Etching titanium with Multi-Etch

An anodized piece of titanium treated with Multi-Etch (top) and without (bottom).

An anodized piece of titanium treated with Multi-Etch (top) and without (bottom).

How to etch titanium with Multi-Etch, the safer alternative to hydrofluoric acid

Multi-Etch was originally developed for use on titanium, and is a perfect low acid (pH 6.8) alternative to hazardous hydrofluoric (HF) acid

How much titanium will one gallon of Multi-Etch etch? Approximately 1,500 square inches of titanium when dipped for three seconds at 120–150°F. As you etch, the etchant gradually becomes ineffective and contaminated with titanium ions that can re-plate to the metal, causing uneven anodizing.

Etch times shown in the charts below are guidelines. Etch times can vary depending on the freshness of the etch bath.

Surface finish — whether polished, matte, etc. — will be maintained as long as the etch time is less than 20 seconds. Longer etch times will tend to change polished finishes to matte. After 5 minutes, the finish starts to trend to semi-polished.

Titanium with mill oxides, which are hard to see, may require longer etching times. For many small parts, use a tumbler with ceramic media moistened with double strength Multi-Etch; tumble for approximately 15 minutes.

Download a PDF version of titanium etch rates for Multi-Etch.

Preparing titanium for anodizing or welding using Multi‑Etch
GradeProcessEtch timeSurface change
All grades
150–160°F regular strength7-10 secondsBrightens
70°F double strength2 minutesBrightens
Removing color from titanium using Multi‑Etch
Note: Times are for removing high-voltage green; lower voltage colors will take less time to remove.
GradeProcessEtch timeSurface change
1 (CP)
150–160°F regular strength30 secondsBrightens/matte
150–160°F double strength30 secondsBrightens/matte
70°F double strength6 minutesBrightens/matte
2 (CP)
150–160°F regular strength2 minutesBrightens/matte
150–160°F double strength75 secondsBrightens/matte
70°F double strength24 minutesBrightens/matte
4 (CP)
150–160°F regular strength50 secondsBrightens/matte
150–160°F double strength40 secondsBrightens/matte
70°F double strength8 minutesBrightens/matte
5 (6/4 aircraft grade)
150–160°F regular strength1 minute 40 secondsBrightens/matte
150–160°F double strength1 minuteBrightens/matte
70°F double strength40 minutesBrightens/matte
Etch rates for titanium using Multi‑Etch
GradeProcessEtch time (minutes)Etch depth (inches, cumulative total)Surface change
1 (CP)
150–160°F regular strength
10.00012Brightens/matte
20.00023Brightens/matte
30.0004Brightens/matte
150–160°F double strength
10.00023Brightens/matte
20.0006Brightens/matte
30.0008Brightens/matte
2 (CP)
150–160°F regular strength
10.00016Brightens/matte
20.00036Brightens/matte
30.00046Brightens/matte
150–160°F double strength
10.00045Brightens/matte
20.00092Brightens/matte
30.00115Brightens/matte
4 (CP)
150–160°F regular strength
10.00015Brightens/matte
20.0003Brightens/matte
30.00035Brightens/matte
150–160°F double strength
10.00025Brightens/matte
20.001Brightens/matte
30.0012Brightens/matte
5 (6/4 aircraft grade)
150–160°F double strength
1no changeBrightens/matte
20.000084Brightens/matte
30.00022Brightens/matte
40.00043Brightens/matte