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Flaming the Base Coat

If the silver will not deposit evenly on the base coat in spite of following our instructions on cleaning, wetting and sensitizing to the letter, we have two suggestions. You can try flame treating the surface or you can dip the piece in a dilute bath of 2-Part Spray Silver. See No-Spray Spary Chrome.

What is the Problem?

Plastics such as polyurethane (Clear Uni-Coat) repel water because they have a very low level of surface energy. The water molecules are more attracted to each other than they are to the surface of the plastic. If the water is not attracted to or in contact with the plastic, the active ingredients in the water - the Sensitizer and the silvering chemicals - will not adhere. The answer is to force the water into contact with the plastic or to increase the chemical attraction between the plastic and the water.

The idea of flaming the base coat is not new. We have been reluctant to suggest it because, in most cases, our Wetting Agent is a safe and effective alternative and because a lit propane torch is dangerous. Waving a lit torch around in a work shop is even more dangerous. Remove ALL flammable objects from your work area and NEVER leave a lit torch unattended.

Why It Works

When you pass the flame over the surface, you break some of the bonds in the plastic chain molecules and create additional chemical bond sites that increase the surface energy or Dyne level of the surface. Water molecules are attracted to the bond sites and the active ingredients in the water - the Sensitizer and the Silver - can attach more evenly. In effect, the flame treatment is an aggressive form of Wetting Agent. For best results, you should still use Wetting Agent before you sensitize the piece.

How to Flame the Base Coat

  1. Clean the cured base coat thoroughly with Glass Cleaner. The flaming process can bake in dust and other contaminates.
  2. Use a standard propane torch from the hardware store. Obey ALL precautions on the label.
  3. Place your piece on a non-flammable surface away from any flammable objects.
  4. Light the torch and set it to a wide bushy (reducing) flame.
  5. Beginning at one end of the piece, pass the torch slowly down to the other end covering the entire surface as you go.
  6. You may see a very light mist moving ahead of the flame.
  7. Do NOT linger on one area. You are NOT trying to warm the piece or melt the surface. You are only trying to affect the top molecular layer of plastic.
  8. Turn off the torch. The piece should be cool enough to pick up.
  9. The effect of flaming can last for days but it is best to proceed with the chroming process as soon as you can.  
  10. Follow our instructions for chroming, beginning with the Wetting Agent and Sensitizer.

Angel Gilding has no control over the way in which these instructions are used and disavows all responsibility for any consequence arising from this process.