Blackened steel has more benefits than just being a beautiful piece of metal. It’s also heat resistant and reduces refracted light. Heat-resistant steel is great for yard work because it doesn’t get as hot when left out in the sun. You can avoid any unnecessary burns if you forget them in the yard. The reduction of refracted light makes it easier to look at blackened steel in well-lit areas. Less of a glare means less to shield your eyes from. You don’t need your own steel forge to create blackened steel. There are ways to get these benefits with a household item. This article will help you blacken steel with beeswax.
What is Beeswax?
It’s almost self-explanatory. Beeswax is one of the byproducts of an active beehive. Beeswax is one of the most flexible items created in nature. It’s a waxy substance that bees create to assist in structuring their honeycombs. To bees, it’s similar to concrete, but for humans, it has many different uses. Beeswax can be used for arts and crafts, candles, hair care products, health, and soap. Beeswax also has mechanical uses such as loosening tight lugnuts and sealant.
How do I Blacken Steel With Beeswax?
The first step is making sure that you clean the steel properly. Dirty steel will cause imperfections in the later steps. Isopropyl alcohol and methyl ethyl ketone are common go-tos for cleaning steel. There are other items that you can use but be sure to make sure they evaporate and do not give off a lot of fumes. Especially if you’re operating in an area with low air circulation.
The next step is heating the steel. Any form of achieving high temperatures will work for this. It’s all about personal preference. An oven is probably the easiest to achieve full coverage heating. Old toaster ovens and torches work if you have one laying around. Aim for 400 degrees or when the steel starts to turn light brownish-yellowish. Be sure to have a fire retardant apron and gloves and heavy-duty tongs to properly handle the hot metal.
While the metal is hot, you apply the beeswax. 100% beeswax is normal but you can add items such as linseed oil to thin out the wax. You must use a 100% cotton cloth to apply the beeswax. Any other fabric will melt and mess up your finished product. Also be sure to have on gloves, not only for health benefits but also cause your fingerprints can be burned into the metal and cause smudging.
The final step is placing the metal back into the oven for the second heat. Place the oven at an even higher temperature of 425 degrees. Because of the beeswax, you’re going to want to have all fans on or your windows open for the smoke. You can accidentally smoke yourself out. Be mindful of your smoke detectors as well.
What Other Ways to Finish Steel and Iron?
You can achieve the same blackening by a process called “hot blackening”. This process involves dipping your hot metal into various tanks. You must follow this in order and start with dipping the metal in alkaline cleaner, then water, next you put it in hot (140.5 C/ 284.9 F) caustic soda (or any blackening compound), and then finally dip it into a sealant which is most likely oil.
If you do not have the ability to comfortably house all the materials needed for hot blackening. There is a cold blackening process. This can be applied at 18-29 C/ 65-85 F. You have to dip your metal into a combination of copper and selenium. You can purchase this from almost any metal works company. About 10 minutes, depending on the size of the metal, in this solution will have your work completely black.
Also Read: How To Blacken Aluminum
The newest process for blackening is mid-temperature blackening. This has a safer work environment due to the lack of caustic boiling fumes. Mid-temperature blackening is also one of the longer processes taking 30 to 45 minutes. You will have to order the special solution from a metal works company as well.
You can also just paint your metal for the finish. Properly clean the metal to remove grease, oil, dirt, and rust. If necessary, use a rust remover for the perfect finish. Use a solvent like acetone to properly clean the metal. Water may cause rust. Once the metal is clean, first apply a primer. Then finish off with metallic paint.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we blacken steel? We blacken steel because it helps maintain the steel longer. Blackened steel prevents rust and the heat resistance keeps it more resilient in hotter climates. It also looks cooler.
What paint should I use? Use metallic paint to finish. Most other paints for walls and plastic will not properly stick to metal.
Beeswax is a simple way to protect your steel. If you do not have a forge, you can still feel like a blacksmith in your everyday home. For more tips and tricks, be sure to visit our website.