colorless linseed-oil varnish, a fat or spirit lacquer, an unfailing protection against oxidation is obtained. This method, though frequently employed, however, is too laborious and expensive to admit of general use, and instead we frequently see employed ordinary or specially composed greases, especially for scythes, straw-knives, and many other bright iron goods. These greases are not suited to retard oxidation, for they are without exception acid-reacting bodies, which absorb oxygen in the air and under the action of light, thus rather assisting oxidation than retarding it. A covering of wax dissolved in oil of turpentine would be more recommendable, because wax is an impervious body, and a firm and rather hard layer remains after evaporation of the oil of turpentine, which excludes the air. If the treatment with the wax salve is carefully attended to no other objection can be urged against this preserving agent than that it is likewise comparatively expensive if used in large quantities. As regards the greases, and treatment with petroleum or vaseline, the easy attrition of these substances is another drawback, which makes a lasting protection impossible.
According to Shedlok, cast-iron articles are treated with acids, then exposed to the action of steam, hot or cold water, and dried. The receptacle is exhausted of air and a solution of pitch, rosin, rubber, or caoutchouc, applied under pressure. Objects prepared in this manner are said to be impervious even to weak acids.
The inoxidizing process of Ward is founded on the simultaneous employment of silicates and heat. The cast iron or wrought iron are coated with a siliceous mass by means of a brush or by immersion. This covering dries quickly, becomes liquid when the articles are exposed to a suitable heat, and soaks into the pores of the metal, forming a dense and uniform coat of dull black color after cooling, which is not changed by long-continued influence of the atmosphere, and which neither scales nor peels from the object. By the admixture of glass coloring matters to the siliceous mass, decorated surfaces may be produced.
Another inoxidation process for cast iron is the following: The cast-iron objects, such as whole gas chandeliers, water pipes, ornaments, balcony railings, cooking vessels, etc., are laid upon an iron sliding carriage 3.5 meters long and are exposed in a flame furnace of special construction first 15 minutes to the influence of gas generators with oxidizing action, then 20 minutes to such with reducing action. After being drawn out and cooled off the inoxidized pieces take on a uniform slate-blue shade of color, but can be enameled and ornamented in any manner desired. In applying the enamel the corroding with acid is obviated, for which reason the enamel stands exceedingly well.
A bronze-colored oxide coating which withstands outward influences fairly well, is produced as follows: The brightly polished and degreased objects are exposed from 2 to 5 minutes to the vapors of a heated mixture of concentrated hydrochloric acid and nitric acid (1:1) until the bronze color becomes visible on the articles. After these have been rubbed well with vaseline, heat once more until the vaseline commences to decompose. After cooling, the object is smeared well with vaseline. If vapors of a mixture of concentrated hydrochloric acid and nitric acid are allowed to act on the iron object, light reddish-brown shades are obtained, but if acetic acid is added to the above named two acids, oxide coatings of a bronze-yellow color can be obtained by the means of the vapors. By the use of different mixtures of acids any number of different colorings can be produced.