Cleaning/removing tarnish from brass/bronze/copper.
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Joined: January 20, 2012
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Cleaning/removing tarnish from brass/bronze/copper.
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Posted on Tue Nov 03, 2015 4:03 am
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So I make chains for people in SCA and Dag. I work with brass, bronze, and copper a lot. I've read all the cleaning articles and searching online and most methods for cleaning provide "meh" results or didn't work well for all the nooks and crannies that come with maille jewelry.
The best thing I've found is mixing flour, vinegar and salt. This works pretty well, but leaves blackish stains that are very hard to remove.
Does anyone have some superior method or advice for something I can purchase?


Also my method might be wrong to start with. I wash the items with dish soap, apply the previously mentioned mixture, let it sit for 15-30 minutes, wash it off, brush it with a toothbrush and soapy water, wipe it off with a towel, wipe it alot more with a polishing cloth and then store in plastic ziploc bags.


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Posted on Tue Nov 03, 2015 6:01 am
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You may want to resort to chemistry as in those anti-tarnish soak baths I think you can still find, for silver.

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Posted on Tue Nov 03, 2015 6:39 am
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Brass, bronze, and copper are easily cleaned and brightened by putting it in a jar with some lemon juice concentrate and a good shaking to clean it. Make sure you rinse it off very well with water. It would also be very good to rinse it with water and baking soda to bring it back to a neutral acidic/alkaline state. Then dry it very well. This will brighten it for a short time. Then moisture will tarnish the brass, bronze, or copper. The moisture might be from humidity, sweat, water... but they will all tarnish over time. I personally like the look of tarnished brass, bronze, and copper. I consider it a positive rather than a negative. You have to educate your customers. If they want their jewelry to stay shiny... they need to invest in materials that don't tarnish as much. That costs more money... for a reason.


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Posted on Tue Nov 03, 2015 3:32 pm
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In my experience, lemon juice does a perfect job cleaning copper.

However, it falters slightly with bronze at least. While the metal will certainly come out much cleaner, it doesn't go back to its initial 'perfect' look.


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Posted on Sat Nov 07, 2015 5:22 pm
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My favourite method of de-tarnishing copper, brass and bronze is boiling water + citric acid powder. You can get the citric acid from the baking section of a supermarket. I like it because it keeps well and doesn't stink like vinegar. I put the items in a pyrex jug, pour in boiling water enough to cover them, sprinkle on the citric acid (about a teaspoon or less), stir until the powder dissolves, and leave for five minutes. No scrubbing necessary. Then I pour off the liquid, rinse in hot water, and either wrap in a towel to dry, or dry with a hairdryer if I'm impatient.


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Posted on Sat Nov 07, 2015 11:22 pm
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Ketchup

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Posted on Sun Nov 08, 2015 1:55 am
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The main consistent ingredient in all these cleaning methods is using something acidic. Ketchup is a bit too gooey and messy for me, but if that's all you have... Razz Just make sure you rinse off the acidic cleaner very well. If you don't, it can cause pitting of the metal and make it unattractive.


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Posted on Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:21 pm
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I've had some success with using dilute Hydrochloric acid - you can get it as a drain cleaner. Just make sure to dilute it right down and oil the metal with 3-in-1 oil when it's still wet to get a barrier on before the air can get to it properly.

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Posted on Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:10 pm
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JosKarith wrote:
I've had some success with using dilute Hydrochloric acid - you can get it as a drain cleaner. Just make sure to dilute it right down and oil the metal with 3-in-1 oil when it's still wet to get a barrier on before the air can get to it properly.

I would start with less acidic and corrosive solutions first. At least if the lemon juice, vinegar, or ketchup doesn't work you can dump it down the sink. The US EPA lists hydrochloric acid as a "toxic substance". Getting a little lemon juice in your eyes hurts. I don't really want to find out what happens when you dilute hydrochloric acid, make a mistake, and aren't wearing gloves, eye-protection, and protective clothing.

I'm not picking on you JosKarith, I just feel it's necessary to mention safety. Smile


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Posted on Fri Nov 27, 2015 8:42 pm
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lorraine wrote:
Brass, bronze, and copper are easily cleaned and brightened by putting it in a jar with some lemon juice concentrate and a good shaking to clean it. Make sure you rinse it off very well with water. It would also be very good to rinse it with water and baking soda to bring it back to a neutral acidic/alkaline state. Then dry it very well. This will brighten it for a short time. Then moisture will tarnish the brass, bronze, or copper. The moisture might be from humidity, sweat, water... but they will all tarnish over time. I personally like the look of tarnished brass, bronze, and copper. I consider it a positive rather than a negative. You have to educate your customers. If they want their jewelry to stay shiny... they need to invest in materials that don't tarnish as much. That costs more money... for a reason.


I have found the same as Lorraine. Neat Lemon Juice. Best job ever on cleaning Copper, Bronze and Brass!!

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Posted on Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:00 pm
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Ketch-up and vinegar mixed together also works great for cleaning brass.


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Posted on Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:10 am
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The easiest way of cleaning brass is to mix several drops of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Use an old tooth brush to clean the chain. The result comes in few seconds.
As for lemon juice, the concentrate is not needed. Just drops of juice squeezed out of a lemon from your fridge are enough.
This method also works with copper, but for copper there is an easier method with lemon acid.
I used it many times with TRL's brass (and sometimes with copper), and never had blackish stains.

I know the topic is very old, but if someone is interested, I can post pics of the process.

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Posted on Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:00 am
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Dipping in Coca-Cola (phosphoric acid) gives some results too.

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