Thread: Discussion Litho-Plate Aging, Weathering
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Old Sep 21, 2012, 11:58 PM
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Jim C Patrick
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Shenandoah County
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Drano drain cleaner is a caustic (alkaline) material. It has other ingredients like deodorizers, surfactants, etcetera; but the main ingredient is NaOH, known as lye or caustic soda. A strong lye solution on aluminum will generate intense heat and hydrogen gas; ie a fire or explosion waiting to happen. Lye burns cloth and flesh on contact and is highly poisonous. It reacts violently with many materials, including aluminum. Extreme caution should be used: thick rubber gloves, eye protection, rinse water available, etcetera.

A weak lye solution etches aluminum, producing a grainy finish that ranges from light to dark gray, and sometimes a iridescent rainbow shine. The strength of solution, temperature (!) and time of exposure make huge differences in the finish you get.

On the acid side, ferric chloride may work well. Radio Shack used to carry it for etching circuit boards and it is safer less dangerous than caustics.
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