Cleaning Brass

kss1956November 14, 2012

I want to clean my dirty and darkened solid brass (determined it was solid brass by doing the magnet test) hinges on my toilet seat and prefer to use natural products, my favorite being vinegar. Most cleaning directions that I googled are for cleaning "tarnished" not dirty brass. I was told that solid brass doesn't tarnish-is this true?


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I feel embarrassed by my question-my friend just told me "of course solid brass tarnishes". My other friend who is a great handyman told me it doesn't tarnish. I told my son my biggest life lesson to him is don't believe what people tell you. These two friends were very confident in their statement to me!! I'm not sure who to believe.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 7:47AM
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Wikipedia lists perhaps a dozen or more different kinds of brass. One is called corrosion resistant.

I went back and counted. They list about 25 different kinds of brass.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 1:40PM
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I'm a metalsmith. Virtually any brass product that is made for household use will tarnish. All brass is an alloy of copper and another metal, often zinc. It's the copper content that makes brass tarnish. If it's dirty, clean the dirt off first, then attack the tarnish.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 8:57PM
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Brass tarnishes or at least the brass found in any ordinary toilet seat. There are companies that sell "lifetime" brass products, which are an entirely different animal.

If you want to polish brass, use Brasso. After you get it polished up, hit the hinges with some clear lacquer (spray can, hardware store). That will delay the tarnishing but not eliminate it. At some point in the future, remove the lacquer (hardware store), polish, and re-lacquer.

Or buy a new toilet seat with plastic hinges. ;-)

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 11:52PM
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Years ago I collected a few brass pieces and decided they weren't worth the constant work. I put them in a garage sale.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 8:06PM
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If you're looking for natural products to clean brass and copper, here are two good ones:

1) White vinegar and salt. This works better than vinegar alone. It's a little messy, but it's handy because everyone has these ingredients on hand.

2) Tamarind paste, which you can buy at Indian or Asian grocery stores. Just be sure to buy tamarind paste (also called concentrate), and not the tamarind block (raw tamarind, including fiber and seeds, compressed into a block) or tamarind chutney or sauce, which contain lots of other ingredients. If you're shopping in an Indian store, the Hindi name for tamarind is "imli". I don't remember the name of brand that I buy, but it comes in a plastic jar with a red lid. Any brand will do, though, as long as it's pure tamarind, which is 12% tartaric acid. Thanks to its acidity, tamarind concentrate keeps just about forever at room temperature, even after opening. I prefer using tamarind paste over vinegar and salt because the paste has a better consistency for polishing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wikipedia article on tamarind

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 6:16PM
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