How to Lift Fingerprints: Dusting For Prints

  • Published on:  10/20/2017
  • I show how to lift fingerprints by using a brush and powder. The brush I use is a zephyr fiberglass fingerprint brush and the powder is lightning powder which is a black latent fingerprint powder. Fingerprint patterns and characteristics are formed before birth. They will remain unchanged until decomposition destroys them after death, or unless the dermal layer is injured, producing a scar. Our fingers have friction ridges which are composed of rows of sweat pores, or eccrine glands, that constantly secrete perspiration. This perspiration along with grease and oil transferred from other parts of the body adheres to the friction skin and is transferred from the skin to other surfaces when contact is made with objects. The transferred outline of the friction ridges is what is known as a latent print.

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    What I used: (USA)
    - Zephyr Brush:
    - Lightning Powder:
    - Ultra Clear Tape:
    - Fingerprint Cards:

    What I used: (Canada)
    - Zephyr Brush:
    - Lightning Powder:

    Latent prints are not readily visible to the naked eye and must be developed in some way to increase their visibility and contrast. The method I show in this video is to physically enhance the latent prints by applying fingerprint powder. Fingerprint powder is composed of many different ingredients that can vary greatly depending on the formula used. Most black fingerprint powders contain rosin, black ferric oxide and lampblack. Many also contain inorganic chemicals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, copper, silicon, titanium and bismuth. Fingerprint powder is applied by brushing it onto the surface and works by mechanically adhering to the oil and moisture components of the latent print. When the powder particles adhere to the grease or moisture forming the latent prints, it causes them to become visible. The developed latent prints are then readily observable and able to be collected, preserved and examined.

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    Photos and Videos Creative Commons Attribution:
    - Printed, Not Booked, by: Alan Levine (
    - Day 106, by: Chris Costes (
    - 408779, by: ResoluteSupportMedia (
    - 100227-F-0212J-365, by: U.S. Army (
    - Solutions for Society Biometrics - Creative Commons, by: NEC Corporation of America (
    - Mirror, by: Kate Brady (
    - Hong Yuen, Archives New Zealand (
    - 7417.fingerprints, by: (
    - Victoria Saunders, by: WorldSkills UK (
    - fingerprint, by: Geoffrey Fairchild (
    - Amy Fretwell, by: WorldSkills UK (
    - Forensic Science, by: WorldSkills UK (
    - Blue Twins, by: emdees (
    - Leaving Fingerprints, by: Alexander Mueller (
    - Drink for kings, by: Jon Seidman (

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