WARNING: Anodising mixes electricity and water and can be dangerous! Do NOT try this at home! Leave this to the professionals where we can put safety precautions in place.
Anodising is a process using electricity to change to colour of metals in the reactive metals family. These include Titanium and Niobium which are two of the main materials used in body jewellery today. This article is going to get sciencey but bear with us and we’ll help you understand.
Anodes, Cathodes, What!?
For anodising to work it requires a DC power supply (think batteries, toy train sets, NOT wall socket power), an electrolyte bath (distilled water with epsom salt) and for the whole process to be free of ferrous metals (Iron based metal e.g. steel). Those of you who remember physics at school will remember that for an electric circuit to work the circuit must be closed and complete. Our circuit is completed when jewellery is attached to the Anode (positive, red wire) and submerged in the electrolyte bath. The diagram above shows this:
Once the circuit is complete the reaction will begin and you will see the jewellery change colour! The reason the jewellery changes colour is all down to refraction. Those with their physics hat on will remember that this is how rainbows form. A perfect example of this is the Dark Side of the Moon Album Cover by Pink Floyd.
As Titanium and Niobium are reactive metals, they react with the air around us. This forms an Oxide layer on the surface and it is this layer that makes implant grade Titanium and Niobium safe to go inside the body. During the anodising process we are growing this Oxide layer so that it becomes slightly thicker. When light hits this Oxide layer rather than reflect straight off the light rays are slowed down and the visible colour changes. An added bonus of the Oxide layer growth, is that any polishing compound or machining residue is pushed out so the jewellery is cleaner and safer for the body!
Unlike the visible light spectrum, anodising cannot create all the colours of the rainbow. Red, Black and White are unavailable. There is a heat treatment method available for Niobium which can create a very dark grey. This is currently the best option for black jewellery. There are plenty of other vivid colours available that can be combined to to create unique patterns and styles.
As well as new jewellery we can also anodise old body jewellery that you already own by creating a disposable setup to prevent your jewellery from becoming contaminated.
If you’re still feeling confused about anodising then never fear, Rogue is here! Book a Free Consultation to pop in and have a chat with us so we can come up with something as unique as you are!
Next week’s blog will be all about needles! Don’t worry it won’t be scary, but it will leave you feeling more confident about your future piercings. Have a good week!