The easiest engraving DIY

How to make creative mug using iodine solution at home

Let's check out an­oth­er way to etch a cool chem­i­cal in­scrip­tion into met­al!

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

Only un­der adult su­per­vi­sion.


  • stain­less steel mug;
  • wax;
  • brush;
  • wood­en stick;
  • 5% io­dine tinc­ture;
  • pa­per tow­el;
  • plas­tic wrap;
  • hot wa­ter.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Melt some wax and ap­ply it to a stain­less steel mug us­ing a brush. Use a wood­en stick to care­ful­ly scratch an in­scrip­tion in the wax. Be sure to scratch even­ly, all the way down to the met­al! Cov­er the area with a pa­per tow­el and ap­ply a 5% io­dine tinc­ture. Then cov­er the pa­per tow­el in plas­tic wrap and press light­ly to en­sure that the tinc­ture is in con­tact with the met­al. Let the mug sit for one day, oc­ca­sion­al­ly re­fresh­ing the io­dine tinc­ture. Re­move the pa­per tow­el, im­merse the mug in hot wa­ter, and clean off the wax us­ing fresh pa­per tow­els. Your text is etched into the met­al!

Pro­cess­ de­scrip­tion

Stain­less steel is com­posed large­ly of iron. Be­ing a met­al, iron acts as a re­duc­er, which gives elec­trons away in re­dox re­ac­tions. Mean­while, io­dine acts as an ox­i­diz­er, which tends to ac­cept elec­trons. The paraf­fin pro­tects the iron from re­act­ing with the io­dine ev­ery­where ex­cept the area you ex­posed man­u­al­ly.

Fe + I₂ → FeI₂

The ob­tained iron(II) io­dide is a wa­ter-sol­u­ble com­pound – just rinse the mug with wa­ter to re­move it. As iron is ex­pend­ed dur­ing this re­ac­tion, deep grooves are left in ar­eas where the re­ac­tion took place. Such an en­grav­ing should not be ap­plied to sur­faces that may come into con­tact with food. The en­grav­ing site may cor­rode over time.

Want more en­grav­ing projects? You can find sim­i­lar ex­per­i­ments in the “Etch­ing and Plat­ing” set from the MEL Chem­istry sub­scrip­tion!