Oxidizing with Perma Blue on Copper

Details on using Perma Blue compiled here on April 02, 2008 after much experimenting and many many repeated typings of various bits on forums across the big wide 'net.

I love the effects of gun blue on copper! I use Perma Blue, found in the US where ever gun supplies are sold, so check all the sports stores. The chemical name - Selenium Dioxide.

I dump it in a jar, use it as is, put the lid on and keep it in the cupboard until next use, alongside my jar of lemon juice/salt for cleaning copper. Not too strong a smell, no need for ventilation or gloves, poison if you drink it but otherwise safe for normal grown-ups. Read the label and don't be stupid. yada blah blah disclaimer *grin*

Step by step -
**First drop the jewelry into lemon juice, with a dash of salt, to clean off skin oils etc. About a minute, keep watch, I never time anything. No specific amount of salt, maybe 1/2 tsp to one plastic lemon (found in the produce area next to real lemons, easy to use, not costly, use any real lemon juice you prefer). Salt is not mandatory, but it seems to work faster. The cleaning step can also be done with ketchup, vinegar, salsa anything acidic.
I like the smell of lemons.

**Rinse Well, and pat dry so you don't dilute the gun blue.

**Drop the piece in the gun blue and keep watch. In 1 to 5 minutes the piece will be black. You can pull it out at any point in between for less darkening. You can re-dip if it's not dark enough. You can paint it on spots if you feel you can't dunk it or want spots, but painting works Very Slow, with repeated paintings. Be patient and persistent.
The warmer the metal/liquid, the faster it works. In the cold winter, I first immerse the metal in hot water, pat dry quickly and then the gun blue.

**Rinse Well !!! and rub with a soft cloth, an old t-shirt is perfect. Very Messy if you darken all the way to black, beware for nice clothes.
Rub until all the mess is gone and you get the highlights you want.
Rubber gloves help control the messy hands.

The process of wiping is usually enough to get the highlights showing. The rest I let happen naturally. The dark in the crevices lasts forever.

I tried tumbling a big batch one time, first with dry rice, thinking I'd get some friction, then with stainless shot and Dawn, neither was particularly successful, the rice really not at all. But the soft cloth made pretty quick work of it after all.

**Finish up with a Sunshine Cloth for beautiful shine. Not required, but oh so pretty!

Forever after, the jewelry just needs a quick rub with a soft cloth to be ready to wear.

Never Ever Never walk away from either jar in progress. If the phone rings, pull the jewelry out and drop them in the water until you can come back and finish. I left one piece 4 or 5 minutes and it got Very powdery black and took much longer to clean. Very Messy! I haven't experimented with longer, but it would be messy at least, don't know if the metal would be damaged.

If you use containers with lids for your Perma Blue and lemon juice, you can just put the lids on and store in the cabinet. No need to refrigerate the lemon. Both last for years, even if they look disgusting, (the plastic lemon type will last years, it has preservatives, don't know about fresh lemon juice).

I found the middle size canning jar (wide mouth, pint size?) at Walmart in the kitchen section, not grocery section, works really well, deep enough to cover a bracelet, wide mouth for inserting pieces. The jars hold two bottles of Perma Blue or two plastic lemons very nicely, so the liquid is deep enough to cover the project while it sits.

To date, I've done all kinds of quartz family stones, turquoise, fresh water pearls, malachite chips and glass.
The malachite chips got a little powdery looking and a bit dark, but they were small chips so it was hard to tell. A toothbrush and sunshine cloth restored most of their shine, so use discretion.
One cab I would have sworn was white quartz lost all shine and absorbed a whole lot of the blue color. Totally trashed. I have no clue what the rock really is.
Dyed red coral came out kind of dull and a little darker.
I tried a couple of small fresh water pearls, and they came out fine.
When in doubt, try a sample bead before dunking the whole project.
You can also paint the Perma Blue in certain areas to spare the delicate rock, but it's a PITB and Very Slow to turn dark.

Fresh water pearls and a shell moon


Princess Leia Goes To The Beach
Turquoise, raw rubie and quartz
This is the raw copper version

This is The Princess after Perma Blue


  1. sounds great - will have to look into the gun stuff - in the uk a bit more difficult to find, i should think!
    I don't turn green with my copper,but i do with the silver plated copper wire i use, sometimes...strange, but true!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment! Look for a product with that chemical in it, perhaps it will work similar. Do come back and comment on what you find!

    Perma Blue (the brand I am familiar with) is wonderful. Lately I've been leaving most projects natural, and some are going thru some really ugly stages, where a brisk rub with soft cloth isn't enough (summer in TX, ugh!). The "blue'd" pieces shine up so much easier.

    I would love to experiment with Liver of Sulpher, but there's so many more steps, having to make it up when needed rather than just pulling the jar out from the cupboard ready to use.....

    On the subject of green skin - I'm still having great results taking vitamin D daily. Little or no green At All! You might try it while wearing your silver plate. Report back! *g*

  3. Thanks for sharing! I have tried some other methods but not happy. I will try the gun blue, your results are beautiful!

  4. Thanks! I love Gun Blue! It's so much easier than any other method I've tried so far.

  5. thanks for sharing your techniques i will definitely try this one i hope i can find it here !

  6. You're welcome, Helen! Where is "here"? *grin*
    Fingers crossed that you find it easily!

  7. Hi, thanks so much for the tips. I am in the wire wrap jewerly group as jan garbacz/ I was able to pick up a bottle of perma blue today. Hope to try it tomorrow.

  8. Howdy! Nice to see you here! Temperature is not Important with gun blue, but the warmer the faster. In the winter, mine gets quite Cold in the cupboard, so I warm a bowl of water, let the metal heat up, dab dry, then stick them in the GB jar.
    I'm not sure whether warming the GB would change it, but I should Do that experiment, just for the sake of Knowing.
    I'd love to see photos and hear your thoughts.

  9. Awesome advice! Thanks a lot! I will have to give it a shot. I'll put gun blue on my christmas list.

  10. Sherry, I am trying out my gun blue for the first time today. thanks for the article...it was very helpful. Would you mind if I put your link on my blog? Thanks!

  11. Where's the Like button! I'm so glad you found my ramblings useful. I adore gun blue on copper.
    Yes m'am, you are welcome to link to my page, share the info!

  12. Hi Sherry, does Perma Blue work on sterling silver too? Thanks!

  13. I'd have sworn that info was included in this version, ::::making note to fix it::::
    PB works on copper and brass, not aluminum or silver or gold.

    It's still, after all these years, my all time fav for copper!

    Have fun!

  14. Hi Sherry, Thank you for the great tip. What is the difference between GB and LOS? (Liver of Sulfur) Is the Patina different? Do you know any other Patinas to make copper green?

    1. http://jewelrymakingjournal.com/vinegar-and-salt-patina/

  15. Sherry, have just purchased some PermaBlue and am anxious to try it with some cabs I wrapped. Been using LOS, but am excited for a new technique. Love your writing style, too!

  16. Source located by a FB friend, gel form - http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Phillips-Professional-Gun-Blue-Paste-Gel-/200972006864

  17. I'd don't know where I'd ever have a chance to use this, but I was wondering if you wanted to add this to your copper finish resources. This is a tutorial for getting the verdigris finish on copper using vinegar and salt: http://jewelrymakingjournal.com/vinegar-and-salt-patina/

    1. Thanks, that teal blue green color is sooo beautiful.

  18. Thanks Sherry for your wonderful post and your comment on my blog post on Gun Blue vs Liver of Sulfur - http://www.beadinggem.com/2014/01/gun-blue-vs-liver-of-sulfur-patination.html.

    I shall share your post on my FB page!

  19. Eventually I'll put this into the body of the article, but for now....
    Perma Blue brand new will go black very fast, but as it ages it will be brown if you do a short dip or paint it on (much slower reacting when painted).
    I have a bottle of Outers, have painted it on 2 items, I've only gotten brown. Dunno if I were to dip in the Outers if it would go blacker, but reports from Canadians so far indicate it stays browner. Note to everyone, also included on my blog --->>> Do NOT buy Super Blue by mistake, the bottle looks exactly like Perma Blue. It will cake on thick and flake off, leaving weird color of bare copper.

  20. Sherry,
    Can you use Perma Blue on brass?
    You are the best!!
    Marlene Strait

  21. Thanks for sharing Sherry you are a life saver for reference here and in the Wire Wrap Jewelry Artists group on fb. You must put in a lot of time, thank you. I am Robin Judd in the group.

  22. Thanks so much for this tip Sherry! I have been doing all my antiquing with LOS and tried the Perma Blue and am a total convert! So much easier and the results have been the same for me!

  23. Great info here. Does the perma blue need to be sealed?