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Name: Jose O. D.
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 7/24/2003

I have a stainless steel part covered with approximately 0.001 inches of copper. I want to remove the copper without damaging the part. Can I place the part in some chemical solution that will eliminate the copper? What chemical would that be? I was told I could sandblast the part too but I'm afraid that would damage it. The stainless steel part was heat treated too.

CAUTION: Fuming, or any other concentrations of NITRIC ACID can be very dangerous if not handled with care and respect. Please know what you are doing before using such chemicals. I am sure you probably know how to handle the stuff, but we like to address all potential. You understand? :)

ALWAYS pour ACIDS into WATER for dilution
NEVER pour WATER into ACIDS for dilution


We can get rid of that copper for you in a flash by using ANY concentration of NITRIC ACID (HNO3). Whether it be SS304 or SS316, nitric acid will do the job for you. There is one exception to this: If the copper is heavily oxidized you may need to either mechanically or chemically rid yourself of that oxide or who knows maybe even the HNO3 will do it for you. But I cannot tell you with 100% certainty that it will. I think you will will be fine with high concentrations HNO3 + a little bit of water.

I hope I have been some help.

Darin Wagner

Assuming that the heat treatment has not caused the stainless steel alloy to change structure (a real possibility) dilute nitric acid should dissolve the copper without damaging the stainless steel. Nitrogen oxides will be evolved so do this in a hood. Check it out on a small spot to ensure the stainless will not be attacked.

Vince Calder

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