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Case hardening compound receipe

Raul McCai

Feb 28, 2013
North East
I'm interested in trying case hardening but cannot get Kasenit or Cherry Red or any other specific case hardening compound (living overseas).

In a how-to I found this receipe:

13 parts hardwood charcoal (barbecue charcoal)
3 parts barium carbonate
2 parts sodium carbonate
1 part calcium carbonate

It does not mention if parts are measured by volume or by weight but at least these are all fairly easy to obtain substances. However said document described this mixture for use as a pack carburizing compound, they packed the pieces to be hardenend and this mixture in a box and heated it for several hours.

For convenience I would rather use the torch method; use a torch to heat the part to cherry red color and then dip it in the compound. Is this mixture suitable for this method also or is it not worth bothering?


This is an old thread but this information is really needed.
Kasenit once made in Mahwah NJ had only one active ingredient
That's it
Kasenit was able to penetrate 0.02" into mild steel.
Cynading is the best deepest and most readily do-able casehardening process ever available to the person who lacked a major industrial heat treat facility (AKA machine shops and hobbyists)
There is no other ingredient listed in the MSDS
You can buy POTASSIUM FERROCYANIDE from any chem supply.
Here is a page with Kasenite instructions
All the "Formula" that I've seen on the web are all little other than efforts at Carburizing which is woefully inferior to Cyaniding.

I have used Kasenit. It's as easy as they say, Heat the item with a torch cherry red, dip it in the can move it around a little and quench, repeat if desired. or bury it in the stuff and toss it in an oven for a while at 1650 and then quench.
I've seen the trihydrate of potassium ferrocyanide on ebay, but it's not the same thing. You can see from the below linear molecular formula: Thing is, I haven't a clue if they will do the same job.
I am buying some of the cheaper Trihydrate stuff to try out.
Potassium ferrocyanide trihyrate C6H6FeK4N6O3
Potassium ferrocyanide K4Fe(13CN)6 · 3H2O
CN is the cynaide
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Cast Iron
Dec 8, 2012
St. Louis, MO
Potassium ferrocyanide trihyrate C6H6FeK4N6O3
Potassium ferrocyanide K4Fe(13CN)6 · 3H2O
CN is the cynaide

Those are the same thing, just empirical formula v. molecular formula. The "·3H2O" is "trihydrate". It is commonly refereed to as "water of crystallization" and can be driven off by heating.


Jun 28, 2012
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
A 2012 thread...

I'm not going to read all the posts but homemade bellows can help make steel cherry red...even melt it.

Just a big box frame with a footstep and a couple of plastic tarps makes the one-man operation bellows.


Dec 21, 2012
Brisbane Qld Australia
Find a electric leaf blower for $30 at the discount store,or even on street cleanup throwout........Incidentally,what Ive seen of the powders is 002 hardness......020 is about a 3 hr cook in bone char and barium carbonate


Jan 13, 2009
Central West Missouri
The frontiersmen and pioneers using flintlock rifles would caseharden frizzens (and likely sears) overnight in the campfire, especially hot embers. Sufficient carbon in the surfaces assures sparks as the flint swings over it. The trigger set would also benefit having durable engagement.
They packed broken up bone material and leather bits around parts and sealed in a thickened mud clump. A few descriptions include ground flour.


Jun 1, 2004
color case hardened why ? to make the surface of soft metal hard . ok but with the metals of today for the most part we have moved past

that .color case hardened why ? for the most part to restore the colors to a worn receiver or frame or to color something new . the

stress of case hardening on every thing can be stressful will it survive without cracking warping will the owner have a hart attack this

is what i think about it as far as what is happening to the part being done its like kicking someone off the roof of a house and then

running down and asking them as your helping them up off the ground hey are you all right .