Some notes on patina safety
We are not providing complete instructions for application of our patinas, and following the recipes given here will be entirely at your own risk, but a few words on safety are necessary here. You should consult safety guidelines in such books as Hughes and Rowe before beginning to mix or use patina chemicals. Be responsible and cautious, and use your common sense.
Always wear eye and face protection to mix chemicals and when dealing with chemical solutions. This is especially important when applying patinas with the torch technique, where boiling-hot patina may spatter: the hot liquid is dangerous in itself, even without the chemicals in it, which in most cases will be acidic.
When mixing chemicals, add small amounts of the chemical to a large amount of water. "Do as you oughter, add acid to water" is the old mnemonic for this. This is so that accidental splashes will be highly dilute.
Though our patina formulas are the least toxic we can find, you should still take precautions to keep them off the skin, and above all to avoid breathing the vapor. We do our torch technique patinas only under a powerful fume hood specially designed for this application. You should always work with adequate ventilation and a well-fitted breathing mask with an appropriate filter (note: a dust filter is not adequate - you must get a chemical filter for your mask).
Objects undergoing burial patina should be kept out of doors - as should the chemical-soaked sawdust when nothing is patinaing in it - and mixing of the mottle patina should be done in a fume hood or outside while wearing a breathing mask with a chemical filter, and always eye and face protection.
Spatters of the chemicals are unavoidable when working with the torch: you should wear work clothing, and expect it to be damaged. The acidic chemicals (most of the formulas are acidic) can irritate exposed skin, and some (especially silver nitrate) will discolor skin, and may cause worse effects, so you should wear gloves and long sleeves. This is especially important if you attempt to use a spraybottle for dispensing the patina, but note that even with a brush, you will need to guard against liquid dripping down the brush onto your hands. Chemicals on skin should be washed away with copious amounts of clean water. Chemicals in eyes should be washed with a dedicated eyewash bottle, and you should seek immediate medical attention. Keep the phone number of your nearest Poison Control Center on hand.
Many of these formulas, or modifications of them, are used with other patination techniques, which are described in many books. We do not use any but the torch technique, occasional cold applications, and the burial technique. If you use any other technique, especially hot immersions and fume or vapor techniques, you need to learn other safety procedures and find out how the chemicals work specifically in those conditions.
You should always study the safety recommendations in books on patination, and know your equipment and your materials. Ask for Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) when buying any chemicals, and make sure you know what you're dealing with. And again, use your common sense.
Designs and images copyright © 1990-2011 David M Bowman & Reed C Bowman