Introducing / READY ETCH
The Improved Copper Sulfate Metal Etching Solution - Add Water

We continue to offer pure Copper Sulfate Crystals at wholesale prices for use in metal etching.

Now accepting orders for READY ETCH  - The improved Copper Sulfate Metal Etching product with an added catalyst  to enhance  performance, sharpen etching detail and extend the working life of the solution. READY ETCH is now in stock and available for purchase on our Product Ordering Page.

Research and experimentation has led to a better solution for those who use straight copper sulfate for a metal etching solution. The traditional (non-copper sulfate) etching process uses harmful acids which release toxic vapors and require special handleing and practices. The use of a copper sulfate solution for etching has always been safer than the alternative and copper sulfate use for metal etching is steadily growing.. however, READY ETCH provides what many feel are practical improvements over using plain copper sulfate in a metal etching solution. A saturated solution of plain copper sulfate crystals is an excellent mordant for zinc, aluminum, copper, brass and mild steel, but due to lack of a catalyst, etching is somewhat slow and the solution becomes exhausted quickly. The use of READY ETCH instead of plain copper sulfate enhances the electrolytic eroding potential of copper sulfate to be harnessed more fully. We offer this outstanding alternative solution, READY ETCH, pre-mixed and measured - Just add water!

The READY ETCH solution activates the etch by diminishing the bond with water. Our READY ETCH for etching zinc, aluminum, copper, brass and mild steel is about three times more active than a straight copper sulfate solution; it also produces a very crisp etch. During biting a coppery sediment of metal hydroxides and oxides floats to the surface, thus keeping the bitten work from clogging up. Etching can also be aided by occasionally brushing the plate surface with a soft brush; delicate marks, such as a spray aquatint or soft ground should, however, be etched without brushing. READY ETCH works more effectively if floating solids are regularly skimmed off with a brush or strainer and removed from the bath. This keeps the solution from turning alkaline and extends its usable life. 


Products and equipment needed to improve your etching experience:

  • supply of hot water
  • heavy-duty gloves
  • safety goggles
  • dust mask
  • wooden stick or stiff plastic brush for mixing
  • bucket
  • etching tray


Mix Ready Etch as follows. (This example is for 4 pounds of Ready Etch.)

As always put on gloves, dust mask, and safety goggles when handling even the safest of chemicals.

  1. Place READY ETCH powder into a bucket or straight into the chosen etching tray.
  2. Add 1 gallon of hot water and stir with a wooden stick or a stiff brush. The solution turns into a green sludge.
  3. Then add 1 gallon of warm water stirring continuously. Most of the crystals should dissolve within 5 to 10 minutes of mixing, producing a dark green liquid.

4 lbs. of READY ETCH is added to 1 gallon hot water, stir and then add to 1 gallon warm water. (Add 1/2 gallon (64 fl. oz.) of water for every pound of Ready Etch!)

In a busy print studio it is advisable to make up a substantial quantity of READY ETCH in a large tray or tank. This may contain even several gallons of solution. The increase in electric charge makes a large volume of the solution longer-lived than a small one. The kind of high-sided plastic trays with lids sold for under bed storage make ideal etching trays. Acid unit manufacturers and other plastics prefabrication companies can manufacture professional trays from welded polypropylene to specification. A deep tray is best fitted with a slatted plastic or wooden grid to elevate plates above the crystalline deposit that builds up in the bath, and to help when removing plates from the bath.

The READY ETCH can be used as a universal etching solution for all five metals: zinc, copper, brass, mild steel, and aluminum.