How to Age Pewter

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Pewter is a popular material for household wares such as candle holders and wine goblets.
Pewter is a popular material for household wares such as candle holders and wine goblets. (Image: PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Pewter is a brilliant metal consisting mostly of tin. Because it is generally malleable and flexible, it can be fashioned into a wide range of wares including goblets, dishes and utensils. New pewter tends to possess a shiny luster, and this quality is what attracts so many to it for decorative purposes. However, aged pewter can attain a gorgeous oxidized outer later called a "patina" that gives it a truly antiquated look -- here is now to attain it without waiting for years on end.

Things You'll Need

  • Thick rubber gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • Half liter of distilled water
  • 3 grams of ammonium chloride
  • 12 grams of copper acetate
  • 20 grams of vinegar
  • pH measuring strips
  • Nitric acid
  • Paintbrush (optional)
  • Towel

Put on your rubber gloves and safety goggles before handling any of the mentioned chemicals.

Pour half a liter of cool distilled water into a large mixing bowl.

Add ammonium chloride, copper acetate and vinegar to the bowl one at a time. Pour slowly and carefully.

Measure the pH of the mixture in the bowl with a pH strip. Take note of this measurement.

Slowly pour a small amount of nitric acid into the mixture, stirring as you do so. Measure the pH intermittently until the mixture has a pH measurement of 1 (very acidic).

Submerge your piece of pewter into the bowl, ensuring that all parts are coated with the liquid. Alternatively, the mixture can be applied with a paintbrush or sponge.

Place the pewter piece on a towel in a well-ventilated area to air-dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • The ingredients above will give your pewter a rich bronze patina. For a dark grey or black patina, use 8 ounces of iron chloride mixed with 1 liter of ice-cold water.
  • Results are permanent, so make sure that you really wish to age the piece of pewter you select.
  • Working with highly acidic chemicals can be dangerous. Abide by proper handling techniques described on chemical containers.

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