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How to add permanent volume markings to a kettle (illustrated)

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itsgus

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This method uses electrolytic acid etching but requires nothing but cheap household materials! The hardest part is taping off where you want the marks to be. This works by actually removing metal only where the current flows.


10 gallon kettle, completely bare.

Ingredients:

All you need is something acidic enough like vinegar and an electrolyte like salt. A ratio of 1/4 cup vinegar to 1 tsp salt worked for me.

9 volt battery and etching tool


Hook up the POSITIVE lead directly to your kettle.
Attach the NEGATIVE lead directly to a Q-tip, making sure the wires will be touching the vinegar solution.

MAKE SURE YOU HOOK THEM UP IN THE RIGHT ORDER. The other way around would try to ADD metal to the kettle.

Stencils

This was the only part I didn't have lying around. They were cheap at a local craft store. Adhesive and re-usable, perfect for this project.

Etch!

Dip the Q-tip in your salted vinegar solution and touch the kettle. If you hear some sizzling or see some bubbling, you know it is working. It only takes a few seconds of contact to permanently dissolve some metal. I suggest testing it on another piece of the same metal that you don't care much about before etching your kettle.

The Result:

It turned out even better than I expected. No more guessing or relying on a measuring stick.

Again, practice on some other metal first!
 

Pastorken

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Very cool! But you only say"1/4 vinegar". 1/4 what? Cup, tsp?
And will this work on aluminum, or just on stainless?


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SFBuff

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Very cool. What did you use to attach the the battery/etching tool (what kind if wire)?


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itsgus

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Very cool! But you only say"1/4 vinegar". 1/4 what? Cup, tsp?
And will this work on aluminum, or just on stainless?
Approx 1/4 cup vinegar to 1/4 tsp salt worked for me, but honestly I didn't measure, it just worked. Don't worry too much about the ratio. If you know you have a good circuit and it isn't fizzing, try more salt.

In theory it should work aluminum, but it might require a different electrolyte.
 

jaydog2314

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that is AWESOME!! no more crappy paddle marking!

what kind of wire did you use?
 

Epimetheus

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That is wonderful!

MUCH more readable than my scratched-on markings. Off to Michael's craft store for stencils...
 

501irishred

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That looks great! I could see the same technique being used to add logo's and such to other ss pieces as well.....


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snowtires

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That's really cool. Really really cool. I had no idea, I'm doing this, maybe put something cool on the front too :)

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Thedutchtouch

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Just make sure that your pot is level before marking, I know someone that did this, and then found out that all measurements were a 1/4 inch off because his stand was not sitting level, and these markings don't come off.
 

boydster

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Thanks for posting this! I need to etch my kettle, and I will probably do it today so I can test it out this evening with a brew.

Cheers!
 

junior627

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I was just thinking of ways to mark my new kettle. Great job, very professional looking.
 

G-Hog

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How long did you leave the solution on the kettle?


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RADMAD

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Can you post a picture or description of how you attached the wire to the Kettle?
 

Doed

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This is very cool.

My question would be, how long will the etching stay this way? Is it going to corrode or discolor over time?
 

mattd2

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If I etch blichmann on the front would that make me cool or just a poser?
I don't know if you would be cool by doing it, but it will instantly increase the value of you kettle 3 fold :D
This is very cool.

My question would be, how long will the etching stay this way? Is it going to corrode or discolor over time?
Just make sure that your pot is level before marking, I know someone that did this, and then found out that all measurements were a 1/4 inch off because his stand was not sitting level, and these markings don't come off.
Sounds positive for them being permenate - how well do they stand up to scrubbing with a green scubby?
 

stpug

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Very nice and great idea!! I look forward to some more pics from other folks :D
 
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itsgus

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How long did you leave the solution on the kettle?
Just as an FYI, the etching only occurs while the electrical current is flowing.
Once you lift the Q-tip, the reaction stops.

That being said, it depends on your voltage, metal, and electrolyte concentration in your acid.

Mine only took a few seconds.

I highly recommend testing the process in spot you don't care about or an extra piece of metal.


Can you post a picture or description of how you attached the wire to the Kettle?
I just stripped the wire with a knife and taped it to the kettle. extremely ghetto but doesn't matter. loop it back and use another piece of tape like they to with IVs so it is less likely to pull off.

wow, thanks for sharing this method with us.
are the markings permanent, or will they eventually fade?
This is very cool.
My question would be, how long will the etching stay this way? Is it going to corrode or discolor over time?
They will be completely permanent because you literally remove a layer of metal when you do this. The good news is, the new bare surface quickly oxidizes and forms the exact same protective layer that the original surface had. But now, that area has a different texture and reflects light differently so will remain visible.
 

mattd2

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Anyone reckon you will see this clearly enough in a keggle?
 

501irishred

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Tested on the bottom of my kettle today and it works great! Now off to get some stencils!
 

Bigscience

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This seems like a great way to mark the inside of one of those new SS Brew Buckets. They have some marks but only in gallons. That was the last thing holding me back from getting one. Thanks for the info!


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