Temporary Glowforge?


It’s interesting, but part of me wonders how safe it is after it has been applied. Is it still active on the wood when heat is removed? Can it be transferred to your hands and face by touch, later? Shouldn’t it be washed off the wood later? Lots of safety questions considering that even watered down it remains such a caustic solution.


I did just a google search for “ammonia react with wood” and it looks like this is a pretty common technique in the woodworking world.

This page has an interesting video placing a whole piece of furniture into a vapor “tent” although it’s not as pronounced as the video above. http://www.finewoodworking.com/2006/08/15/how-to-fume-furniture-with-ammonia


My Dad told me once that you can change the color of some woods by applying ammonia in a vacuum seal. The way he described it made it seem like the wood turned really bright pink, greens and oranges. I’d forgotten about that until just now.

My dad also used to shrink dollar bills for us in vats of ammonia. He worked with refrigerants.




at 15% it’s unlikely to do anything, but more to the point, when heated, ammonium chloride decomposes rapidly and evolves both NH4 and HCl (both gases) - there’s likely little left on the wood.

ammonia is actually used in baking, too; it’s called baker’s ammonia, and comes in the form of ammonium carbonate. when heated, it decomposes and releases NH4 and CO2. nothing to worry about here, just don’t eat the stuff pure.

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I watched this video a few days ago and thought about posting it here. Then I thought that’s a lot more work than it will be to throw a piece of wood in the Glowforge so I’ll keep waiting to be able to do stuff like that. Do I have to turn in my maker card for saying such a thing?


i don’t really agree. additionally, you can use this technique on all sorts of wooden pieces that will never fit in a glowforge.

Good point. I hadn’t thought of that. I just pictured projects I currently have in mind for my Glowforge.

I ordered some materials for this on Amazon yesterday when everyone I know seemed to run across it online. I’ll post results tomorrow.


It’s also a lot easier for those who aren’t good with tech. Of course that doesn’t necessarily apply to us here, but it’s a fun tech-free alternative.


I knew a woodworking monk who used to bury wood in a bath of yoghurt in the ground for a year; he did it because the yoghurt would react with the wood to create new colours in it. He would then lathe the wood into bowls etc.

I do not have a single carpentry/woodturning gene in my body so i do know if it worked or not


This technique mixed with the Glowforge to cut off masking could do large area fills evenly without raster lines too.


I gave it a try. It definitely bleeds into the wood, but it’s still pretty cool. I tried out a stamp and painted “hello” with a brush.

If you scored some lines to keep the fluid from bleeding into other areas, it would definitely be a cool way to fill an area without waiting for the long engraving time. It also creates a nice color variation you don’t get with the laser.


fun result! thanks for testing it out, haha. it looks like you really gotta use a light hand huh

Actually, it took a couple minutes to get it to fully show up. It took quite a bit of heat.

oh, i mostly meant in applying the liquid. i’m always surprised at how un-readily wood burns when i actually want it to.

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I tried that once when I worked in the zoo… did not go so well.


what on earth is that video from?


What measurements did you use for your ammonium chloride solution? I’m thinking some experimentation might control the bleed. Also, guessing closed grain woods will perform better than open grain…