This is what low and high grade “Titanium” looks like – know the difference! August 10, 2015 – Posted in: Stoner Education – Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How am I supposed to tell the difference between high quality titanium, and cheap knockoff metals?

You’ve undoubtedly opened this article looking for answers to that very question.

The simple answer is that with the naked eye, it can be extremely difficult to identify the quality and composition of metals. This is part of what makes graded Titanium so expensive, it’s certified and guaranteed to be of specific properties. In a lab setting there are numerous tests available to determine the composition of an alloy, with the field of science referred to as Analytical Chemistry. If you really want to get serious about identifying metals, the American Society for Testing and Materials is a good place to start.

In this and future blog posts we will be covering a series of tests one can perform at home, that will help you identify titanium metal. This includes todays video on flame testing Ti for proper oxidization and surface impurities. Further videos will include:

  • Magnet Testing
  • Electrical Anodization Analysis
  • Spark Testing
  • Density/Specific Gravity Analysis

Impurities in bad Ti nails appear as discoloured blotches on the surface after a heating and cooling process.

As an at home DIY test, one can heat suspect metals and watch the metal’s surface for specific colour shifting.  Titanium will initially discolour as it oxidizes, producing a an iridescent colour change on the surface of the metal that looks like oil on wet pavement. After heating pure titanium with a torch until red hot (for the first time), the cooled titanium metal should show a consistent gradient with no visible anomalies. Other high purity metals can also exhibit similar anodization, and so this test is a crude indicator for purity only. Other obvious indicators of low purity titanium include flaking, pitting, popping and abnormal discolouration. If your dabbing nail makes any sort of cracking or popping noise when being heated, stop immediately and allow the metal to cool – this could be a potentially dangerous situation should the nail fail due to internal stresses.

This test is by no means a scientific analysis of your test piece, but it can help you make an educated decision about something that could impact your health. Shopping with a North American company is the easiest way to avoid false advertising and scams. Need more information or still uncertain? Hit up the comments section below.