Table of traditional etching methods, their dangers, subsititute safe electrolytic and electrochemical methods: Galv-etch and Galv-on, Bordeaux etch, ink-ground, fractint, vegetable cleaning agent and other non-toxic ecologically safe methods and materials. Extract from GREEN PRINTS by Cedric Green published by Ecotech Design, Sheffield, UK. - a handbook on new methods for non-toxic intaglio etching and metal plate printmaking, featuring the technique of Galv-Etch, a modern development of the 19th century electrolytic technique of Electro-Etching, and introducing Fractint and other alternative methods avoiding the use of solvents and chemicals harmful to health and to the environment.

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TRADITIONAL METHODS ILL EFFECTS AND DANGERS SUBSTITUTE METHODS FOUND

Etching copper plates:
nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, Dutch mordant, ferric chloride.

Etching zinc, aluminium, steel plates:
nitric acid, ferric chloride.

Nitrogen dioxide poisoning damage to eyes, lungs, nasal membranes., skin damage.

See above

Electrolytic processes: for all metal plates :
galv-etch and galv-on

'Bordeaux etch' non-electrolytic substitute for etching zinc plates.

Hard and soft ground:
Smoked turpentine based wax and asphaltum grounds; turpentine based wax and grease.
Irritation of mucous membranes, Nausea, headaches, toxic or carcinogenic fumes when heated, depression of central nervous system. Insulating ink ground:
relief printing ink applied by soft roller - after drying as hard ground - before drying as soft ground.
Aquatint:
powdered pine rosin; powdered asphaltum
Rosin dust allergy, toxic rosin fumes, carcinogenic asphaltum fumes. Headaches, skin and eye irritation.

Fractint, Salt aquatint : grounding with relief printing ink, produced in press.
Sugar lift tint - with ink ground

Stopping out:
Methanol (methylated spirit) based varnish.
Methanol - Headaches, skin and eye irritation. Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) based varnish: shellac flakes dissolved in ethyl alcohol.
Cleaning of varnish or ground:
Methanol, turpentine, naptha (white spirit, turps substitute).

Methanol - Headaches, skin and eye irritation. .
White spirits, Turpentine -
Irritation of mucous membranes, depression of central nervous system, skin damage; suspected kidney damage.

Ethanol:
ethyl alcohol for cleaning varnish, ink ground or fractint.
Vegetable Cleaning Agent (VCA) . Ecological 'white spirit subsitute' (ester of vegetable oil).

Cleaning inked plates or tools:
turpentine, naptha (white spirit)
White spirits, Turpentine - Irritation of mucous membranes, depression of central nervous system, skin damage; suspected kidney damage. Vegetable Cleaning Agent (VCA) or vegetable coooking oil - followed by household detergent. Ethanol for dried ink. Vinegar for hardened ink.

 

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©: . Last altered on March 14, 2013