Metal products made using brass are distinguished by their original color and unusual brilliance. But over time, brass is able to lose its decorative properties, since under the influence of air, metal oxidizes. This process leads to discoloration, stains and loss of gloss of the product. Therefore, often beautiful ornaments have to be cleaned in a secluded place.
To prevent this, brass products must be properly looked after. And it is not necessary to immediately contact a specialist or apply harmful chemicals. How and how to clean brass at home, we will try to understand this article.
A bit of history
Brass is a metal obtained from an alloy of copper and zinc, and the ratio of one unit of copper to two units of zinc is standard. Also, manganese, nickel, tin, aluminum, and lead can be added to the composition. The inclusion of these components significantly changes the properties and color of the alloy.
Despite the fact that people learned about brass before our era, the main component of the alloy, zinc became known only in the 16th century. Even in ancient Rome, on the basis of an alloy of copper with zinc ore, household utensils and various decorations were made.
Brass accessories were imported to Russia from Central Asia, where production of products from this alloy was also arranged. These items and decorations were highly valued by the nobility for their unique color, brilliance and high enough quality. Since 1746, when zinc was discovered, brass also appeared.
Brass alloys are often called eternal metal, because products from this material are highly resistant to wear. Thus, an alloy with a 20 percent content of zinc, a two-component type, is widely used in the automotive industry for the manufacture of spare parts. Such an alloy is widely used in heat engineering, due to which a large number of valves are made of brass.
Various pipes and springs are made from multicomponent brass, which are widely used in aircraft and shipbuilding. And the high resistance of the material to magnetic attraction has found its application in the manufacture of compasses. To protect against rust, cast brass spraying is used.
And, of course, brass alloys are widely used in jewelry production. So, a good brass jeweler, which includes 5% aluminum and 15% zinc, is able to create products that are very difficult to distinguish from gold jewelry.
To preserve the appearance of the alloy, it is necessary to regularly perform some cleaning operations. Therefore, before cleaning brass at home, you need to familiarize yourself with the basic rules for caring for the alloy.
Brass Care Rules
Qualitatively clean copper, brass can be subject to the following recommendations:
- To remove oxides and severe contamination, it is necessary to use cleaning products that do not contain abrasive elements in their composition. Such funds can be purchased in specialized stores of household chemicals or prepared independently at home.
- Varnish spraying must not be exposed to aggressive substances. It is better to treat such surfaces with a rag or cotton pad moistened with soapy water.
- Plaque and heavy dirt are removed with a soft bristle brush.
- The use of acetic, hydrochloric and citric acids allows for quick cleaning. But it is necessary to act with great caution so as not to harm.
- Using a dishwasher to wash brass utensils is not recommended, as it may darken.
Preparing brass for cleaning
Before cleaning brass at home, it is necessary to perform a number of preparatory operations:
- First you need to determine what the product is made of. Such a small test can be carried out using a magnet. So, if the alloy is brass, the magnet is not attracted to the product. If the part is magnetized, then it is made of another metal, and has only a thin brass coating.
- The determination of the age of the brass product is of no small importance, since the alloy was previously treated with special protective compounds. Such means allowed to create a protective layer that protected the metal from the harmful effects of negative factors.
- The practical step in preparing brass for the cleaning process is to remove contaminants from its surface. This is done with a soapy solution or detergent. The workpiece is lowered into the solution for 20 minutes, and then cleaned with a brush.
- Another important step is the removal of varnish from the surface of the product. For this purpose, you can use nail polish removers. The most gentle way is to immerse the product in hot water. In this case, the metal expands, and then cooling narrows it, and the varnish exfoliates.
The implementation of these preparatory measures will further improve the quality of brass cleaning.
Basic Brass Cleaning Methods
The modern chemical industry offers a wide variety of substances and compositions than cleaning brass at home. You can buy cleaning products in many hardware stores, but it’s not difficult to prepare such mixtures literally from improvised means that every housewife has. Remember, when choosing a cleaning agent in a store, you need to pay attention to the absence of chemically active elements in their composition that can harm the alloy.
Of the main substances that are used in the cleaning of brass, one can distinguish:
- oxalic acid;
- lemon acid;
- acetic acid.
But many brass jewelery owners are wary of chemicals. In this case, folk remedies come to the rescue. How can I clean brass? Pay attention to the following compounds:
- soap solution;
- table vinegar;
- lemon juice with salt.
The choice of funds is carried out empirically. To do this, it is better to try to clean the inconspicuous area of the product.
On how to quickly clean brass, we will consider in more detail below.
Brass Acetone Cleaning
Acetone is one of the most effective drugs for removing various brass defects, especially darkening of the alloy. It is worth noting that this substance dissolves paint or varnish well, so after its use it will be necessary to restore the protective coating.
Before you clean the brass using acetone, you need to perform preparatory operations that will allow you to do the job most efficiently.
The cleaning procedure is as follows:
- First you need to soak a cotton swab with acetone.
- Next, you need to intensively process the darkened parts of the product.
- Then rinse the workpiece under running hot water, while it is better to use a detergent in addition.
- Wipe the product with a soft cloth until it dries completely.
Remember that all work must be done with protective gloves.
Use of oxalic acid
It is not recommended to use oxalic acid in its pure form, since it is an aggressive substance. Before starting cleaning, wear protective gloves and goggles.
The order of the work is as follows:
- We dilute 25 grams of acid in one liter of water. Preparation of the solution is best done in a plastic container.
- We wet the sponge or cotton swab with the solution, and we process the brass billet.
- Soak the moistened workpiece for 15–20 minutes, and then thoroughly rinse it in warm water with a soapy solution.
- After that, dry the product.
During the cleaning process, the product will darken, but this coating will disappear after washing.
You can clean brass by immersing the product in a container with an acid solution. In this way, you can clean both old brass and stubborn dirt. After such a bath, the product is washed and dried.
The combination of citric acid with soda allows you to effectively clean brass products.
To do this, you need:
- dissolve 60 g of soda in 50 ml of water;
- treat the product with a cotton swab or sponge with this composition;
- after 20 minutes, wipe the product with the flesh of a lemon;
- after 40 minutes, rinse the brass with water and wipe dry with a soft rag.
If it was not possible to achieve the desired result, then before you clean the brass to a shine, you must repeat all the operations. Usually the second cleaning allows you to achieve the desired effect.
The use of acetic acid is an effective tool for removing oxides and soot from brass products. Cleaning work is recommended in a well-ventilated area, since vinegar vapors have a harmful effect on the human body.
For high-quality brass cleaning it is necessary:
- Fill the container with water, add vinegar and salt. One tablespoon of salt is added to a glass of vinegar.
- Put the container on the stove and wait for the mixture to boil.
- Then you need to immerse the product to be cleaned in a boiling composition.
- Boil it all for three hours. When boiling the mixture, add the appropriate ingredients in the desired proportion.
- After that, thoroughly rinse the product and dry it.
A very effective way is to use a vinegar test:
- Add a glass of flour to the mixture of water and vinegar from an equal ratio. Flour is used as an absorbent.
- This pasty mass must be applied to the brass product.
- Wait about 20 minutes and wipe the product with a damp rag.
- Rinse and dry the product.
If it was not possible to remove all the stains, all steps must be repeated.
Before you clean the brass to shine, using acidic agents, try to turn your attention to some folk remedies. These recipes can effectively remove minor contamination of brass without damaging the structure of the material.
Popular methods include:
- Brass cleaning with toothpaste. This way you can get rid of a slight darkening of the brass. Using a soft brush, toothpaste is applied to the surface of the product. After waiting a little, the composition is washed off with warm water and the product is dried.
- Since ancient times, the method of cleaning brass with the help of cranberries was widely used in Russia. For this, the cranberry fruits were simply rubbed into the surface of the brass, and after 15 minutes were washed off with water.
- Also, weak contaminants were successfully removed with a soap solution. This method is considered the most sparing, since it does not damage the surface of brass at all.
- An effective method is the use of a mixture of buttermilk (200 ml) and salt (one teaspoon). As a result of this mixing, carbon dioxide is released that effectively cleans the brass browning.
As can be seen from the article, there are many effective ways of high-quality cleaning of brass products. For owners of beautiful brass jewelry who do not want to work with acidic agents, you can use folk recipes. Remember that it is better to start cleaning using less active substances. If it is not possible to achieve the desired result, then only then can stronger chemical compositions be used.