How to force a patina on a bare steel barbell?

Apr 10, 2014
Hi there

I have just ordered a Leoko (Finnish - similar to the Swedish Eleiko) brand barbell, as I'm going to start strength training for the first time in my life...aged 30!

I have purchased a powerlifting bar, but asked them to omit the usual black oxide coating and instead leave the bare steel. This is not a stainless steel, so I was wondering which methods would be most appropriate for forcing a patina?

I've done it to my GEC O1 blades in the past by pouring steaming hot distilled vinegar over the steel for about 20-30 minutes. Would this process be safe for the barbell? I'm concerned it might have a detrimental effect on the rotation of the sleeves.

I know I could just let it get a natural patina over time with sweat, oil, etc. but just wanted to know if anyone knows a good way to get a head start.

Plain vinegar, citric acid, or just wipe it with some saline water and stand it in your bathroom during a hot shower and let the humidity do the work. Card any red rust off, after its where you want just give it a good oiling.

I'd say the cheapest solution is a few lemons. Cut in half (knife use!) And rub the bar with the halved lemons.
Vinegar-soaked paper towels work well. They leave a pattern reminiscent of the paper towel's texture, which can be a feature or a bug, depending on your perspective.
If my memory serves me right there was an article over at the Ironmind site which explained how to do it. I believe it said to cover the raw steel in salt. I can't remember how long it would take or how humid it had to be. I saw an example of it and it looked just like my barbell after about four years of use. According to the article that process (sweaty hands) is speeded due to the salt. The article also mentioned that this type of "seasoning" protects the bar from further rusting.

I am not a metallurgist so I don't know if it is true.