Tarnishing nickel


So i’ve been looking for way to tarnish nickel. I want to make one half of my MN like the black obsidian color. Now i know the best way to do this is to get nickel/brass ager. Now im not one to expose myself to harmful chemicals, so i’ve been looking for ways to do it safely. I found that people were caking there yoyos with mustard… it works but you get undesirable results. I found that vinegar fumes tarnish nickel quite nicely, and the easiest way to do this is boil off the viniger and hang your yoyo above it. Im going to try this soon. If its good ill post pics and if its crapy ill still post pics and then polish it so its like new.


When I was in art school we used to antique different metals using various acidic compounds. Nickel, if I remember correctly, tarnished with pretty much any acid including vinegar so you’re on the right track. Instead of boiling we used to just put vinegar (or sulfuric acid) in a chemical safe container and hang the piece we were working on on the lid of the container and close it. I used to leave the piece in there for about a week or so and when we got back they would be completely black.


I had an extra MN that was so beat it could hardly be played and experimented with it. I put it through anything I could think of (I have a background as a classically trained metal smith with a focus on copper and have in the past built my own brush electro-plating system and had a lab full of experimental patinas). I did everything imaginable. I coated it in mustard, baked it in salt, coated it with powders and soaked them in various acids, even flashed it in the microwave buried in a mixture of various materials. What I wound up with was a flaky cool looking disc that was definitely no longer a Yoyo. I think the mustard was the culprit.

However, I did tarnish my WMM for some reason with a commercially available gun bluing solution. Left it feeling a bit grainy, I think the acids ate into the texture a bit, doesn’t play nearly as well.

My final conclusion?
Well, one is don’t cook yoyos in a microwave.
The other is what I figured would be the safest way to tarnish a nickel plated Yoyo ate into the blast enough to be noticed.

Others may and probably will have other techniques and opinions.
This is my theory which is mine as stated by me.
The brontosaurus is thin at one end, much, much thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the other end.

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I accidentally spilled water in one part of my MMN hub and now there’s black splotches. If that helps, lol.


In the microwave? No Way! LOL…that is one brave thing to do! What was the result? I’m so curious!


I’d try the gun bluing route. I’ve done that with knife blades in the past.


Yes. I decided that being it was so beat, and I replaced it with a new one, I’d see just how much abuse it could take and how that would effect the finish. I’ll post a pic later.

The end result was after microwaving it packed in salt was the finish became grainy and gray. It looks cool, but it’s less playable. I may buff it down actually, that would probably look cool as well.

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Here it is

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Better pic with gun blued WMM http://img.tapatalk.com/62f674f7-6845-5082.jpg

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They don’t look nearly as bad as I thought…


They’re not too bad to look at. The mn doesn’t play well.
The WMM definitely lost some of its texture to the gun blueing solution and lost grindability.

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Wow, they look sort of weathered. Not as bad as I had expected but its actually interesting. Almost makes me want to experiment!


I wouldn’t do it with something you want to keep throwing though. There’s definitely some loss of playability in the ones I experimented with.

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I hear you on that. I have a few that are scuffed up that I wouldn’t miss since I already replaced them.


ok so heres my conclusion with the vinegar… I did the boiling and hung it over it. After all the vinegar was gone from the pan the MN was still exactly the same. So i put more vinegar in a container and hung the MN inside of it. After about a day it looked exactly the same. Me being impatient and not seeing any sort of result what so ever after a day i put it in the vinegar. After an hour i saw bubbles around different parts of the yoyo. I knew it was reacting with something… i just didn’t know what… so i let it sit and did some research. After about an hour i found a page on another forum talking about tarnishing an OG markmont. One person caked it with yellow mustard and got really cool results from it. Everyone else that tried it had no result or experienced pitting and ruined their yoyo. In a haste i took the yoyo out of the vinegar. I could see spots of where it started to do some pitting, barely noticeable though and affects play none whatsoever. So im not disappointed at all, i got to experiment with my yoyo and got to catch it before any drastic problems occurred.

The thing with the MN and most likely other nickel plated yoyos is that the Nickel is very very thin, And is inconsistently coated at a microscopic level. The acidic properties of the mustard and vinegar may have an affect on the tarnish of some yoyos and may end up pitting others due to tiny imperfections in each one. The MN and Markmont in particular ive noticed are extremely hard to tarnish for some reason, maybe something they do with the plating process thats different? But people on other forums say that their nickel yoyos tarnished in a day of soaking it in mustard and almost everyone that did a markmont was having trouble. I would never try to do this again… maybe someday. But for now, unless theres a sure way to tarnish the nickel, im just going to get some natural tarnishing by playing it. I wouldn’t ever recommend anyone doing something like this on a favorite yoyo of theirs… to many things can go wrong. If i ever get a beater nickel yoyo i’ll try this again with just the fumes, not soaking it. My MN is too nice to try and ruin as of now.


Good point. I didn’t take the time to consider how thin that nickel plating was. I’m going to ask my old art school friends about fatiguing nickel. Maybe they have some techniques that would be safer albeit slower that may help. One of then mentioned that if the nickel plating was polished it would be harder to tarnish since there would be a slight barrier.


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I’ve always wanted a cool paper weight like that…


Problem with a spinning paperweight is it throws the papers all over, so it’s not so good if you want the kind that holds paper down.

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All my paper weights do that idk what kind of paper weights you normally use ;).

Actually i noticed the half of the yoyo i tried to tarnish is been starting to look different. The Pitting has become a little more noticeable (still not bad enough to bother me), and some of the reflections are starting to look different… like colors and such, in the sun particularly… so maybe this experiment i did will sort of jumpstart the tarnish on the nickel? not sure ill keep it updated.