If you’re a seller with brass items on the shelf, or if you are an artisan working with this metal for your creations, it’s ideal that you know how to clean it properly. While brass is very beautiful and versatile, it still needs to be well maintained in order to keep its appearance. Otherwise, it’s going to look old and worn, and may lose its aesthetic appeal.
You can’t just use any regular cleaning materials for it, though. You first should know what is it about brass that makes it change its color and appearance so that you can use the appropriate materials and apply the proper method for handling it.
Brass is an alloy that is composed of roughly 70% copper and 30 zinc. It is very strong and durable, but at the same time is very malleable and versatile. It can be shaped easily under heat, and can be bent with force.
Because of its composition, brass is prone to getting tarnished on the surface, which is a pretty common occurrence for metals in general, including copper, silver, and aluminum. Tarnish is technically a thin layer of corrosion that may result as a reaction upon contact with oxygen. That is why brass products require a coating of varnish for protection; otherwise it’s going to become oxidized and lose its shiny appearance, instead looking dull and old.
There are, of course, those people who would prefer their brass items to look old and dull. It gives off that rustic and vintage appeal that collectors love. Some even go to great lengths to deliberately produce tarnish on their brass items. If you would like to have the same effect for your products, you need to keep the items clean and dry. This can help facilitate the process of safe corrosion.
If you do this properly, you can get a reddish stain color, and sometimes, even green to blue or black to brown. Make sure to keep a keen eye out on the color of the developing stain. Don’t worry if it starts to develop black or brown stains, because this is what naturally develops with oxidation, and is absolutely safe and non-destructive.
The same goes for the green color, just as long as it does not develop moss-like flakes. If you do spot some of this green powder, then better act quickly because this is called the “bronze disease.” This is the active kind of corrosion and it can spread quickly throughout the surface. This is caused by the presence of salts in the air or harsh chemical ingredients in cleaning agents. Couple that with high humidity, dust and grime, and even high levels of ammonia and you’ve got yourself a real brass problem.
Your goal is to have the brass items on your shelf looking good so that clients will be interested to buy one and put it on proud display as they should. The first thing you should do, therefore, to properly clean brass is to assess the kind of tarnish that it has. Is it the safe kind of corrosion or is it the active type that is destructive to the material?
To clean safe tarnish, you only need hot, soapy water to wash it down. Use only a soft cleaning cloth, otherwise the surface may get scuffed and scratched. You can use a soft-bristle brush for hard-to-reach crevices, such as in jar handles or other curved sections in fixtures. The combination of hot water with soap should easily dislodge the dirt and grime of it. Rinse with warm water and wipe down to dry fully.
There are also various natural ingredients easily found in the kitchen that you can use for cleaning brass. Lemon, for one, not only takes out dirt effectively, but also makes the brass shiny. One other surprising kitchen hack you can do is to use tomato juice, even ketchup. You might want to use this for your personal brass items though, instead of the ones you’ll be selling in your store or else your clients might wonder how come their brass purchase smells like ketchup.
With these tips, you can expect to see more brass sales for your own creations. Just make sure that you also create your products with good quality brass materials from reputable suppliers like Rotax Metals.
How to Clean Brass. HouseCleaningCentral.com.
How to Clean Brass. DIYNetwork.com.