Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cleaning copper

I have tons of copper pieces and what I have noticed being out at the market and exposing them to the humidity and the constant handling, they tarnish very quickly.

The natural patina of copper is warm and friendly and like an old pair of jeans - comfortable, but not everyone feels the way I do.

So how do you keep your copper shiny and new? It is so easy kids.

I looked at the clock when I walked into the kitchen, it was 8:05 a.m. I went to my craft room grabbed a piece of packing paper, my camera and a tarnished pendant. Went back to the kitchen, laid these things down on the table, went to the pantry and got out the salt, to the ice box and got the lemon juice, to the cabinet and got two bowls. Filled the bowls with some warm water and set everything on the table. Took a picture 8:07 a.m.

Put about a 1/4 teaspoon salt and a cap full of lemon juice in the first bowl, and then put in the pendant. Took a picture (It is still 8:07) Watched the pendant for a second - wanted to see how fast it would change............nothing.

Walked back to my craft room, grabbed my cup of coffee, walked passed the computer and turned it on, into the kitchen and warmed up my coffee, and peeked at the pendant again.
Wow It has changed!! I took the pendant from the first bowl, and laid it in the second bowl and swished it around a sec. Took a picture. 8:09 a.m.

Pulled it out, shook out the excess water and put it in an old towel, took a picture. Patted it dry and it was like new!!

8:10 a.m. This is not the best picture

Here is a side by side view of before and after. You can see a difference in the bail for sure

5 minutes - and that was only doing one piece. I could have done all of my pieces in that one bath. It removed the tarnish from the copper but didn't dull the stones. You can also use vinegar or ketchup. I chose the lemon juice because I didn't want my pieces smelling like an Easter egg or deal with the clean up of the ketchup.

From what I understand electrical grade copper wire, comes in the same gauges, doesn't tarnish as easily as the jewelry grade. There is a coating called EverBright you can get for copper jewelry, a lacquer or varnish if you will. I haven't tried it, but it is on my list. Soon as I do, I'll let you know.

Hope this helps!!!


  1. Wow, so easy and quick, with NO hazardous liquids to deal with...that's a plus! I will remember this tip for sure. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Well that's definitely a recipe to keep. thanks Tish.

  3. I poured a bottle of lemon juice and a tablespoon of salt in an old tupperware container and keep it in the bathroom. When I want a quick clean up on a piece I just throw it in, rinse, dry and go. No need for refrigeration since you won't be using it as food. Simple, convenient and I've used it for over a year. It'll turn a bit off color but again you aren't using it as food so no problem.