Coloring brass with aqua ammonia


Chief Administrator & Benevolent Dictator
Staff member
Nov 6, 2006
Covington, Louisiana
Thread starter #1
Mark: Back when I worked at New Orleans Arms, Lynton McKenzie told me of a way to brown brass that is the best I've ever seen. Whether it's the color you're looking for I don't know, but I'll describe the process I used on a few projects.

I used aqua ammonia which is some really horrid stuff. It seems to be a jillion times stronger than household ammonia. When I first got a small jug I uncapped it and took a whif, and it about knocked me to ground. God forbid if you spilled or broke a jug inside your workshop or home. It's nasty nasty nasty stuff, and you have to get it from a chemical supply house. If you decide to use it, read up on it and make sure you handle it according to instructions.

I poured some aqua ammonia into a small tupperware/rubbermaid container, placed a riser made of plastic or glass inside, placed my clean brass object on the riser so it wouldn't get wet, snapped the lid closed and let the vapors do their thing. I don't remember how long it was (30 min?), but the result was a gorgeous, smooth, perfect brown color.

I once engraved a necklace made of brass sheet, gold plated it, then masked everything off with clear tape and cut away the tape to expose the background areas of the engraving, then bead blasted the plating off of the background. Then it went into the aqua ammonia vapor chamber for coloring. The end result was a striking gold necklace with bright gold scrolls and bead blasted brown background. Totally killer.


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