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Vinegar Bluing?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by vcincent, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. vcincent


    Jan 24, 2009
    I've heard of people using vinegar to "blue" their knives. From what I know, it helps resist rust. Can anyone point me to a thread that I can learn from, or explain exactly how to do this?

    I ask because I'm interested in bluing a carbon steel Mora. I'm wondering whether it would be beneficial in helping prevent rust on an already oiled blade, and I'd like to know if bluing has any drawbacks whatsoever.

    Huge thanks :thumbup:
  2. SShepherd


    Nov 23, 2003
    actually wat it does to non stainless, if form a patina, or layer of oxide on the surface. It won't be blue, but a gray color.
    Make sure you degrease the blade for you do it and don't touch the blade or you'll have a fingerprint in your patina.
  3. db


    Oct 3, 1998
    Lemon juice also works. Clean the knife and submerge it in the vinegar. Some say if you warm the vinegar it works faster however it works pretty darn fast at room temp. Keep an eye on it I'm guessing about a half an hour depending on how dark you want it. When it is the color or darkness you want wash it and get all the vinegar off of it you can even use baking soda to clean and then oil the blade well. Repete all steps if you want to darken more and light sanding if you want to remove the patina. Some say doing a lighter shorter time in the vinegar but doing it more times is a better way like painting many coats are better than 1 coat.
  4. BJE


    Apr 12, 2006
    You can go to an auto parts store and get a small container of battery acid, it should only be a few dollars, in my experience it leaves the best "forced" patina and works fastest. Cutting up a lemon or orange will color it as well as meat. Meat leaves a beautiful bluish patina.

    I usually let my knives take a natural patina on their own, but putting one on a knife can help prevent rust and makes it look better IMO, but it can awhile naturally if you don't cut alot of fruit or meat.
  5. Macchina

    Macchina Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2006
    If you boil some water and mix it 50/50 with white vinegar, it works really well. Gives a very dark (black) patina.


    May 30, 2007
    an old carbon steel tramontina bowie, kinda funky and couldnt get it dark enough for me, removed it and used some birchwood Casey and got what i was looking for... The pict below is with the vinegar patina and it lightened up from what you see here.
    I suppose it depends on what you're looking for:)

    bloodwood tram bowie and Dunlap Cattleman i fixed up last year:) i'm trying
  7. CaptInsano


    Apr 11, 2007
    Can you make cool patterns on it by, say tracing a finger along the surface and then putting it in the vinegar? Would that retard the patina enough to make a pattern show up?
  8. rdg


    Oct 30, 2002
    I use mustard to make patterns on the blade. It sticks where you put it, vinegar runs like water.
  9. fishface5


    Feb 3, 2001
    one problem with a lot of these patina methods will be uneven. I've had the best luck getting an even patina on a blade by lightly rubbing a de-greased blade back and forth with a paper towel soaked in lemon juice -- it seems to reach a little deeper than vinegar but I could be wrong. This will produce an even patina rather than the splotchy and uneven-wearing patina that I have obtained from sticking a knife in an apple, or coating it with mustard or smoked salmon oil, or any of the "coat-and-let-sit" methods.
  10. SShepherd


    Nov 23, 2003
    degreasing, then soaking in 50/50 heated white vinegar/water will produce an even patina.

    thats a light etch, thats been rubbed with flitz, just to remove the oxidation the would rub off. The steel is 52100
  11. datsylel


    Feb 4, 2009
    I recently started experimenting with forced patinas. I used a carbon steel Mora 711 for my first experiment. I wrapped it in a paper towel soaked in Tabasco and let it sit overnight before rinsing. I didn't get a patina on the whole blade (some parts must have been left uncovered), so I wrapped it in a paper towel soaked in concentrated citric acid and let it sit for an hour.
    After rinsing I was a bit more satisfied with my knife's patina, so I decided to do a sharpness test; it had lost most of its cutting ability and could only slice paper, not push cut it.
    I decided to try and restore it on my Fällkniven DC4 and I achieved a hair whittling edge, but because of the blade's geometry (flat grind in the same angle as the cutting edge through half the width of the blade) I had polished off most of the achieved patina.
    I got impatient and wiped the blade with a paper towel with a bit of nitrating acid (concentrated nitrous acid + concentrated sulfuric acid). This left me with a rather plain patina and an even duller edge.
    I decided that I'd been too rash. I polished off most of the patina on both the edge and the sides, restored the edge and wrapped the blade in a paper towel soaked in a Tabasco/mustard/red wine vinegar mixture and left it for an hour. The patina lacked the character/darkness I sought, so I stuck it in an orange for an hour hoping for a better effect. After this I still wanted some darker spots, so I dabbed the blade with a paper towel with some nitrating acid on it and waited until I was satisfied with the color of my patina. Dabbing created some nice dark spots, instead of just wiping off a layer of metal and leaving a smeared, plain patina.
    Finally, I rinsed my blade with water, scrubbed it with soap and a soft brush, rinsed it again and dried it. Then I put some WD-40 on it.
    In the end, I was more than satisfied and I've learned a lot about forcing patina's.

    TL;DR: I gave a Mora 711 a three layer patina consisting of a vinegar patina (plain), a citrus patina (by sticking it in an orange, irregular pattern) and some darker spots (by dabbing it with a paper towel with some concentrated acid on it).

    Also, Pics will follow later.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009
  12. CaptInsano


    Apr 11, 2007
    No, I mean using the oil on your skin to to put a pattern on the steel that will oxidize slower than the rest when it is submerged in the vinegar.
  13. moonwilson


    Aug 10, 2006
    You could use wax as a resist, there's no reason it wouldn't work. A lithography crayon would probably let you get the best detail and results. Just make sure the blade is totally degreased before you draw on it, and it should work just fine.
  14. mnblade


    Feb 7, 2000
    If that happens, a rub down with a Miracle Cloth will take it right off and then you can start over. You can get 'em dirt cheap on a popular internet auction site. Highly recommended for ez maintenance of carbon steel.
  15. Whitedog


    Dec 30, 2005
    You can also use gun bluing. I used 44/40 on one of my carbon sodbusters.
    44/40 should be available at most gun shops. I just dipped the blade for an instand color change.
  16. db


    Oct 3, 1998
    Anything that etchs or darkens the blade is going to attack the edge as well and dull your blade. I guess you could try coating the edge with a thick wax but heck just sharpen after your done. Let us know what method you try and how it worked for you. I've only used a lemon juice dunk and it worked so well I never tried any other method.

    Ooops I did try sticking a blade in a potato once and was very unhappy with the spotty results.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009
  17. datsylel


    Feb 4, 2009
    The second time I tried tu use strong acid on that Mora, I made a dot of acid drenched paper towel, let it sit for a while until the paper had turned into paste and then rubbed some on the blade, avoiding the edge. Now I have full blade patina and a hair whittling edge!

    Also, pics (sorry for the bad quality, blame the phone cam):



  18. Ben Dover

    Ben Dover

    Aug 2, 2006
    I just use it to slice up oranges and lemons. After a couple of fruit salads, you get a nice patina! :D:p
  19. pinetree


    Jun 24, 2005
    My favorite patina is a vinegar induced one. I am currently working on a 6" Old Hickory Boning knife that I am soaking in a vinegar bath. I find it gives some protection from "rust" on carbon blades. My Case CVs, Bokers carbons, and Opinel paring knives have vinegar patinas. On my carbon mora clipper, I used blueing compound from Walmart. Sharpening the scadi-grind removes the blueing from the edge, giving it a look I really like.
  20. CaptInsano


    Apr 11, 2007
    Used vinegar on a hawk head last night with interesting results. I'll get some pics up later.

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