How to Clean Old Brass Fire Extinguishers

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Old brass pieces experience a problem known as tarnishing. This problem occurs when the brass oxidizes from exposure to the air. The process turns the brass from bright and shiny to dark and dull. Antique brass fire extinguishers lose their natural luster over time and develop dark spots, which sometimes appear black to the eye. Cleaning the brass removes the tarnish and makes the fire extinguisher look bright and new again.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 tsp. dish soap
  • 1 qt. warm water
  • Toothbrush
  • Soft cloth
  • Jeweler’s cloth
  • 2 tbsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 1 pt. hot water
  • Ketchup
  • Yogurt

Combine the dish soap and water to make a soapy mixture. Rub the solution on the fire extinguisher, using a toothbrush to reach any grooved spots or hard-to-reach areas. Wipe down the rest of the fire extinguisher with a soft cloth dipped in the solution.

Rub the brass fire extinguisher with a jeweler’s cloth. These cloths are used by professional jewelers to clean brass and other antique jewelry. The cloths are specially treated with a material that removes tarnish and polishes the brass.

Mix the distilled white vinegar, salt and hot water in a small bucket. Saturate a washcloth or soft cloth in the solution and rub it over the surface of the fire extinguisher. When combined, the products help remove the tarnish on the extinguisher. Rinse off the brass with warm water and pat dry.

Cover the outside of the fire extinguisher with ketchup and let it sit for five minutes. The high acidity level of the tomatoes found in ketchup removes the tarnished spots. Wipe the extinguisher off with a soft cloth and then rinse with fresh water, to remove all the ketchup. Dry the extinguisher completely.

Coat your antique extinguisher with yogurt, rubbing the yogurt into any nooks or engraved areas. The lactic acid in yogurt and other dairy products cut through tarnished areas of brass. After 10 minutes, wipe away the excess yogurt and rinse with fresh water. Dry off the brass completely.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always wear cloth gloves when cleaning brass products. The natural oils in your hands tarnish the brass and make it harder to fully remove the existing tarnish and clean the extinguisher.

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