Tired of half-filled cups of water littering your kitchen counters (and bathroom and bedrooms and patio)? Personalized cups for your family members means eliminating oodles of dishwashing! This salt water etching technique for engraving stainless steel is easy, fun and even the kids can help! Eliminate unnecessary plastic in your household with these sturdy stainless steel cups.
Having kids means random things littered around the house and if I had a dollar for every half-filled cup of water left loitering around my house I’d be sipping virgin margaritas in Cabo on a full-time basis. It used to be like the movie Signs up in this place; those cups were driving me crazy! I was also sick of the little ones swapping germs when they grabbed some random cup off the counter for a drink.
Enter these personalized cups! They have simplified life IMMENSELY and my kids love them too. We keep everyone’s cup in one corner of the counter at all times and they can come grab a drink whenever they need to. We also use them for meals and I only have to throw them in the dishwasher about once a week since we drink water 99% of the time.
This salt water etching method is as easy as it gets and I churned through 8 cups in no time! Read on for all the instructions and the video tutorial.
stainless steel tumblers
9 volt battery
Electric leads with alligator clips
vinyl stencil (I used my Cricut Maker machine to create mine)
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup salt
**Caution: this chemical process will emit a foul smell. Don’t inhale it! Be sure to do this DIY in a well-ventilated area.
- Wash cup thoroughly.
- Cut a stencil out of vinyl with your Cricut machine. Trim the vinyl and apply transfer tape to the top.
- Peel off the vinyl backing and apply it to the cup. Remove transfer tape.
- Pour salt into water and stir.
- Wet one end of a Q-tip with the salt water.
- Connect red lead clip to positive terminal of battery and other end of red lead to cup rim.
- Connect black lead clip to negative terminal of battery and other end of black lead to the wet end of Q-tip.
- Use the wet Q-tip to rub the exposed metal within the stencil. Continue rubbing until Q-tip begins to change colors. It will first become yellow, and then a darker red and sometimes black. Change Q-tips as necessary. I used 3 total for this project.
- When the etching is as dark as desired, remove the stencil, wash cup well and enjoy fewer cups lounging around the house!These would make a fabulous wedding or baby present too!
I bought these silicone sippy lids to go with them and LOVE them. They work perfectly for Mimi and even Alice can work them (and she can’t figure out any of our other sippy cups!)
StephanieMarch 22, 2018 at 7:22 am
These are great! Do the initials start to rust after a while?
BonnieMarch 22, 2018 at 1:58 pm
So far so good! A commenter on FB suggested only handwashing etched metal but we’ve thrown them in the dishwasher and they still look great after a month or so. Time will tell 🙂
DeliaMarch 22, 2018 at 1:39 pm
Oh my gosh. This is brilliant! Thank you for sharing!
BonnieMarch 22, 2018 at 1:58 pm
You’re welcome, Delia!
SaintMarch 24, 2018 at 1:23 pm
I ordered my alligator clip leads from your link and they don’t appear to be the same that you used, did you modify them? LOL I’m a bit tech challenged.
BonnieMarch 26, 2018 at 3:18 pm
No, I actually had some already hanging out in my garage so I just linked to some other ones on amazon. But any alligator clip electrical leads will work! There’s nothing fancy about the ones I used.
IreneMarch 25, 2018 at 9:51 pm
So maybe I’m weird, but my first thought when I saw this: “what a great idea for a science project that would be useful item when you’re done!” Maybe try etching with different ratios of salt water, or different metals…
BonnieMarch 26, 2018 at 3:19 pm
Yes totally, Irene! It definitely was a fun chemistry conversation for me and my kids!
Carlos HaunJanuary 16, 2019 at 9:08 am
I don’t have a Cricut, but couldn’t I use clear or other Contact paper? You know, that sticky shelf-liner stuff? I would like to make these for the bathrooms! Was there a link for the cups & alligator clips?
BonnieJanuary 16, 2019 at 1:49 pm
Yeah you totally could! I just recommend tracing a letter or name on the contact paper first and then carefully cutting it out with an X-acto knife. There’s a link for the cups and clips in this post…just click on the blue underlined words in the list of supplies. 🙂 Good luck!
Etching Stainless Steel: A Step by Step How-ToOctober 1, 2019 at 10:36 am
[…] I have done lots of glass and slate etching using glass etching cream, but through my research I found that it will not work for etching stainless steel. That said, I set out to find a method that would work on stainless steel. Over and over again I came across a method using salt, water and a 9 volt battery. There are a few variations in terms of the salt to water ratio but ultimately I decided on using the instructions I found by Bonnie over at Bonnie and Blythe. […]
BeckeyDecember 20, 2020 at 11:40 am
Will this work on glass too?
BonnieDecember 20, 2020 at 4:06 pm
You can etch glass but not with this method. You can buy glass etching cream from a craft store. Super easy!