Cleaning brass

Old 01-09-09, 09:36 AM
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Cleaning brass

Our church has many items made of brass and brass plate, Most of these items are have deep, intricate designs. Does anyone know of a way to clean the tarnish from these designs?
We're a little afraid that using something like jeweler's rouge on a Dremel tool will damage the finish.
Old 01-09-09, 09:42 AM
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You can use an old toothbrush. The patina in the designs is often desired because it highlight the design. Many also like the patina of tarnished brass. If you want to polish, avoid abrasive cleaners. Brass plated items have very thin plating which can be worn away with excessive cleaning. If a magnet sticks to the items it is brass plating or not really brass. If items have lacquer coating, lacquer remover will remove the lacquer so you can polish. Afterwards, wipe with lacquer thinner again. Handle with gloves to leave no fingerprints. Apply a couple coats of clear spray lacquer. The items will eventually oxidize again and the process will have to be repeated.
Old 01-09-09, 10:16 AM
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Old Navy (as in ships and oceans, not the clothing store) trick. We used it to clean brass fire nozzles and other solid brass items, esp those that were exposed to the elements. This won't work on lacquered items, as was mentioned, that would have to be removed first. It also won't leave a high polish, but it will remove tarnish and verdigris. It will also eat the brass completely off thinly plated items, exposing the underlying base metal.

Get a bucket of warm water large enough for the items. Put about 4 packets (or more) per gallon of unsweetened plain old orange koolaid or the generic brand in. Stir it up well and put the items in to soak. Occasional brushing with a stiff toothbrush or similar will help speed the process. Leave it overnite, remove the items and rinse in plain water. Dry and polish and coat with lacquer if desired.

Try it with some smaller solid brass items to get a feel for the process. It was different when we were putting 5 lb solid brass multipurpose fire nozzles and such in. Not a lot of concern for the intricate

Other flavors work as well, but apparently the higher tartness of orange seemed best. The citric acid maybe?

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