Black Oxide, blackening, oxidizing, oxiding, black passivating, gun bluing . . . these terms all refer to the process of forming a black iron oxide on the surface of ferrous metals.
The black oxide process is a chemical conversion coating. This means that the black oxide is not deposited on the surface of the substrate like nickel or zinc electroplating. Instead, the black oxide coating is produced by a chemical reaction between the iron on the surface of the ferrous metal and the oxidizing salts present in the black oxide solution. These oxidizing salts include penetrates, catalysts, activators and proprietary additives which all take part in the chemical reaction. The result of this chemical reaction is the formation of black iron oxide, magnetite (Fe3O4), on the surface of the metal being coated.