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The most common etchant for zinc alloys is Nital, however, there are numerous more specific etchants. A good resouce for additional etchants can be found with the etchant database provided by PACE Technologies, http://www.metallographic.com/Consumables/Etch.htm

Sample Preparation: Zinc alloys must be properly prepared to reveal the true metallographic microstructure. A number of recommended procedures can be found at the following links:

http://www.metallographic.com/Procedures/Lead-tin-zinc%20Description.htm

http://www.metallographic.com/Brochures/Met-Manual-2b.pdf

CAUTION: Safety is very important when etching. Be sure to wear the appropriate protective clothing and observe all WARNINGS on chemical manufacturers SDS (Safety Data Sheets). Also review COMMENTS Section for each etchant.

 Etchant Conc. Conditions Comments
Distilled water or Ethanol
Hydrochloric acid
100 ml
1-5 ml
Several minutes Zinc and zinc alloys
Distilled water
Sodium Hydroxide
100 ml
10 grams
1-5 seconds Low alloy zinc and pure zinc
Distilled water
CrO3
Na2SO4
100 ml
20 grams
1-5 grams