Copper Lanterns & Outdoor Lighting: Inspirations, Answers, and Advice
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Natural Ways To Clean Copper and Brass Lighting Fixtures
Brass and Copper outdoor lighting should cleaned periodically to prevent deterioration. This article offers several natural alternatives to commercial brass and copper cleaners which can be made from items already found in most kitchens.
Natural Brass & Copper Cleaner by Ann Salter, Demand Media
Brass and copper develop an unsightly patina, or tarnish, over time due to chemical reactions between the surface of the metal and the surrounding air. Many metal-cleaning products, or tarnish removers, contain harsh chemicals that can damage human health. Create safe, inexpensive and effective homemade brass and copper polish from just a few simple kitchen ingredients.
Many commercial brass and copper cleaning products contain formaldehyde and other harsh chemical ingredients that release harmful fumes known to irritate respiratory systems and cause other short- and long-term health problems. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to these gases, called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can cause asthma attacks, allergic reactions, difficulty in speaking and walking, memory loss, nausea, cancer and damage to the kidneys, central nervous system and liver (see References 1, 2). Use natural brass and copper cleaners free of harmful chemical ingredients to prevent exposure to these toxins. (See References 1, 2, 3)
Vinegar and Sauces
Clean tarnished brass and copper surfaces with common condiments found in most refrigerators and pantries. To remove the tarnish from bass, rub the surface with a mixture of vinegar and salt or try applying some Worcestershire sauce. Clean copper surfaces by boiling a mixture of 3 cups water, 1 cup distilled white vinegar and 1 tbsp. salt. Soak a cotton rag in the hot solution and apply it over the copper surface. Let it cool, then wipe the area clean. For a simple method to clean either copper or brass, rub a small amount of ketchup over the tarnished area using a soft rag and then wash and rinse the area. (See References 4, 5)
Lemon and Salt
To remove small bits of tarnish from brass and copper, rub the metal with sliced lemons. For a stronger polish, mix equal parts salt and non-iodized cornstarch with enough lemon juice to make a paste. Rub the paste onto the metal with a soft rag and rinse with warm water and castile soap, or any other mild vegetable oil--based soap. To clean copper pots and pans, sprinkle salt on a lemon wedge. Scrub the cookware with the salted lemon wedge and then wash and rinse the surface. (See References 4, 5, 6)
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, a natural powdered mineral commonly available in supermarkets, provides a nontoxic alternative to many harsh chemical cleaners. Polish metal surfaces with a soft cloth dipped in a mixture of baking soda and lemon juice. For tougher jobs, sprinkle only baking soda on the cloth and rub it over the tarnished metal, or sprinkle a generous amount baking soda onto a lemon wedge and rub the wedge over the surface. Wash the area with castile soap, rinse with water and dry with a clean towel. (See References 5, 6)
Ann Salter began writing professionally in 2010 and has worked extensively in the fields of art, architecture and design since 2004. Her work has appeared in informative guides on student housing cooperatives and sustainable building alternatives. Other areas of specialty include technology, health, gardening and cooking. Salter holds a Bachelor of Architectural Studies from the University of Waterloo.