Compositions, devices and processes related to etching of a very thin layer or fine particles of a metal are disclosed for monitoring a variety of parameters, such as time, temperature, time-temperature, thawing, freezing, microwave, humidity, ionizing radiation, sterilization and chemicals. These devices have capabilities of producing a long and sharp induction period of an irreversible visual change. The devices are composed of an indicator comprising a very thin layer of a metal and an activator, e.g., a reactant, such as water, water vapor, an acid, a base, oxidizing agent or their precursors, which is capable of reacting with the said indicator. Ink formulations composed of a metal powder and a proper activator can be used for monitoring several sterilization processes, such as sterilization with steam. When water is used as an activator, a thin layer of metals, such as that of aluminum can be used as steam sterilization or humidity indicator.