How to Oxidize Metal with a Hard-Boiled Egg

Here’s an easy, affordable, and non-toxic way to give metal a great patina. I used to mix up batches of Liver of Sulfur to oxidize, but that’s a really stinky process that takes longer and leaves you with a somewhat toxic mixture to dispose of. Plus, eggs are always handy and cheap!

1) First, I coiled up 24-gauge sterling silver wire, gathered it with a twisty tie, and taped the ends of the tie to the lid of a plastic container. This allows me to suspend the wire over the egg. You can put your metal right in the egg, if you wish, but sometimes that can result in spots and you have more clean up.

2) Smash a hard-boiled egg in the bottom of the container—no need to remove the shell.

3) Here you can see the steam from the egg that was still warm—using a warm egg helps the process.

4) After just 30 minutes you can see the color start to develop nicely.

5) Oops! Guess we’ll shake the container after all and cover the wire with egg!

6) Time to wash up with everyday dish soap. Since the wire was a nice color after just 30 minutes I could have removed it then, but I wanted it a bit darker and waited over an hour before clean up. You can always use a polishing cloth to lighten the wire.

7) The beautiful finish with hints of purple and red.

This process is great for sterling silver and also works on copper (but not copper-coated craft wire or gold). For brass you’ll need to use patina. When oxidizing crimp tubes, crimp covers, beads, and ear wires, I like to string them on sewing thread and then tape the thread ends to the lip of a glass jar—suspended above the egg. You can also use this thread trick when dipping items in Liver of Sulfur.


Sorry I can’t show you how I’m using this to finish up a beaded rope, but I’ll be able to reveal more later.  More info on Liver of Sulfur and other oxidizing materials (as well as painting and caring for metals) can be found in Mixed Metals, the book I coauthored with Danielle Fox.

Have fun!


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