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

Type of Steel: 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
Others 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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