Iron & Carbon Steel Etchants

Please use the table below to select the correct etchant for your steel.

Type of Steels:

Etchant to Use:

Carbon steels and mild steels in general Nital
Cast irons & tool steels (most) Nital

Carburized or heat treated carbon steels

First Picral then Nital


See this list

Microstructures of Steel:

Both ferrite grains and carbides First Picral then Nital
General alloy segregation, carbide networks and grain-boundary of carbides, Bainite Picral
As-quenched martensite, Ferrite grains and ferrite grain boundaries Nital
Martensite, tempered First Picral then Nital
Pearlite Nital or Picral
Prior-austenite grains Prior-austenite grain boundaries etch


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