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For a little project, I would like to oxidize or galvanize stainless steel. So far I figured out, that it is not really possible to oxidize stainless steel yourself at home. There for I had the idea of maybe galvanize it as this should be possible to DIY. If I could galvanize the stainless steel pieces with copper, I could let the copper oxidize afterwards.

Material question: Can I galvanize copper on stainless steel?

Common sense question: Is the expenditure reasonable to try this at home?

  • Depending on size desired and many other factors , copper clad stainless cookware could be cut -up for the project. – blacksmith37 Nov 20 '19 at 22:39
  • fyi - galvanizing is specifically adding a layer of zinc to metal to provide protection from oxidation. It is applied using thermal processes like dipping in molten zinc. I think what you are after is called anodizing or electroplating. – rebusB Nov 23 '19 at 18:05
  • Zinc is applied to steel by both hot dipping and electroplating ; Depends on the product form. – blacksmith37 Dec 4 '19 at 15:27
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It's apparently easy enough to plate a layer of copper on stainless steel. The problem is getting a layer thick enough to be visible, and getting it to adhere well. @fred_dot_u's answer beat me to the discussion in the linked article. For results suitable for typical industrial use, it generally requires chemicals you might not want to mess with at home. Even manufacturers farm it out to companies that specialize in it.

That said, what you can reasonably do at home might be adequate for what you need. Here's an Instructable that describes the typical way to electroplate metals with copper at home. Stainless steel will be more of a challenge, and the plating may not be durable, but it would be a relatively easy thing to test.

There's also been some work with a gel that you apply to stainless steel and then abrade the surface under the gel to expose metal that is instantly plated. It immediately forms a layer of copper that's just thick enough to color the surface, and then the process stops. This video shows the process.

It links to this video that describes the gel and shows it being used in an additional way. They use some copper wire connected to the stainless steel and embedded in the gel. The gel acts like an electrolyte, and the wire and stainless steel create a battery that deposits a thicker layer of copper. Unfortunately, I didn't notice a specific description of how to make the gel, but you may be able to find it by exploring their links. Just knowing that the stuff exists means it's possible to do it (although they do it in a lab, not at home).

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If you are searching the world wide interweb, use the terms "electroplating copper on stainless steel" and you will find that it's possible to create a copper layer on stainless.

One source, from finishing.com suggests that it's challenging, because one has to have an active surface and stainless steel passivates immediately, but the article offers information to deal with this aspect.

My search returned many varying sources of information, regarding requirements for equipment, metals, chemicals, temperatures, etc. I suggest firing off a search with the above terms to find a resource suited to your specific tasks.

Home electroplating is a somewhat-common activity. Base equipment is a source of electricity, a solution of the desired metal (copper sulfate?), wires and safety gear. Some processes require temperature management of the solution.

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