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
Grade Process Etch time Surface change
All grades
150–160°F regular strength 7-10 seconds Brightens
70°F double strength 2 minutes Brightens
Removing color from titanium using Multi‑Etch
Note: Times are for removing high-voltage green; lower voltage colors will take less time to remove.
Grade Process Etch time Surface change
1 (CP)
150–160°F regular strength 30 seconds Brightens/matte
150–160°F double strength 30 seconds Brightens/matte
70°F double strength 6 minutes Brightens/matte
2 (CP)
150–160°F regular strength 2 minutes Brightens/matte
150–160°F double strength 75 seconds Brightens/matte
70°F double strength 24 minutes Brightens/matte
4 (CP)
150–160°F regular strength 50 seconds Brightens/matte
150–160°F double strength 40 seconds Brightens/matte
70°F double strength 8 minutes Brightens/matte
5 (6/4 aircraft grade)
150–160°F regular strength 1 minute 40 seconds Brightens/matte
150–160°F double strength 1 minute Brightens/matte
70°F double strength 40 minutes Brightens/matte
Etch rates for titanium using Multi‑Etch
Grade Process Etch time (minutes) Etch depth (inches, cumulative total) Surface change
1 (CP)
150–160°F regular strength
1 0.00012 Brightens/matte
2 0.00023 Brightens/matte
3 0.0004 Brightens/matte
150–160°F double strength
1 0.00023 Brightens/matte
2 0.0006 Brightens/matte
3 0.0008 Brightens/matte
2 (CP)
150–160°F regular strength
1 0.00016 Brightens/matte
2 0.00036 Brightens/matte
3 0.00046 Brightens/matte
150–160°F double strength
1 0.00045 Brightens/matte
2 0.00092 Brightens/matte
3 0.00115 Brightens/matte
4 (CP)
150–160°F regular strength
1 0.00015 Brightens/matte
2 0.0003 Brightens/matte
3 0.00035 Brightens/matte
150–160°F double strength
1 0.00025 Brightens/matte
2 0.001 Brightens/matte
3 0.0012 Brightens/matte
5 (6/4 aircraft grade)
150–160°F double strength
1 no change Brightens/matte
2 0.000084 Brightens/matte
3 0.00022 Brightens/matte
4 0.00043 Brightens/matte