Find the Perfect Glass Etching Cream for Your Project

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Glass etching cream allows you to permanently frost or etch designs into glass surfaces like windows, mirrors, and glassware. This fun DIY project has grown in popularity thanks to the many glass etching cream products available to hobbyists and crafters.

But with so many options on the market, how do you choose the right etching cream for your needs? In this guide, we’ll review the top 5 best glass etching creams and provide tips on how to select the ideal product based on your project. Whether you’re a beginner etched or an experienced enthusiast, you’ll learn everything needed to feel confident working with these etching compounds.

An Introduction to Glass Etching Cream

Glass etching cream, also called glass frosting cream, works almost like a corrosive acid that permanently etches or frosts designs into glass. Most products contain powerful chemicals like fluoride, ammonium bifluoride, or sodium bifluoride that react with the glass to create a matte, frosted look.

When applied, the cream “eats away” the smooth glass surface. So when you wipe away the cream, your design is left with a nice white frosted appearance vs the surrounding clear glass. This enables you to create custom frosted designs on mirrors, glassware, vases, tabletops, and more.

Glass etching cream is often used by hobby crafters and DIYers for decorating glassware or personalizing mirrors and tiles. The finish retains a frosted look even when the glass gets wet. So etched bathroom mirrors won’t fog up!

Overall it provides an easy, permanent way to add custom designs to glass surfaces. But choosing the right cream for your project is important…

Top 5 Glass Etching Creams

There are lots of etching cream options out there from general craft brands to specialty glass etching companies. Here are 5 of the best selling and top rated glass etching creams to consider for your project:

1. Armour Etch Glass Etching Cream

Armour Etch Cream is one of the most popular glass etching products overall. The creamy paste formula is easy to apply and safe for most glass surfaces. It’s commonly found at craft stores which makes it very accessible for hobbyists.


  • Widely available at craft/hardware stores
  • Easy to apply creamy formula
  • Creates detailed frosted designs
  • Can etch glass, mirrors, tiles, lapidary gems, and more


  • Contains ammonium bifluoride so requires safety precautions
  • Not as thick as some specialized etching creams

Overall Armour Etch is ideal for beginners wanting to tackle small-scale etching projects. The versatility across materials like glass, mirrored glass, and slate also makes it a solid choice for most applications.

2. Glass Etch Cream by Marabu

Marabu’s Glass Etch Cream provides a thick, smooth formula designed to achieve professional etching results. As a leading brand for art supplies and glass crafts, their cream is a bit pricier but provides quality effects.


  • Thick, creamy formula etches smoothly
  • Creates crisp, clean frosted lines
  • Ideal for large surfaces like mirrors or table tops
  • Produces professional results


  • More expensive than basic etching creams
  • Needs to sit sealed for longer etching times

Marabu’s specialized etching cream is ideal if looking for premium results on large surfaces. The thick formula almost has a paint-like consistency that etches bold frosted designs.

3. Whink Rust Remover and Glass Etchant

Whink Rust Remover is a heavy-duty liquid formula made for removing rust stains from various materials. But it also works as a powerful glass etchant!


  • Heavy-duty formula etches quickly
  • Very affordable and easy to find
  • Can etch wide range of materials


  • Thin, watery consistency
  • Strong chemical odor
  • Not suitable for fine detailed etching

The intense etching power of Whink makes it ideal for etching large glass surfaces quickly. It can frost a full mirror or tabletop with a single application. Just don’t expect refined results – this is more like an etching power wash!

4. Etchall Glass Etching Cream

Etchall Glass Etching Cream provides a reasonably-priced option compared to basic Armour Etch. While the cream is not as thick, it still produces quality etching results.


  • Very budget-friendly price
  • Easy to apply through stencils
  • Suitable for etching drinking glasses


  • Requires multiple applications for dark frosting
  • Not capable of very intricate details

Overall this is a great starter etching cream if you just want to add simple frosted designs to glassware. Multiple coats can achieve a nice frosted finish. Just don’t expect the precision of more advanced etching compounds.

5. Silhouette Glass Etching Cream

Silhouette Glass Etching Cream is a newer specialty formula designed specifically for portrait etching. The thick, rich cream adheres well for transferring detailed images.


  • Designed specifically for portraits and detailed designs
  • Thick, textured formula adheres nicely
  • Produces a dark frosted finish


  • Highly specialized usage
  • Not as readily available

This portrait etching cream is formulated to transfer highly detailed designs like pet portraits, landscapes, and more onto glass. The uniquely thick, gritty texture allows it to stick nicely for precision etching.

How to Choose the Right Glass Etching Cream

With so many etching creams available, it can be hard to know which is right for your project. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting an etching product:

Glass Surface Material

  • What type of glass will you be etching – plain glass, mirrors, tempered glass?
  • Some creams may react differently depending on the glass composition. Always test first.

Etching Area Size

  • Will you be etching a detailed design or large surface area?
  • Thick specialized creams are better for large surfaces like full mirrors.
  • But basic creams work for smaller detailed designs.

Desired Effects

  • Do you want dark portrait etching or a subtle frosted look?
  • Specialty creams tailor to specific etching effects.

Safety Precautions

  • Research the chemicals used and take necessary precautions.
  • Most creams require rubber gloves and ventilation at minimum.


  • Basic etching creams provide an affordable starting point.
  • But specialized creams will offer greater precision and effects.

Also consider the application process – some thick creams may be harder to spread smoothly. Testing different creams on glass samples is recommended to get a feel for the consistency and etching results before tackling a full project.

Here are some recommendations based on your needs:

  • For beginners, start with Armour Etch or Etchall to get comfortable with the process.
  • For detailed designs, use thicker specialized creams like Marabu or Silhouette.
  • To etch large surfaces, choose powerful formulas like Whink or Marabu.
  • If on a budget, Etchall provides a quality option at a low price point.
  • For portrait etching, use a specialized portrait cream like Silhouette for the best detail.

Frequently Asked Questions About Glass Etching Cream

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about working with glass etching cream:

What types of glass can be etched?

Glass etching cream works on most standard glass types including soda-lime silicate glass like drinkware, tempered glass like phone screens, and glass mirrors. Not recommended for use directly on automobile glass. Always test first.

How long does etching glass take?

Etching times vary based on the cream used and desired etching depth. Most projects require letting the cream sit 15-30 mins for lighter etching up to overnight for deeper etching and portraits. Thicker creams tend to have shorter etch times.

What designs should beginners start with?

Beginners should start with basic shapes, letters, and silhouettes rather than intricate designs. Tracing stencils is an easy way to create designs as a beginner.

How do I apply cream evenly, especially for portraits?

Using foam applicators or brayers ensures smooth, even application – especially for portraits. Applying a very thin initial layer to the entire etching area first can help.

What tools help create cleaner etching outlines?

Vinyl decals and stencils with attached transfer tape provide the crispest etching outlines. Avoid freehand drawing the cream for clean results.

How do I seal/finish etched glass?

Most etched glass just needs a basic soap and water wash. Drinking glasses should be sealed with a food-safe sealer. Other pieces can be sealed with clear sprays or epoxy resin for added protection.

Is etched glass permanent?

Yes, etched glass designs are permanent frosty changes to the surface. No way to undo etching, so be sure of your design first!

What safety precautions should I take when etching?

Work in a well-ventilated area, wear gloves, and wash hands after use. Ceramic dust masks, eye shields, and long sleeves help minimize exposure.

Can I etch over an area that’s already been etched?

Yes, you can etch over an area multiple times to create darker frosting. Just make sure any prior cream is fully cleaned off first.

How should I dispose of or store leftover etching cream?

Tightly seal containers and store in a safe locked cabinet away from children and pets. Dispose of etching cream properly per your local regulations. Never pour down drains.

Get Creative with DIY Glass Etching!

Glass etching is an artistic way to make glassware, mirrors, and other surfaces uniquely your own. With so many etching creams available, focus on choosing a product fit for your project goals and skill level.

Armour Etch and Marabu provide excellent starting points with their versatility and quality results. Specialty creams like Silhouette cater to specific creative effects like portraits. And value-focused creams like Etchall allow beginners to get etching on a budget.

Whichever cream you choose, take the proper safety precautions and enjoy unleashing your creativity on glass! With the right etching cream and a bit of practice, you’ll be amazed at the custom frosted art you can craft.

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