How To Make Purpleheart Very Purple

Oxidation purpleheart


The coloring comes variety of organic compounds called conjugated dienes, that reflect visible light in both the high and low end range of the visible spectrum (from 400-700nm). Some of which have solubility in polar protic compounds like water, others of which are only soluble in organic solvents.

That’s where the magic of acetone comes in. It is highly polar, but it is non-protic, therefore it dissolves them all. And by dissolving them, they work their way to the surface and bring all of their bright beautiful purple color with them.

The ultraviolet rays from the sun then do their part and kick off the first oxidation reaction to finalize the effect.

But don’t store your piece in the sun. Further oxidation will result in chemical changes leading to brown. And nobody wants brown Purpleheart.

Follow these steps for best results:

1) finish sand your piece.
2) wet with acetone thoroughly
3) set piece in full bright sun
4) flip piece every 30 min.
5) re-wet with acetone each time you flip
6) repeat cycle for 3-4 hours.
7) let piece rest indoors for an additional day or more before finishing. (Oxidation is continuing)
8. seal thoroughly with top coat of choice. (Mine is lacquer) about 4 coats
9) put UV protectant over that (ie spar urethane, to keep your purple color. (Stops further oxidation)

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  • Paul on

    I’m wondering if this process will work for pink ivory as well?

  • Neil Renney on

    If I am correct, wood naturally changes color as it ages, faster in the sun than not.
    So, does this process eliminate the ageing process or slow it down? Does this process also work with Cherry and other species?

  • James on

    I’m trying this out, in full sun, but not getting much purpler. I’ll let it sit for a day as recommended. Does anything work as well as acetone?

  • Homerlex on

    Can spar urethane be put over any type of lacquer (oil based, water based)?

  • Keith on

    Maybe try a UV bulb from the Hardware store? Just a thought. Being in Michigan, now Winter, sunlight can be sparse too. I’ll be trying this out tomorrow…

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