Antiquing Brass With Vinegar


Brass is an alloy made with a mixture of copper and zinc. The proportions can be altered to give a variety of finishes. Brass is a versatile metal used for making items where low friction is required, decorations and musical instruments, such as bells. It can be highly polished and was used in ancient times for mirrors. Highly polished brass was in vogue years ago, but now an antiqued look is preferred. Polished brass can easily be made to look elegantly antique with a simple technique using vinegar.

Things You'll Need

  • Brass item to be antiqued
  • Cotton rags
  • Acetone
  • White vinegar
  • Small brush
  • Warm soapy water
  • Spray brass lacquer (optional)
  • Clean the brass item thoroughly and remove all particles of dust from it.

  • Take a piece of cloth and soak it in acetone. Rub it firmly all over the brass item to remove any protective varnish that may have been used by the manufacturer. Make sure the acetone is completely removed. This is important for the antiquing process to be successful.

  • Wash the item in the warm soapy water and wipe it dry. Make sure there are no smears left on it.

  • Examine the brass item and decide whether you want a consistent patina all over or if you want it to be variegated.

  • Pour the white vinegar into a bowl and use the brush to apply the vinegar to the areas that you want to oxidize. For best results, the brass item should be slightly warmed, either by placing it for a few minutes in a slightly warm oven or leaving it in the sun for a short period.

  • Let the vinegar dry between applications. Reapply the vinegar until you have achieved the desired color.

  • Wipe the brass item with a damp cloth to get rid of the smell of vinegar and let it dry.

  • Using a clean cloth, gently polish the brass item. After antiquing, either let the aging process continue or seal the finish with a thin coat of spray lacquer as per instructions on the spray can.

Tips & Warnings

  • If preferred, use a thin coat of beeswax or a prepared paste wax, like Renaissance Wax or Johnson Wax, instead of the spray lacquer.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area and keep the acetone away from flames.

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