The Detroit Post
Monday, 25 October, 2021

How To Rust Brass

James Lee
• Friday, 18 December, 2020
• 9 min read

While some of us fret and fuss over how to prevent rust from forming on our precious metal door knobs and decor, some appreciate the aged look of antique brass hardware. So when the patinate brass style becomes more appealing than the shiny, gold-like surface, you don’t want to wait around for the metal to naturally age.

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For most procedures, you will need a container big enough to hold the brass item and plenty of space to prevent discoloration on your carpets and furniture. This DIY mixture is one of the best ways to age brass and achieve that verdigris appearance, or greenish-blue color.

Start by heating the oven to 450 °F and laying aluminum foil over a cooking sheet that is large enough to hold your brass item. First, soak the brass in a mixture of cider vinegar and table salt in a plastic container for about an hour.

Afterward, let it air dry on a soft cloth, and finish with a clear coat of lacquer. A second alternative to darken brass is to use white vinegar, salt, and hydrogen peroxide.

Coat your brass object with white vinegar, then let it sit for about two hours or until dry. Once your brass looks the way you want it to, rinse the object under the faucet using warm water.

To use ammonia, fill a container large enough to hold your brass item on a layer of paper towels. Leave plenty of room for a second layer of paper towels and your brass item to fit into the sealed container.

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Soak the bottom layer of paper towels in ammonia and evenly sprinkle salt over the top. Next, add a second layer of paper towels over the top of the brass item.

The time frame for how long to leave your brass varies by your preference for tarnishing. Google Shopping and Amazon offer a variety of brass ages on their sites with reviews to help you find the product that works best for you, though the most common one is called Brass Age.” As with other strong chemicals, use goggles and gloves for protection when handling.

Once you finish, rinse the brass fixture with hot water and dry before lacquering. Add color either with a paint brush or by using a washcloth, but don’t cover the surface completely.

Before making your antique- brass fixtures tarnished, you want to properly clean them and remove any lacquer from the surface. To clean brass, use mild dish soap and warm water to clear away any excess oil or dirt.

Another aspect of preparing your brass piece is to ensure any lacquered coating is stripped from the object. Even if the methods don’t call for gloves and goggles, avoid getting any flecks of chipped brass in your eyes or pricking your fingers on the rough edges.

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This brass finish or sealant will also prevent any harmful chemicals from being passed from the tarnished piece to anyone who handles it. If you only want a little of tarnish on your brass object, or maybe a heavy, robust patina, it’s left entirely up to your imagination.

If you did, don’t forget to share these nifty tips for how to tarnish brass with friends and family on Facebook and Pinterest. Brass is commonly used in the production of things such as musical instruments, mechanical tools, and decor.

It’s a popular choice for many reasons, from the range of colors it comes in, to the aesthetically pleasing look and feel it possesses. Depending on the amount of each element found within each individual piece of brass, it can either have a more positive or negative effect on the material.

Corrosion is the gradual breakdown of metals through a chemical reaction that is caused due to the environment the material is subjected to. While rusting can’t occur on metals that don’t hold iron, they are still at risk of corroding when they come into contact with certain elements, such as oxygen and water.

This, in turn, can change the color of brass and form reddish or pink splotches on the surface. Thankfully, there are many ways to treat corroded brass, whether you choose to purchase a household cleaner or create your own DIY tarnish remover.

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While corrosion is likely to occur on surfaces like brass when it comes into contact with water, below, we’ll explore how oxygen can cause oxidation. For one, while the oxidation process might have a poor effect on the overall appearance of brass, it does build a protective coating around the material that helps cease further corrosion.

Yet, oxidation can also be extremely dangerous, as it also breaks down and destroys the amount of zinc stored with the material. Zinc is responsible for the strength that brass holds, so when brass is responsible for things such as holding together a pipe, a bolt, or serves as any type of connective function, this can definitely be problematic when zinc begins to break down due to oxidation.

The signs that oxidation has occurred on brass are obvious, as the surface usually becomes black, green, and or blue. Each element found with brass helps aid the material in terms of strength, durability, and other positive attributes.

While bacteria are less likely to form on copper-based materials, this allows brass to be an ideal candidate when it comes to the creation of medical equipment and indoor fixtures, such as doorknobs. For one, it improves the machinability of brass, making it easier to manufacture goods and items on a large scale.

Lead can even provide pressure tightness by sealing the shrinkage pores when it comes to architectural hardware. This, in turn, causes oxidation and corrosion to begin and how that affects brass long term.

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Lastly, we went over the materials you’ll find within brass, which include copper, zinc, and sometimes lead. We discussed how each of these elements aids in the strength, durability, machinability, and corrosion resistance of brass.

From hidden plumbing elements to shiny brass candlesticks, it enhances our lives with its beauty and utility. Similar to rust, tarnish is a feature that is both loved and hated by brass lovers.

The physical and aesthetic qualities of brass have made it an essential part of human life since ancient times. Tarnish is a mild form of corrosion caused by exposure of copper to the environment.

Chemicals in rainwater, tap water and air, as well as those found on our fingers and in food, are also corrosive. If you handle a brass candlestick and put it away without wiping it free of the oil and salt from your fingers, it will turn brown rather quickly.

Likewise, exterior lanterns left exposed to the elements will tarnish faster than interior fixtures. An aged finish should not be contaminated by salts and acids -- such as found in salad dressings -- because they will remove a desirable patina.

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Plus, hydrogen peroxide and vinegar can give off a moderate level of fumes, so you’ll want to work in a well-ventilated space anyway. Lightly sand the entire surface of the metal with a fine-grit sandpaper to shed any protective coating present that might prevent the object from rusting.

Place the sanded object in the center of a plastic bin that’s rested on either hard ground or a flat work surface in the garage. As it dries, the acid of the vinegar will begin to corrode the surface of the metal and you will start to see rust appear.

Pour two cups of hydrogen peroxide, four tablespoons of white vinegar, and one-and-a-half teaspoons of table salt into a plastic spray bottle. Once the salt has dissolved, spray the solution over the object to coat it partially or completely, depending on the desired effect.

Finally, spray a thin coating of clear acrylic sealer to the dry rusted object. It will set the rust and preserve the aged appearance for years to come while providing an acrylic barrier that keeps it from inadvertently staining any other metal or wood with which it comes into contact in the future.

Disassemble the item as much as possible to make it easier to reach joints and closed spaces. Apply a small amount of paint stripper to the rag and gently rub it onto the brass object.

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The brass cleaner provides a seal to prevent future corrosion and damage to the item. Known for its soft golden color, it is an affordable alternative to gold itself, and is used to make products ranging from musical instruments to jewelry.

In the home, brass can be found in items such as lamps, hardware and decorative metal trim. Fortunately, it is simple to remove this corrosion using readily available household products.

I was upset that I couldn’t get the ones I wanted right away, but then figured, I could buy the bright brass and do a little DIY magic on them to tone them down a bit. I have also included a way to age brass so it takes on a verdigris color.

Place it next to your kitchen sink so that as soon as you start to see the finish get all gummy, you can rinse it off underwater. The “000” steel wool does not scratch the surface, it only removes some Brass Age so you can achieve the exact look you desire.

I removed just enough of the aged color to tone the brass down a bit, but not as bright as they were before. I read about using salt and vinegar, lemons and other solutions to age brass, but they do take some time and the results were not as satisfactory.

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It may take a few hours or overnight to see results, it will slowly change the brightness of the brass. Lightly sand the piece with “too” steel wool.

Soak the hot item in the vinegar solution until you are pleased with the color. I traced around the rectangular part of the pull to figure out the size I would need.

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