Ethnographic Arms & Armour

Ethnographic Arms & Armour (
-   Keris Warung Kopi (
-   -   Sulphur staining a keris Bugis (

jagabuwana 6th February 2021 12:57 AM

Sulphur staining a keris Bugis
8 Attachment(s)
This post is to show the results of staining using a sulphur, salt and rice water slurry on a keris lurus Bugis.

I had attempted this in 2018, the year I acquired it, though I abandoned mission after less than 24 hours because I was a bit more precious about this item than I am now. You can see the results in post #27 here.

Now this keris has become somewhat of a learning vehicle for staining.
I had tried realgar and it did absolutely nothing so I wanted to try sulphur again but this time for a full 7 days.

I am quite happy with the result. It is a little patchy in some areas but I expected this to happen and controlled for it as best as I could. I would definitely try this again with another blade if I needed to stain it, and in absence of good warangan.


* Sulphur, pulverised. Generic off eBay.
* Table salt.
* Rice water - collected off the first rinse of a pot of jasmine rice I was making.

Tools used
* Plant pot tray
* Tooth brush
* Tile grout brush with plastic bristles
* Dish detergent
* Lime juice (the cheap reconstituted stuff in the bottle)

1. Clean the blade until it's white clean. Dry.
2. Mix roughly equal amounts of sulfur and salt in a container long enough to lie the blade in
3. Add enough rice water to make a slurry. Whisk.
4. Submerge blade in slurry for a couple of minutes. Work in slurry with a toothbrush.
5. Remove from slurry and let excess drip back into the container.
6. Place in a length of cling wrap. Apply a little more slurry to the surfaces. Enough to coat the blade, but don't soak it. Wrap the blade.
7. Check every 24h. It should have turned quite black by now. Reapply slurry to any areas that look abit more exposed to air (where it is less black).
8. Remove after 7 days.
9. Wash blade under cold running water with detergent and scrub off as much stain as you can. Depending on the integrity of your blade you may need a harder brush than a tooth brush. At this point I used the tile grout brush.
10. At this point there will likely be patchiness in the staining. I evened out and clarified the results by using cheap lime juice and scrubbing even more. This took around half an hour.
11. Dry using lint free cloth and hair dryer.


(A) Before the staining

(B) The salt and sulphur in a plant pot tray. Roughly equal amounts.

(C) The consistency of the slurry after adding rice water. Sulfur seems to want to stay powder dry and it does not dissolve well. This slightly improved over the days.

(D) After 24 hrs. Jet black thick ink-like substance. Some areas were a little more exposed so I reapplied the slurry using a tooth brush. From this point on there are no more reapplications.

(E) After roughly 4 days. A rust-coloured residue developed. I have not reapplied anymore since after day 2.

(F) Results after scrubbing (see 9-11 in the Method). As you can see in F2 and F3 there are tinges of surface rust starting to appear due to being exposed too long to air without an oil to protect it. I spent too long between drying and applying WD40.

* Do as much of this outside if you can. And wear gloves and old clothes. Unless you want your house and self to smell like the sweet aromas of the most intense farts produced from a diet consisting of only eggs, beans and processed food.

*I suspect that bathing the blade in the slurry does pretty much nothing other than darken the blade slightly. If you want to save on ingredients and mess, then skip this step and just make enough slurry to apply to the blade.

*I have issues with using the right tenses when writing. Sorry if this makes things confusing.

A. G. Maisey 6th February 2021 01:46 AM

Looks pretty OK to me.

A. G. Maisey 6th February 2021 01:49 AM

I did this method years ago. A lot of years.

My memory is that it went onto the blade like a paste and when I took it out of the plastic, some of the sulphur & stuff stuck to it, which then needed to be gently removed with water and a brush.

David 6th February 2021 02:21 AM

Nice result and very nicely presented. Thanks! :)

Jean 6th February 2021 09:09 AM

Very interesting, thanks! The "sweet" smell of rotten eggs and the black colour of the blade are indicating the production of hydrogen sulphide and iron sulphide on the blade respectively.

jagabuwana 7th February 2021 10:46 PM

Thank you everyone

Jean - thanks for sharing that. Now I am curious as to whether this would work without the salt and/or the starchy water.

Alan - yes that was my experience too. The staining stuff was pretty sticky and caked onto the blade.

I would be interested to do the same thing on a blade that is less grainy and porous as this one. But at the moment I don't have an appropriate candidate.

Jean 8th February 2021 08:51 AM


Originally Posted by jagabuwana
Jean Now I am curious as to whether this would work without the salt and/or the starchy water.

Hello Jaga,
I don't know but probably not.
Regards :)

GIO 8th February 2021 10:56 AM

I tried this method with one of the very first kerises of my collection, more or less 35 years ago. I started with a Bali Keris with an almost undiscernible pamor and an uniform light grey colour. After one week treatment and a terrible smell all around, I found that the iron was corroded, while the nickel of the pamor was left intact and in relief, in great contrast with the blackish iron.
The result was good and there was no need to make further treatments to the blade, except rinsing and oiling. I have somewhere the pics taken before and after, shall publish them soon.

GIO 8th February 2021 06:44 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Here are the pics as promised. Please do not comment on the quality....

GIO 8th February 2021 06:47 PM

The "hilt" in the second pic is not a keris hilt.

Mickey the Finn 15th February 2021 04:33 PM

jagabuwana, your photos show precisely the same results which I get when I take a Mora knife or industrial planer blade, wrap in plastic film, and then pour in enough lemon juice to wet the blade. When I submerge rusty hex-head cap screws in lemon juice, the result is the same. In all cases, the stench after unwrapping or removing the lid is horrendous in a ripe cheese sort of way. Everything turns black, but when I clean away the sludge from the blades, the black colour lacks staying power. If it wasn't for this last bit, I might have concluded that the sulfur could be dispensed with, and lemon juice alone might work well enough to achieve a stain of sorts. I've been informed that sulfur can be bought at home improvement/hardware/gardening supply stores. I may have to buy some and try this alchemy to see whether sulfur is indeed the crucial ingredient which gives the black the staying power to endure even toothbrush scrubbing. If not, I may have to set about establishing myself as an amateur hobbyist mineral collector to get my hands on some arsenic as found in nature.

A. G. Maisey 15th February 2021 08:22 PM

Mickey, there has been more than little discussion in the pages of this Forum about blade staining. My own experience is that any mildly acid substance will clean a ferric material, and usually leave some sort of stain.

The effect of laboratory quality white arsenic, when correctly applied is probably as good as can be achieved. The result from native arsenic varies considerably from excellent to totally useless.

For a quick stain on a previously stained blade, white household vinegar works pretty well, or least it lets you see the pamor pattern and to a degree, read the iron.

The method that Jaga used is mentioned in an old colonial era book, I tried it a few times more than 60 years ago, and each time I used it the result was not too bad. I have never used it on a new, previously unstained blade, but I suspect it would not prove to be as satisfactory on a previously unstained blade as it is on a blade that already has traces of arsenic from previous stainings adhering to it.

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 05:17 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.