Etching glass is an easy and fun way to start out working with glass.
Within a few minutes you can decorate your glass item of choice and it is a great way to create personalized presents.
All you need to get started is some glass etching paste and a glass.
glass etching compound, glass etching acid, how to etch glass at home
What is etch cream made off?
There are different companies that sell glass etching solutions.
But in most cases the active compound is either sulfuric acid or hydrofluoric acid. Both of them are strong enough to etch glass.
Applying glass etching cream results in a smooth matte surface, which can be used to make designs and patterns on windows, mirrors, glassware, etc.
Besides using the acid, etching creams include other chemicals as well. For example, the main ingredients used to make the well-known Armour Etch cream are:
- Barium Sulfate
- Sulfuric Acid
- Sodium Bifluoride
- Ammonium Bifluoride
You probably know that working with acids is dangerous and you should always wear adequate protection.
Fortunately, the concentration of these acids in etching creams is normally relatively low. But wearing gloves for safety is still a good idea!
Homemade glass etching solution
Sometimes you can find an etching cream recipe online.
But if you are not a trained chemist or you are unfamiliar with these chemicals, please do not try making etching cream at home.
Especially, hydrofluoric acid poses a big risk to your health and probably shouldn’t be used outside of a chemistry lab.
Recommended Glass Etching Creams
Not every etching cream is the same.
Some of them contain so little acid that they don’t work very well. Or you have to leave the cream on for ages.
When it comes to glass etching solutions, Armour Etch is one of the most well known brands.
It’s not too expensive and it rarely disappoints.
Just paint on the cream using a brush and/or stencil.
After 5 minutes wash off the cream and you will be left with a beautifully decorated glass.
Frequently asked questions
How long do you leave etching cream on?
It depends on how much you want to etch and which etching cream you are using. However, for the Amour Etch solution you want to wait roughly 5 minutes.
Is glass etching permanent?
Yes, by etching the glass you are physically removing the outer layer of the glass. This can’t be undone.
What happens if you leave etching cream on too long?
Leaving the etching cream on for a few extra minutes normally doesn’t damage the glass. However, it might damage the stencil you are using.
Can you reuse etching cream?
In principle the etching cream can be reused if you carefully collect and store it after use. However, since the etching cream isn’t very expensive, it’s easier to just wash the cream off the glass with water.
Can you eat off etched glass?
Yes, but you have to make sure that there is no trace of the etching cream left. So rinse and soak the etched glasses thoroughly.