How to Clean Copper and Brass without Chemicals
Copper and brass are used all over the world for making jewelry, pots, pans, and showpieces. While copper is a naturally found metal, brass is an alloy, which means that it is made up of a combination of other metals, namely copper and zinc.
Nevertheless, these two household metals have traditionally been called ‘brightwork’ by sailors, and for a good reason! These metals are supposed to be shiny. Hence if your copper or brass pieces are going a bit dull, you definitely need to give them a nice cleaning!
That’s why today, we’re gonna learn how to clean copper and brass without chemicals.
Why Do Copper and Brass Go Dull?
Let's first take a look at how our precious copper and brass utensils become dull and dirty over time.
Copper is a reactive metal. It reacts with the environment and forms a blackish tarnish, or it might even start corroding, forming a blue or green patina. The copper in brass also reacts with the environment in a similar manner, turning the brass dark.
Other than reacting with the environment, these metals also become dirty due to dust and human contact. This is why it is important to clean these metals regularly.
Why You Should Opt for Natural Methods Instead of Chemical Ones
Here are the reasons why we should avoid chemical cleaners:
Chemical cleaners contain harsh chemicals in them.
These can cause a variety of health problems, such as skin irritation, respiratory diseases if inhaled, and they may even lead to long-term health problems.
In order to be particularly careful about this, you will need to go through all the hassles of wearing protective gloves, masks, and clothing that will prevent any chemicals from getting on your skin in general.
Even if you have taken enough caution to avoid health problems, harsh chemicals are bad for the environment, as well.
Now, let us take a look at the benefits of using natural cleaners:
They do not contain any harsh chemicals.
Hence, they do not cause any health problems.
They are not bad for the environment.
Additionally, you already have a lot of products lying around the house, so there’s no need to buy them!
They are relatively inexpensive.
Now that we have looked at the benefits of using natural products to clean our metals, let’s dive into the various methods of cleaning, and the items required for each method.
How To Clean Brass and Copper and Brass
Before getting started, note that copper and brass aren’t always cleaned using the same methods. There are certain methods for both and other methods for individual metals.
Methods for Cleaning Copper Only:
These are some of the methods to clean copper:
Method 1: The Ketchup Method
Materials: Ketchup, running water, and a towel.
First, grab a bottle of ketchup. Use a cloth or apply ketchup directly to your copper piece. Apply ketchup in such a manner that the copper is covered by a layer of the ketchup.
Make sure you cover the whole surface. Otherwise, some areas may remain unclean and dull.
Let the ketchup sit untouched for about ten minutes, then rinse it off thoroughly with running water. You will notice a wonderful gleam to your now clean copper. Wipe off the water with a dry towel.
Method 2: The Worcestershire Sauce Method
Materials: Worcestershire sauce, soft cloth, water, and a dry towel.
Take a soft cloth and pour Worcestershire sauce on it. Then rub the copper with the cloth. Leave the copper for about five to ten minutes, then rinse it off with clean water. Dry the metal with a towel.
Method 3: The Tabasco Sauce or Steak Sauce Method
Materials: Tabasco or steak sauce, a soft cloth, water, and a dry towel.
Just like methods 1 and 2, you need to rub on some tabasco or steak sauce on the copper, either directly or with a soft cloth. Let it sit for ten minutes, then rinse it off with clean water. Dry with a towel.
Methods for Cleaning Both Copper and Brass:
These are some of the methods to clean copper and brass:
Method 1: The Baking Soda Method
Materials: Baking soda, white vinegar, a bowl, and a dry piece of cloth.
Take a small bowl and pour half a cup of baking soda, one cup white vinegar and two tablespoons of table salt in it.
Mix the ingredients to make a paste and apply it thickly on the surface of your copper or brass by using a soft cloth. Leave it for about ten to twenty minutes, then rinse it off with cool, clean water. Use a towel to dry.
Method 2: The Flour Method
Take a bowl and pour one tablespoon flour, one tablespoon salt, and one tablespoon vinegar. Mix the ingredients well and apply the paste thickly onto the metal surface. Leave it for about ten minutes, then rinse it off with water. Dry with a clean towel.
Method 3: The Lemon Method
Materials: Lemon, salt, vinegar, a bowl, and a dry towel.
Pour two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and one tablespoon of salt into the bowl and mix. Rub the mixture onto the metal surface until you can see it shining. You can rinse the mixture off with water, or leave it as it is. Wipe off with a dry towel.
Method 4: The Mustard Method
Materials: Yellow mustard, water, and a towel.
Use any regular yellow mustard, and rub it onto the metal surface either directly, or using a towel. Leave it for about ten minutes, then rinse it off with clean water. Dry it off with a clean towel.
Method 5: The Tamarind Paste Method
Materials: Tamarind paste, water, and a dry towel.
Apply some tamarind paste directly, or using a piece of clean cloth onto the metal surface and let it sit for about ten minutes. Rinse it off with water and dry using a clean towel.
Method for Cleaning Brass Only:
These are some of the methods to clean brass:
Method 1: The Kool-Aid Method
Materials: Any flavor of Kool-Aid, water, a bucket, and a towel.
Take a bucket and empty out one packet of Kool-Aid into it. Add two quarts of water and mix. Submerge the brass item in this mixture and leave it there for about ten minutes. Rinse it off with clean water and dry with a towel.
After deciding which method you want to use, gather the necessary materials, then you can finally get started on the cleaning process.
All of the methods mentioned above are quite easy to perform. Let's take a better look at how to perform them.
So go ahead and surprise your visitors by transforming your old brass and copper pieces into brand new ones!
Note: If you don't like those homemade methods, Then there have the top quality of Copper cleaners that you can try for quick clean.
How to Prevent Copper and Brass from Getting Dirty?
Even though it is impossible to keep your copper and brass utensils from becoming dirty eventually, it is possible to delay the process.
The best way to do this is by keeping these metals dry as much as possible, and by storing them in cool, dry places such as cupboards. If you live in a humid area, store the metals in plastic bags.
Another good way to delay tarnishing is by coating the metals using mineral oil, baby oil, or olive oil. Just lightly coat the metal surface using any of these, and reapply any time the cost wears off.
Always hand wash the metals and remember to properly dry them using a clean towel. Never put the metals in a dishwasher or let them air dry. This will speed up the tarnishing process.
How Often Should You Clean?
A good question to ask would be, 'How often should I clean my copper or brass?'. Well, it depends. How often you have to clean depends on the purpose for which your metal is being used.
In the case of cooking utensils, you can clean them when they start becoming dull or basically whenever you want them to become shiny again.
When it comes to the metal items coming into regular contact with your skin, in case of jewelry, for example, it is best to clean them regularly before the metals become tarnished.
At the end of the day, it is important to use your new-found-knowledge, and what better way to do it than to see your dull metals become shiny and give off the best gleam?