Add DIY Permanent Volume Markings On A Metal Container

Add DIY Permanent Volume Markings On A Metal Container
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Need more measuring options in the kitchen? A Redditor shared a neat trick to make permanent markings on any metal tumbler or saucepan. Most of the items needed should be in your house, or you can pick them up for very little.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 volt battery
  • Cotton bud
  • Adhesive stencils

Make a solution of the vinegar and salt. As the uploader mentions, the method uses electrolytic acid etching, basically removing metal from the pot. You’ll need to hook up the positive lead of the battery to the pot and the negative lead to the cotton bud. The negative lead has to be attached in a way that it touches the vinegar solution when the Q-tip is dipped into it. To make the etchings, just dip the Q-tip and scrape it against the pot.

If you hear some sizzling or see some bubbling, you know it is working. It only takes a few seconds of contact to permanently dissolve some metal. I suggest testing it on another piece of the same metal that you don’t care much about before etching your kettle.

The adhesive stencils are to mark the volume measurements on the cup. The best option would be to pour water from a measuring jug into the pot and marking the measurements you need.

The Reddit thread has plenty of useful suggestions by commenters, while the Imgur link has step-by-step instructions with pictures from the original uploader.

How to add permanent volume markings to a kettle. [Imgur via Reddit]


      • The resistance that stainless steel has against oxidization is due to the chromium within the alloy providing a layer of chromium oxide when it is exposed to oxygen. By performing this lifehack & corroding the alloy by means of electrolysis will first corrode the chromium because it’s more conductive to the electricity used in this process. By corroding this layer you’re leaving the steel underneath exposed & without the chromium-oxide protective layer & as such – yes it will leave the exposed areas susceptible to rust.

        • Isn’t the Chromium all the way through the material – “stainless steel” is an actual material, unlike Colourbond or glavanised steel which is just a surface treatment?

  • doing this to stainless steel will release harmful chemicals, so open the window or wear a mask

  • depends on the grade of stainless steel… The lower grades gets rust spots quite easily which admittedly defeats the whole purpose, but the lower the grade the cheaper the cost,

    A very rough guide is that if magnets stick to it, its very likely to be a low grade and will rust eventually

  • Used that technique ages ago to etch my really worn out feeler gauges, amongst other tools and auto parts, I remembered the trick back when I was working in high end heat insulation using Inconel Stainless Steel. The steel was etched with part and batch # and taken to 500°C +. The markings never budged and remained readable (which was a mandatory requirement for the military). But for the sake of saying so, etching with vinegar and salt can be replaced with diluted ammonium + salt or simpler yet with ferric chloride (PCB etching stuff) and no rust formation from them 2, but both are potent and dangerous, but give awesome results. AC current is better, for it reoxidises the markings and gives it a black look but doesn’t dig deep. DC current etches deeper however and has a whiter marking, Combo of the 2 is possible (even recommended) as you can go deep in DC and mark it using AC by redepositing the oxidised material you just striped back into the etch. And reoxidising is the ultimate rustproof gear. Hope this helps your decision making.

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