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Where can I find Ferric Chloride Hexahydrate in the USA?

Discussion in 'PCB Layout, Design and Manufacture' started by usalabs, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. usalabs


    Oct 21, 2016
    When I was in the UK, I used to build my own projects from the ground up, from creating the schematic, to creating PCB's, etching the tracks, drilling the component lead holes, etc etc, all the materials I could get from a huge electronics store called Maplin Electronics, but since I moved to the USA and now living here, I had a workshop built in my back yard and kitted it out with everything I needed to start up my project building again, but I can't seem to find where I can get any Ferric Chloride Hexahydrate crystals for burning off excess copper when etching the tracks, I asked my local pharmacist and he said because of it's volatile nature when mixed with water, FCH is only available to registered pharmacists, laboratories, PCB manufacturers,and school science labs, and is not available to the hobbyist, he also said even if I attempted to order it online, it would be intercepted and I would probably get into serious trouble for attempting to transport a volatile substance through the mail.

    FeCl3 (Ferric Chloride Hexahydrate) is much better than using H2SO4 (sulphuric Acid), or HCl (Hydrochloric Acid) because the latter 2 are to strong even when diluted in water.

    If I can't get it here, then it looks like I may have to sell all my stuff and move back to the UK where electronics hobbyists can buy these things.
  2. kellys_eye


    Jun 25, 2010
    FeCl3 is heavily used in water treatment plants and should be easily available. The major electronics suppliers will have it anyway (RS, Farnell etc) and as far as I'm aware it's not a 'controlled substance' so should be easily obtained.
  3. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

    Jun 21, 2012
    Perhaps you are unacquainted with our friend, Google. Here is a list of links that Google provided me when I typed in the text string (without the quotation marks) "ferric chloride hexahydrate price". If I omit the "price" qualifier, this is the resulting list. And if I choose the Amazon advertisement, the Amazon site offers these variations, including dry crystals (just add water) and pre-mixed solutions of various sizes. So, maybe you can remain in the Colonies awhile after all.:D

    BTW, your stomach uses hydrochloric acid to dissolve food, so blithely stating that it is impossible to sufficiently dilute either H2S04 (sulphuric acid) or HCl (hydrochloric acid) is a non sequitur. But I do agree that a ferric chloride solution is much safer to handle. There are other PCB etchants that you might want to explore while you are here.

    Making your own PCBs is fun, but for any serious work you probably need multiple layers with plated-through holes for vias connecting the layers. It is virtually impossible for the home-based hobbyist to create this type of PCB, but there are plenty of low-cost PCB fabricators who will offer you quick turn-arounds and not require the purchase of huge quantities. Again, make friends with Google to find a vendor you can work with.
  4. Minder


    Apr 24, 2015
    Agree, Unless you just want to do it for purely academic reasons, I could never produce the type of board you can get from such as Seeed, PCBway etc etc, offering qty 10 100mm x 100mm boards for $5.00 with plated through holes etc.
    I use the free Kicad PCB software schematic capture, board layout and Gerber files.
    hevans1944 likes this.
  5. KJ6EAD


    Aug 13, 2011
    VWR, Fisher and Mallinckrodt come to mind as manufacturers but your likely easiest, most readily available option is going to be MG Chemicals Ferric Chloride Etchant solution available from most of the electronic parts suppliers and even by online order from Walmart.
  6. Bluejets


    Oct 5, 2014
    Looked at circuitmaker (used it before) as they say there is a "free" version for hobbyists etc. but only looks like a 15 day trial as far as I can make out.
    They can be a bit devious like this sometimes.
    Any comment?
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