General Instructions

Whether you are touching up the barrel of your favorite shotgun or bluing an entire motorcycle frame, the following is a basic guideline to help ensure the best possible results.



Safety First:

Properly protect skin when using Van's Instant Gun Blue.  As with all chemicals, skin and eyes should be protected from potential exposure. 

Preparing the Steel:

Steel should be in "finished condition" before bluing.  This means smoothing out any pits, scratches or rust to your satisfaction.  Bluing will not cover-up imperfections in the steel so taking time to properly prep your project is often the most important step. For this process, using the least abrasive method necessary is always best. Steel wool and very fine sandpaper (600 - 1500 grit) are often preferred.  Chemical methods for stripping steel can also be used. Pink Naval Jelly or simple white vinegar can be very effective methods of cleaning steel.

Degreasing and Cleaning:

Next, the steel must be degreased.  Oils will block uniform penetration so they must be removed completely.  Degrease using the methods and materials you believe will work best for the steel you are bluing.  Acetone, denatured alcohol, and brake parts cleaner are effective chemicals for removing both synthetic and natural oils. One product that we particularly like is OLD DEVIL Degreaser which is manufactured by our gun care partners at Frontier Products Company. You can find this degreaser at:

Heat Helps:

The bluing process is often accelerated and intesified with the use of heat. On a molecular level, heat gets things moving! All things become more pliable and receptive to change when they are heated.  This science can be applied to bluing steel as well.  Warm steel will take bluing faster and often deeper than cold steel.  It's important to note that extreme heat is not necessary, and should not be used unless by a trained metal artisan or blacksmith.  Heating steel with a hair dryer or heat gun is sufficient to get all the desired benefits.  Heated steel should not be so hot that in can't be handled.  If using a heat gun be mindful of non-metallic parts that could be damaged by heat such as wood, plastics and resins.  Never heat Van's Gun Blue.  Heating the bluing itself could create vapor that may be harmful to breathe.  Only heat the steel being blued.


Pour bluing intended for the project into a separate non-metalic container to prevent contamination with the unused portion.  Apply Van's Instant Gun Blue with a clean cloth.  Old, white, 100% cotton T-shirts cut into small squares work great for application as do unused soft bristle tooth brushes, as they are relatively free from other chemicals.  Cotton balls, cotton swabs, and gun patches contain oils and are not recommended.  When applying Van's, work in small 2-3 inch sections wiping fresh Van's continuously over the area until the desired color is reached. Continue this process while blending with the previously blued sections. Dipping: If you decide to dip your project, create a non-metalic container that is just big enough for your project as this will minimize the amount of bluing needed.  For example, a capped piece of PVC is often perfect for bluing barrels (see photo).  


Tech Tip: Test your container with plain water. Doing a practice run with water will show you exactly how much Van's will be required for the job and also gives you a chance to perfect your technique.

Polish and Protect:

When application is complete, the piece should be dried thoroughly.  This can be done with a clean cloth or with direct heat from a hairdryer or heat gun. At this point in the process the finish will appear very dull. Next, buff the steel with #0000 steel wool. This will bring a luster to the blued area and further blend the blued project.  When the desired finish is attained, it is important to stop the oxidation process. Van's can be neutralized with water or oil depending on the project being blued.  Once neutralized, the blued piece should be treated and protected like any raw steel. Firearms are most often protected with quality gun oil or gun wax while other metal projects may call for a lacquer or clear coat. 

For protecting your firearm, Frontier Products Formula 15 Gunwax is an excellent choice! Find Formula 15 Gunwax at:

Formula 15 Gunwax $4.00

Formula 15 Gunwax $4.00