How to Etch Glass

Did you know that you can etch anything you want onto glass with some inexpensive etching cream in less than 5 minutes?  Seriously, it’s such a simple and quick process.  Just think about all of the customized glassware and handmade gifts that you can make!

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on glass etching and walking you through my latest craft project.  I etched the names of each oil onto my cooking oil bottles.  In this post I’m sharing the cut files so that you can cut your own stencils with a cricut or silhouette.  If you don’t have one of those, you can follow the instructions to create your own glass etching project using any stencil of your choice.

Glass Etching Supplies

Etching cream

Glass Object ( I used oil bottles)

Adhesive Stencil

Paint Brush

Masking tape or painters tape

Safety gear (gloves and eye protection)

How to etch glass 1

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  Thanks for the support!

Stencils

You’ll need an adhesive stencil for glass etching projects.  The possibilities are endless especially if you have a cricut or silhouette.  Just design the stencil, cut it out on vinyl and then transfer it to the glassware.

If you don’t have a vinyl cutting machine you could use contact paper or vinyl and cut out your own custom design.

If you are looking for premade stencils, there are so many to choose from at craft stores.  You can even buy glass etching stencil kits!

Free Oil Bottle SVG Cut File

License info: 100% free for personal use only.  Files cannot be resold, modified or used commercially.

If you are wanting to etch oil bottles like mine, enter your name and email in the box below and we’ll send the files directly to your inbox.  

I used the font devasia if you are want the same look with a different oil.

Directions – How to etch glass

Step 1 – Clean the glass

First, clean the glass with alcohol.  Then put on rubber gloves before you apply your stencil.  The oils and dirt on your fingers can actually hinder the etching cream process so gloves will eliminate that as an issue.  Plus, it’s important to wear gloves when using etching cream.

Step 2 – Apply the stencil

Place your stencil on the glassware where you want it.  Then press down on points all over the stencil ensuring that the entire stencil is sticking to the glass.  If there are bubbles or loose areas the etching cream will migrate under the stencil and your design will not turn out as planned.

If you are having difficulty getting the stencil to stay down you can use a hair dryer or heat gun to help it adhere.  This will also help if you have any bubbles.

If you are using vinyl be sure that it isn’t permanent.  You’ll have a very hard time removing the stencil if you use the wrong type of vinyl.

How to etch glass stencil

You’ll want about an inch all around the stenciled area to be covered so if your stencil has a thin border, add masking tape or painters tape to cover more of the glass surface.

How to apply stencil to glass for etching

Step 3 – Apply the glass etching cream

Shake it well before every use!

Ok, hear me out.  The bottle of armor etch says to paint the etching cream on and leave it on for 1 minute at most.  What I’ve noticed in my early glass etching projects is that this isn’t enough time to get a good quality etch on the glass.  So here are some tips based on my past experience.  First, put it on liberally.  Slop it on over the void spaces in the stencil so that it is covering the entire stencil.  Then apply some more brushing in different directions for 2-3 minutes.  Up down, left right and diagonals… you get it.  Just be sure not to push hard since that could shift the stencil.

how to apply etching cream to glass

Step 4 – Rinse off the glass etching cream

First, wipe off the excess etching cream with a paper towel.

Next, rinse off the remainder of the etching cream with warm water.  You’ll definitely want to keep your gloves on for this process.

How to etch glass - Washing the etching cream off

Step 5 – Remove the stencil

Peel off the tape and stencil.  If there is excess residue from the stencil you can clean the glass with windex or alcohol.

how to etch glass 2

If the glass will be used for consumables (food or drink) you’ll definitely want to wash it before you add any food or liquid to the glassware.

How to etch glass oil bottles

Etching glassware is a great way to personalize a gift for weddings, birthdays and holidays.  It’s extremely easy to do and very inexpensive.  Next time you’re at the thrift store pick up some glassware items to upcycle and customize with glass etching. 

Frequently asked questions about glass etching

How does glass etching cream work?

If you’re anything like me you may be wondering how etching cream works.  Well, it’s basically a diluted hydroflluoric acid that dissolves the molecular bonds within the glass.  Do you remember that bathtub scene from breaking bad?  Yeah, that stuff.  Just not as concentrated.  Still be sure to wear gloves though.

Glass is mostly composed of silicon and oxygen. When the etching cream is applied to the glass the flourine atoms in the hydrofluoric acid react with the silicon atoms in the glass and break their bonds to the oxygen atoms in the glass.  This causes the molecular structure of the glass to change thus etching the glass.  

Is etching on glass permanent?

Yes, it is absolutely permanent.  It will not wash away when you clean the glass.  It also cannot be removed if you made a mistake.  If you’re wanting to cover up a bad etch job think of it like a tattoo and find yourself a larger stencil to re-etch the glass and cover the mishap.

Why is my etch splotchy?

If there was debris or oils on the glass that may cause the etched portion of your glass to look splotchy.  Be sure to clean the glass with alcohol before applying etch cream and always wear gloves not only to protect your hands from the etch cream but also to keep oils and dirt off of the glass.

Can you etch any kind of glass?

Pretty much any glass.  The only type of glass that you may have issues etching is some Pyrex bakeware because it is tempered for high heat resistance.

What happens when you leave etching cream on too long?

The bottle of armor etch says to leave it on for 1 minute at most but to be honest, I leave it on for more like 2-3 minutes.  I haven’t had any issues leaving it on a few minutes longer than recommended but if you are in an instance where you forgot about your project there are a few issues that could arise.  First, your stencil could be weakened and somewhat dissolved.  This could impact the quality of your image and also make it difficult to remove the stencil.  The second issue that you may encounter is scorching the glass.

Is etched glass dishwasher safe?

Totally!  Well assuming the glass was dishwasher safe before you etched it.  When you use etching cream to etch glass it doesn’t go very deep so the integrity of the glass is maintained. However, if you were engraving glass or carving it I would recommend hand washing only.

If you want to save this post for later, you can pin it below. πŸ™‚

How to etch glass & Free Oil bottle cut file

Other glass etching projects:

Popular Cricut/Silhouette Projects

Follow me on Instagram  Pinterest and Facebook so that you never miss a post.

3 Comments

    1. Thank you Cindy! I went through an embarrassing number of fonts before I finally settled on this one. πŸ˜‰

  1. Wow, such great detail. I like your article. I want to read more about your blog. Thank you for sharing an amazing post.

Leave a Comment :)