Neutralizing Iron Nitrate w/ Lye Water

Muzzleloading Forum

Help Support Muzzleloading Forum:

sparrish321

32 Cal
Joined
Jul 28, 2022
Messages
15
Reaction score
4
Location
Central KY
I have read posts here on the forum where lye water can be used to neutralize aqua fortis and/or iron nitrate once blushed. This will impart reddish tones to the wood; helping to impart reddish tones to the wood. I am using Kiblers Iron Nitrate (I realize it is not required to neutralize).

My questions: 1) What concentration of lye to water? 2) Once the lye water is dry......Does the lye application need to be neutralized with vinegar? Then... 3) Does the vinegar need to be washed off with water? Thanks in advance for any assistance with the process!!
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2019
Messages
1,043
Reaction score
925
You are over thinking this. Lye is nasty stuff and vinegar will make your gun smell like a pickle.

If you want a different color after the iron nitrate stain use dye stains. Laurel Mountain forge make a variety of them. Chambers is one vendor.
 

TommyG

32 Cal
Joined
Jun 3, 2021
Messages
33
Reaction score
68
Replies above are correct, FN does not need to be neutralized, and you can achieve different tones by using stains/dyes afterwards. That being said, I used the Lye water dye mix on my last two builds after 2 applications of Ferric Nitrate w/ heat blush. It does impart a pleasing reddish tone, depending on what you are after. I try all my finish recipes on scrap first, sometimes up to a dozen swatches until I achieve what I'm looking for. As others mentioned, be careful and wear safety protection as it is nasty stuff. I mix 2 tablespoons into 16 oz tap water. Apply liberally with a brush, after a few minutes I brush the stock down with tap water to get rid of what will be eventual powder residue in the carving once dried. After it is dried(overnite) the stock will look like crap. You need to burnish it with the medium of your choice (steel wool) to bring it to the color you are looking for. Hope this helps. TommyG
 

Attachments

  • P1020326.JPG
    P1020326.JPG
    7.2 MB · Views: 0
  • P1020284.JPG
    P1020284.JPG
    7.2 MB · Views: 0

sparrish321

32 Cal
Joined
Jul 28, 2022
Messages
15
Reaction score
4
Location
Central KY
TommyG: I appreciate the pics, this is in the ballpark of what I want to achieve. So far, the AF/IN/FN is turning out too dark on my test curly maple board purchased from Woodcrafters. (I'm strongly considering refinishing a gun I purchased so testing on an actual blank scrap is impossible). In the past I have refinished banjos using Transtint or Colortone which can be added to the T&T finish to adjust color.
Thanks for all the replies and suggestions!!
 

Col. Batguano

69 Cal.
Joined
Feb 10, 2011
Messages
4,679
Reaction score
911
I used (hardware store drain opening) lye with FN on my last build as a neutralizer. I think it imparted a bit of orange rather than red., but it also made the curl pop more. I really like using it. Leave it on there for a while, but then hose down the stock afterwards. If you let it dry you will have a layer of white powder to deal with when it dries. Generally that can be brushed away, but it DOES seem to lodge in tight small areas that can be a pain to get at, and stubborn to get it all out. If you don't, it will stay white under your finish and look rather unsightly.

A word about using lye in high concentrations; That stuff can be super nasty dangerous. It's as caustic as acid to work around, and the burns from it can be just as severe. Double gloves and eye protection are a must.

Just experiment with it and the other concoctions you are thinking of using on scrap (hopefully from the same blank of wood) first. Personally, I find the trial and error part of looking for "just the right finish" to be one of the most enjoyable parts of gun building. Sort of like Antonio Stradevarious and his secret violin finish.
 

Flintandsteel

40 Cal.
Joined
Jan 12, 2005
Messages
847
Reaction score
813
I seriously don’t know why anyone would want to go through that process.
Dangerous chemicals, both acid and base.
Ferric nitrate is cheap, safe, and exactly the same chemical as aquafortis, WITHOUT all the issues.
Im sure our forefathers used these. Mainly because the didn’t have Amazon, and their life expectancy was like 38 years.
 

sparrish321

32 Cal
Joined
Jul 28, 2022
Messages
15
Reaction score
4
Location
Central KY
I used (hardware store drain opening) lye with FN on my last build as a neutralizer. I think it imparted a bit of orange rather than red., but it also made the curl pop more. I really like using it. Leave it on there for a while, but then hose down the stock afterwards. If you let it dry you will have a layer of white powder to deal with when it dries. Generally that can be brushed away, but it DOES seem to lodge in tight small areas that can be a pain to get at, and stubborn to get it all out. If you don't, it will stay white under your finish and look rather unsightly.

A word about using lye in high concentrations; That stuff can be super nasty dangerous. It's as caustic as acid to work around, and the burns from it can be just as severe. Double gloves and eye protection are a must.

Just experiment with it and the other concoctions you are thinking of using on scrap (hopefully from the same blank of wood) first. Personally, I find the trial and error part of looking for "just the right finish" to be one of the most enjoyable parts of gun building. Sort of like Antonio Stradevarious and his secret violin finish.
Do you only wash off the lye w/ water? I have also read to neutralize lye with vinegar.
 

Col. Batguano

69 Cal.
Joined
Feb 10, 2011
Messages
4,679
Reaction score
911
I've only used water in the past. Vinegar is a mild acid which would then swing your PH balance back the other way (back from basic) , and maybe re-start the AF darkening cycle all over again, albiet more slowly. The base wash (with ammonia, lye, or baking soda) is primarily designed to stop that, not to make the stock PH neutral. My view is that if the stock is slightly basic, or slightly acidic that the issue is rather moot. I'm mostly concerned that I can handle it without getting burned, and that the colors are stable.

I also don't worry about it raising the grain, because I've already whiskered the stock 3-4-5 times before it got the AF / FN treatment. But if there are a few new hairs, I'll hit them again very lightly with 320 grit or 400---VERY lightly.

I approach gun making with the attitude of; the closer I am getting to a finished product, or, in execution of a step that can't be easily undone, the more time I take in getting that step done right. So, in that, I'm my own harshest critic.
 
Last edited:

waksupi

40 Cal.
Joined
Oct 6, 2004
Messages
756
Reaction score
970
Location
Somers, Montana
I found that using different dilutions of ferric nitrate producse different shades and colors. You may want to experiment with that. I went as weak as 1-10 parts denatured alcohol in my experimenting.
 

Col. Batguano

69 Cal.
Joined
Feb 10, 2011
Messages
4,679
Reaction score
911
When I was experimenting with FN I went from 3:1 down to 6:1. I honestly didn't see much difference in the effect. I suspect that both were at or beyond the "saturation point", beyond which it didn't make much difference.

Question; When you went down to a 10:1 ratio did you see a significant difference?

In the end, I wound up following Dave Person's advice (never a bad idea) with FN, and ultimately settled on 4:1. His advice was also to use water as the carrier rather than alcohol, because it takes longer to evaporate, and the FN penetrates better.
 

1BadDart

45 Cal.
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
525
Reaction score
644
Location
W. KY.
I used ferric nitrate on my .40 build and didn't neutralize it, haven't seen any ill effects.
 

Greg_E

36 Cl.
Joined
Oct 28, 2022
Messages
85
Reaction score
42
Location
usa
What I've read is that if you heat the ferric nitrate properly, you'll drive off any remaining acid. Did this on an air rifle with no negative effects, and planning on doing this on the Hawken kit I'm building.
 

Fly Navy

40 Cal
Joined
Nov 12, 2020
Messages
125
Reaction score
139
All I do to neutralize iron nitrate is, after blushing I wipe it down several times with a pretty damp cloth with distilled water. This has always worked for me.
 

Latest posts

Top