What is Bluing?

25th Sep 2019

What is Bluing?

Fans of traditional shooting guns will probably have heard of ‘bluing’ and are aware of the functional and aesthetic benefits it brings, but this process can also be advantageous for many other applications.

What is Bluing?

Bluing is a process used to improve the condition and aesthetic qualities of damaged metal surfaces on a wide range of hobbyist equipment. Bluing earns its name from the resultant blue/black finish which forms following the chemical reaction after applying the gel to a steel surface.

This process is segmented into two distinct categories: ‘cold bluing’ and ‘hot bluing’.

Hot Bluing

Hot bluing is a complex process which involves metal parts being placed in a mixture of chemicals (typically potassium nitrate, sodium hydroxide and water) which is then heated to around 150 °C.

This causes a black oxide (a compound formed with oxygen and at least one other element) called magnetite to form on the metal surface which provides resistance against rust and corrosion.

This process is typically more suited to large scale bluing by gun manufacturers and is not always appropriate for individual cases due to the very high temperature and corrosive chemicals involved.

Cold Bluing

Contrastingly, cold bluing is a much more convenient, alternative technique for owners of small to medium sized gun collections as well as other steel items.

As the name implies, no heating is required with cold bluing. Instead, products such as Abbey Supply’s Blu Gel can be purchased to easily apply a quick, effective blue finish to any steel equipment.

In addition, cold bluing is a far safer and environmentally friendly too. Hot bluing can be dangerous for the inexperienced as it requires the handling of extremely hot chemicals and these can be hard to dispose of in a manner which does not affect the environment.  

Whilst this is most commonly utilised by gun owners, bluing can be used to improve the appearance of many steel items including rare collector car models, intricate metal work (for instance, fine components found in expensive clocks and watches) and more.

How to Perform Cold Bluing on your Equipment

If you’re looking to reap many of the benefits attributed to hot bluing but don’t want to deal with chemical baths and a high price tag, cold bluing is the perfect, simple alternative.

All you need to do is complete the following steps:

  1. Prepare the steel surface by removing any oils, grease or other dirt which may have built up over time.
  2. Next, use fine 0000 grade wire wool to gently rub down scratches on your equipment.
  3. Apply a conservative amount of  Blu Gel to any scratches and dents, being sure to spread an even coating in one movement from the middle to the outside of the damaged area.
  4. Use clean water to completely remove the gel and dry immediately.
  5. Repeat this process to achieve a higher level of bluing if required.

Water, wire wool and a small amount of Abbey Supply Blu gel (pictured below) are all you need to apply a high quality blue finish to your equipment, making for a far more convenient and cost-effective solution for the majority of users.

Using a bluing technique can help to not only extend the life of any steel items, but will also make for a far more attractive appearance which can be especially beneficial for small businesses looking to entice customers to buy their metal products.

Blu Gel by Abbey Supply

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