Carbon, in one form or another, is the base of all black pigments. By far the most common of these, as used in structural plants, is graphite. Other black pigments are lamp-black (including carbon black) and bone-black, the former being produced in many grades, varying in price from twopence to half a crown per pound. Bone-black, which is refuse from the sugar-house black, varies in the percentage of carbon contained, which is usually about 10 or 12 per cent, the remainder being the mineral matter originally present in the bone, and containing 3 or 4 per cent of carbonate, whilst most of the remainder is phosphate of lime. Lamp-black is an absolutely impalpable powder, which having a small amount of greasy matter in it, greatly retards the drying of the oil with which it may be mixed. For this reason it is not used by itself, but is added in small quantity to other paints, which it affects by changing their colour, and probably their durability. For example, it is a common practice to add it to red lead, in order to tone down its brilliant colour, and also to correct the tendency it has to turn white, due to the conversion of the red oxide of lead into the carbonate.
For colouring iron and steel a dead black of superior appearance and permanency, the following is a good formula: 1 part bismuth chloride, 2 parts mercury bi-chloride, 1 part copper chloride, 6 parts hydrochloric acid, 5 parts alcohol, and 50 parts lamp-black, these being all well mixed. To use this preparation successfully—the article to be blacked or bronzed being first made clean and free from grease—it is applied with a swab or brush, or, better still, the object may be dipped into it; the liquid is allowed to dry on the metal, and the latter is then placed in boiling water, the temperature being maintained for half an hour. If, after this, the colour is not so dark as is desired, the operation has simply to be repeated, and the result will be found satisfactory. After obtaining the desired degree of colour, the latter is fixed, as well as much improved generally, by placing for a few minutes in a bath of boiling oil, or by coating the surface with oil, and heating the object till the oil is completely driven off The intense black obtained by this method is admirable.
Another black coating for ironwork, which is really a lacquer, is obtained by melting ozokerite, which becomes a brown resinous mass, with a melting-point at 140 deg. F. The melted mass is then further heated to 212 deg. F., the boiling-point of water. The objects to be lacquered are scoured clean by rubbing with dry sand, and are dipped in the melted mass. They are then allowed to drip, and the ozokerite is ignited by the objects being held over a fire. After the ozokerite has burned away, the flame is extinguished, and the iron acquires a firmly adhering black coating, which resists atmospheric influences, as well as acids and alkalies. If the black iron vessels are to contain alkaline liquids, the above operation is repeated.