Date Uploaded: February 9, 2005, 9:41 am
Last Edited: August 7, 2012, 5:52 pm
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Cleaning Stainless Steel, Brass, and Copper
Article © MAIL User: Valacia
In my time of making chainmail, I have been through a lot of different methods of cleaning the rings I use when they get tarnished. Often I don't have money to buy the exspensive polishes but here are some alternatives I have heard of and the things I discovered about them.
Toothpaste: Yes, I did say toothpaste. Toothpaste was one that I had to giggle at but it certainly can be found in most homes. Not only is toothpaste good at cleaning teeth, it is rather good at cleaning brass so long as the brass doesn't have a coating on it. I did not try it on copper but it is worth a try since most things that clean brass will also clean copper.
Worchestershire Sauce: This is a tip i saw on a tv show about cleaning things in the house. I did not believe it but when I tried it, sure enough it cleaned the brass right up. Give it a try if you've got it
Lemon juice or Lime juice + Salt: There are many different methods of doing this.. one says you can put aluminum on the bottom of a container and add the juice and salt but I like to juice put the juice in a container add the salt and shake it up a lot. Both methods seem to work just fine for me on both brass and copper.
Vinegar or Vinegar and Salt: Again, the same thing as with the lemon and lime juice, there are many ways to go about using vinegar to clean brass or copper. Some use the aluminum foil the same way as with the lemon or lime juice and this way is very effective but I've heard of others doing it just fine with plain old vinegar and salt and no foil. It's your call so experiment.
Tabasco Sauce and Milk: These two I did not try for fear of looking ridiculous though I imagine the tabasco sauce would work very well but i have no idea how the milk would work. I did however, hear that other people had tried these and it worked well for them so I added it.
Everything in general can be cleaned with soap and water to get off a mild amount of dirt or tarnish just be sure to dry everything off completely when you are done so as to not promote further tarnish. If your brass or copper has a coating on it, then you can mix a little water with baking soda and salt to form a paste and that will polish it up and remove the coating. This isn't always necessary but it's sometimes a good idea.
Stainless Steel is by far most common for all maille work and is also the easiest to clean. A lot of different methods exist for cleaning stainless steel, and there are even polishes but which method is right for you is entirely up to how much time and effort youre willing to spend. For larger items I reccommend doing what so many people I know do, and thats place it either in the dishwasher or tumble it with sand. Putting it in the dishwasher may not get out everything, but it does clean rather well. Tumbling it with sand can remove near anything, including rust. You can also try the other methods mentioned for brass and copper to clean stainless though it's not guaranteed to work as well.
Why It Works
Most of the ways mentioned to clean the metals, especially brass and copper, involve chemical processes. Certain food items are acidic and will react with the tarnish to dissolve it. That is why Lemon and Lime juice work the best for copper and brass. Shaking it or rubbing it also helps increase the process or enhance it.
If you found this article helpful, or if you have any questions please feel free to E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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