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How to Charcoal Blue Steel

James Croxon

Steel can be finished in a number of different ways producing durable finishes ranging from burnt red or orange to dark patinas. These finishes typically correlate to particular industries or products. Charcoal bluing steel, for example, is typically found in the firearms industry. Dating back nearly as far as the invention of firearms, charcoal bluing produces a deep, rich color that is also very durable. While the process is typically outsourced to specialty shops, most people can do it themselves.

Charcoal can be used to add an ornate blue finish to steel.

Step 1

Degrease the steel with denatured alcohol to remove any factory finishes. This is essential since it allows the heat and chemicals to penetrate the steel.

Step 2

Dig a pit approximately 24 inches deep and long enough to contain the steel. There should be 6 inches between the metal and the side of the pit.

Step 3

Fill the pit with charcoal and light it. Allow the charcoal to burn until the coals are uniformly gray.

Step 4

Wrap heavy gauge wire around the steel to create a handle that will stick out of the fire.

Step 5

Rake the coals flat, place the steel in the coals and cover with fresh coals. Allow the coals to settle as they burn. Bake the steel for three hours, replacing coal as needed.

Step 6

Remove the steel from the fire and hang to cool in an outdoor location protected from inclement weather. Let the steel hang for at least three to four days.

Step 7

Coat the finished steel with paste wax to protect the finish.