Anodizing titanium is a process that adjusts the level of the oxide layer on the metals surface. This adjustment causes light to refract and changes the spectrum of light, resulting in perceived color. By precisely controlling the surface oxide level, an entire range of colors can be produced. Anodizing titanium is not a color coating, nor does it use dyes. The oxide layer on titanium grows naturally at room temperature. Anodizing causes this oxide layer to grow further than it would naturally, producing thicker layers of oxide. As the layer thickens, it begins to interrupt the light waves as they pass through and reflect off the metal surface. This interference creates color. Since the thickness of the oxide controls the color that is produced, and since anodizing controls the thickness, the color produced in a given titanium piece becomes controllable through the anodizing process.
2. Is it safe to use?
It is equally as safe as titanium which has not been anodized. The colors that you see are the colors the titanium oxide layer is capable of producing. They are the same colors your nail cycles through when you first torch it. Anodizing is common on everything from bike parts to cookware. Though note that the process of anodizing Aluminum involves a dye, whereas titanium anodizing does not.
3. Can too much heat ruin it?
Yes. Direct heat from an open flame can change the color. This is part of what gives your piece an authentic lived-in quality.
4. Can you use ISO (rubbing alcohol) to clean it?
Yes. In fact, the process that creates the illusion of color is so precise that your finger oils will make the colors begin to appear to lose their brilliance. This color can be restored by a gentle wipe with a cloth soaked in isopropyl alcohol.
5. How do I properly care for it?
Understand that the color is created by us controlling the precise thickness of the oxide layer on the outside of the titanium. Protecting this oxide layer will protect the design for years to come. Having a spot for it in your case will preserve the color more so than carrying it in your pocket. Try to store it in places where it will avoid any frictional contact that could damage the outer oxide layer.
6. How is it done?
We use a direct current power supply with one end of the electric current attached to an anode and the other end of the current hooked up to the titanium being anodized. The piece is immersed in an electrolyte solution and a voltage is placed across the piece. The oxygen in the water solution reacts with the surface of the titanium and grows to a precise thickness depending on the voltage traveling through the direct current. By controlling the voltage traveling through the electrolyte solution, we can control what thickness the layer grows too and thus control what color is obtained as an end result.