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How to Make an Iron Pipe Turn Black

It is common for pipes and hardware used by plumbers and other handymen to be black iron rather than steel because black iron is significantly more rust proof. While creating high quality black iron from regular iron takes an intensive heating and application process that can't be done at home, a lesser quality but quite effective technique has been developed. The process involves a chemical compound called black oxide and can be effectively used to treat metals besides iron, such as steel or copper.

Pipes can be turned black with an iron oxide treatment.

Thoroughly clean the metal. Scrub the surfaces with a wire brush to remove any paint or rust. If any oils or grease are on the metal, apply a chemical degreaser to the surface and scrub it dry with a dry cloth. Sand the surface of the metal with steel wool to get any fine remnants that need to be removed.

Wipe the metal clean with a barely damp cloth. Too much water on the cloth will cause problems with the iron oxide application. The cloth should have enough water to pick up debris and dirt from the cleaning process, but dry enough that the water it does leave on the metal's surface evaporates immediately.

Prepare the iron oxide. Stir it with a wooden paint stirring stick until it is thoroughly mixed. Pour the black oxide into a paint tray.

Apply the black oxide to the pipe with a small paint roller or paintbrush. Make sure to lay an even coat on the pipe so it doesn't drip or run and the final product will have a consistent finish.

Let the black oxide dry on the pipe for 16 to 24 hours. Once dry, the pipe will have a black, slightly glossy finish. Inspect the pipe and reapply black oxide to any sections that were missed the first time. Allow the new coat to dry.

Things You Will Need

  • Wire brush
  • Chemical degreaser, optional
  • Steel wool
  • Rags
  • Iron oxide
  • Paint tray
  • Paint roller or brush

Tip

  • To further protect the pipe, a coat of rustproof paint can be added on top of the black oxide. Consult the manufacturers guidelines to see if a primer coat needs to be applied between the black oxide and the paint. Some black oxide treatments designed for home use have additional chemicals that will act as a metal primer.

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