Copper, a chemical element, is ductile and is easily malleable. It offers high electrical and thermal conductivity. Most copper is obtained for making electrical equipment like motors and wires. Copper is also being used in construction as part of plumbing and roofing, as well as a heat exchanger for industrial machinery. Copper’s natural and unique characteristics are termed patina. It is the process of copper changing in color and turning gradually in greenish, brownish color when it ages. Learn how to artificially age copper using a copper aging solution in this article. You can achieve this effect overnight.
Copper aging is caused by humidity (dry climates) and is called oxidation after a lengthened duration has passed. Copper then becomes copper oxide. This process preserves copper, protecting it from external elements. Shiny copper appears very nice at the bottom of the pans and pots than hang in your kitchen. It is also being utilized for arts and crafts. Did you know? The Statue of Liberty is covered by a green patina. Copper naturally ages wonderfully, and as a result, people look for the effect it gives to make their copper furniture or other crafts and things have a nicer appearance.
Preparing DIY Copper Aging Solution
Making copper aging solution is relatively easy, and you won’t be requiring any dangerous chemicals to acquire the solution.
Safety reminder: Always wear rubber gloves, change into older clothing, and put on goggles for work better protection.
Gathering the ingredients
- Warm water (26 ounces)
- Rubbing alcohol
- Lemon juice
- Salt (iodine-free)
- Grease-fighting detergent
- Soft cloth
- Small spray bottle
- Quart spray bottle
- Big plastic trash bag w/ a tie
Part of these ingredients are combined for copper cleaning, and partly make the agent for copper aging.
Ammonia cleaning agent
Take your copper-coated object or furniture piece that you want to spray the copper solution into then remove its lacquer coating using acetone, paint thinner or nail polish remover. Remember to put on the rubber gloves as you’re working to prevent any skin oil which may transfer into the copper.
Now, take the ff. Ingredients: 70% rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) with 2 tablespoons of ammonia, 1/4 teaspoon detergent, and 26 ounces warm water and mix them all inside a quart spray bottle. Begin spraying this mixture to the copper to start cleaning it. Then wipe it using a cloth (preferably lint-free).
For this homemade mixture, you will need a homemade compound as well. Once you make the copper compound, you must apply it to the copper object. Give it time to work, then repeat the method when needed to give you the results you want. The plastic bag w/ tie will enable you to make a humid environment to quicken the process.
To prepare, take the spray bottle then mix equal amounts of lemon juice, distilled white vinegar, homemade ammonia + salt (w/o iodine). Avoid using salt that has iodine for better results because iodized salt lessens the green color. If you can’t procure lemon juice, you can take vinegar and ammonia in replacement. However, lemon juice will help with the copper aging.
You will begin to notice results as quick as 15 minutes once you place the copper inside the bag. However, copper will take around 4 to 8 hours to achieve that dark-brown color. The copper will become more dark depending on how long it stays inside the bag, and big surfaces will get an uneven and aged look.
To start with the aging process for your copper object, wipe the surface of the whole thing using a lint-free cloth, removing dirt and oil. Inside another spray bottle, combine the aging compound with the use of homemade ammonia, and table salt. Now, start to spray your copper item using a window cleaner. Finally, coat the object using the aging compound.
First, don’t forget to wear gloves. Now, begin to spray the copper object using the ammonia cleaning agent that you began with. Allow it to sit on the copper object’s surface. Spray the aging mixture then allow it to sit on your copper item.
If you are living in a more humid climate, you don’t have to perform this next step. If not, once the object is sprayed using an aging mixture, place it into the plastic bag then tie it. That will make a humid environment for the copper object, speeding up oxidation. Allow it to rest for a couple of hours. You may repeat this aging process if necessary. It will appear as green patina at the initial attempt, but some of this patina will go away with after more cleaning. Repeated coating and waiting it out will provide a better turnout.
To get that dark-brown shade you’re aiming for, you need two hard-boiled eggs. Break them into small bits, including the shells using a fork, then place the content inside a small (open) container and into a bigger one with a lid. Now, put the copper object in the sealed container. Ensure that the eggs won’t touch the copper.
The sulfides inside the crush eggs will begin to react with the piece of copper. It will give it that brown color. However, it will take a few days to completely turn brown. You may add a few more eggs if needed.
For this color, add the blue-green patina copper mixture into a dish (preferably plastic). Now, apply this solution onto the copper object using a foam brush. This will leave parts of the copper left untouched, also giving it somewhat a more distressed appearance. Allow this to completely dry then observe as the color changes to blue-green.
Next, apply a second patina coating if you do not like the color that shows. If you keep repeating the process of the application then drying it up, you can get your desired color. The shade may be too opaque at some point if it happens, so use sandpaper or scrub brush to scuff it.
Finally, spray your copper item using topcoat (clear) that is used for metal only. This will prevent oxidation from the further building, leaving it with just that final appearance.
Now you know how to prepare and use copper aging solutions properly.