Conventionally, people who electroplate use vinegar along with distilled water to prepare the electrolyte solution of copper.
Once the electrolyte solution is ready, you can then plate the piece that you want. However, it is not the only way to do it, and electrolytes can also be prepared with the help of baking soda.
The answer to the question Can You Copper Electroplate with Baking Soda?
To copper plate with the help of baking soda (also known as sodium carbonate), add baking soda in distilled water in a jar.
Take two pieces of copper and dip one side into the baking soda and water solution, and connect the other sides to a power source (1AMP power supply).
After joining one copper piece with the positive wire and the other with the negative wire (bus bar), copper ions will dissolve into the solution.
It will create a blue copper electrolyte solution that you can then use to plate your piece.
WHAT IS THE PROPER PREPARATION BEFORE YOU ELECTROPLATE YOUR PIECE?
Every piece that will be electroplated needs proper preparation before it is ready for being electroplated.
If it is not prepared correctly, the process of plating doesn’t go ahead smoothly; most notably, uniform plating can’t be achieved.
Preparation before electroplating is divided between two steps – the first one being the preparation of electrolyte solution.
It is essential to give time to prepare the solution until the copper piece dissolves properly into the solution.
The second step of preparation is to clean the piece that is being electroplated completely.
It should be rubbed and cleaned well to have no soil, oils from your skin, or any other particles left on it.
THE PROCESS OF COPPER PLATE WITH BAKING SODA?
It is not a highly complex process, and since I am documenting my experience in the hobby of electroplating and electroforming, here is what I have learned.
GATHER THE NECESSARY MATERIALS.
To set up your plating system, you will need distilled water, baking soda, a DC power supply, two alligator clips, two pieces of copper metal, a piece that you are trying to plate, and a container that will fit the metal you want to electroplate to be submerged.
All of these items can be easily found in local hardware or even at your home.
The power supply has two prongs that make the process easier, but you can also use a lower voltage power supply.
Alligator clips are standard insulated electrical wires with metal clips as the ends used for connecting two circuits.
The piece of copper is the source of ions that will make the electroforming solution used for plating.
Nickel and steel are two metals that can easily be plated with copper, but you can also try other metals. You can also electroform organics, plastic resin, etc. with conductive paint.
WEAR PROPER PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
It is imperative, especially in this case, you are plating as a hobby at your home, which increases the risk.
When electroplating various metals, it is essential to remember that you are dealing with acids and other dangerous chemicals that you need to be protected from.
Wear gloves, protective eye goggles, and lab coats or clothes that you don’t mind ruining if something splashes during the process.
SCRUB THE METAL SURFACE CLEAN
To get an even electroplated coat on your piece, you must first properly clean the surface of your piece.
Dirt and oils on the piece’s surface can prevent the donor metal from evenly coating the surface. Start with a degreaser such as a detergent (dish soap), and then make sure to scrub the metal with an abrasive or an acidic cleaner to ensure the surface is neat.
This process has already been explained in the article, but here is the detailed explanation. To make the electrolyte solution, you should mix five parts distilled water with 1 part baking soda.
The power supply will serve to produce the current necessary for the preparation of electrolyte.
Attach one piece of metal to one prong and the second piece to the second prong of the power supply.
At this stage, it doesn’t matter which part of copper is connected to which terminal, just that a separate clip is attached to each piece of copper.
After you power up the copper pieces that are submerged in the solution, you will start noting that the color of the solution will begin becoming blue.
It will be your copper electrolyte solution that you can then use to plate your piece.
CONNECT YOUR PIECE WITH COPPER WIRE AND STAR PLATING
Connect the power supply’s positive wire to the piece of copper submerged into the solution this is the anode, and then connect the negative wire cathode (bus bar) to the piece that you want to electroplate.
After you have powered up the cables with a power supply, you will notice that your piece is being plated with time.
However, it is essential to understand here that if you connect the wires in the opposite way to the one described above, the process of plating will not happen.
So, connect the positive wire to the piece of copper (anode), and connect the negative wire (cathode) via your (bus bar) to the piece that you are plating.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO PERFORM ELECTROPLATING ON SEVERAL PIECES AT THE SAME TIME?
The process of plating one piece is more accessible and less complicated, as you can see in the steps described above.
But how about if you want to plate two or more pieces simultaneously – is it possible? Very much so.
You can electroplate several pieces at the same time; however, it will require additional care.
You would have to divide your negative wire (bus bar) the power supply into multiple parts and connect each part to the pieces that you are going to electroplate.
It will slow down the process, but you will eventually get multiple pieces plated at one time.
WHAT ARE THE USES/PURPOSE OF ELECTROPLATING IN JEWELRY MAKING?
People of various crafts use plating, but jewelers use it more than others.
It is because of what the plating offers to the jewelers and that it is not a very expensive option.
Electroplating increases the appearance and color uniformity in the pieces of jewelry.
For example, you can take a copper piece of jewelry that you electroformed and electroplate silver onto it. This will give the finished piece a new look of silver.
The electroplating process usually improves the tarnish resistance of jewelry, meaning jewelry pieces will stay polished and beautiful for an extended period.
It is used on base metal like silver jewelry items to achieve a gold appearance and copper pieces after electroforming to give it a silver appearance.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF ELECTROPLATING?
There are several advantages of electroplating, most notably the corrosion resistance.
A corrosion-prone substance such as metals can be coated with a layer of non-corrosive material, thereby protecting the original metals from corrosion.
Furthermore, shine and luster can be imparted to otherwise dull surfaces through electroplating, thus decorating them.
Similarly, some of the disadvantages of electroplating are there are issues with the disposal of waste produced during the process, so it is important to check with your local area authorities for disposal instructions.
Furthermore, the process requires multiple coatings of the metal, which is time-consuming and expensive at times.
The process of electroplating with the help of baking soda has been extensively used by people who do plating as a hobby at home.
It is easier and offers a more practical solution for the pieces that you want to electroplate. Now, with the steps explained above, you can electroplate your pieces at home with the help of baking soda.
Now you know that you Can You Copper Electroplate with Baking Soda?