How to Age Brass

Tips for Stunning Decoration

The brass used to be quite famous not so long ago. It’s shiny and looks expensive with this golden coating. And even today decoration elements made of this metal are still popular not only among the vintage fans but also among those who appreciate the stylish and unique interior design.

But what if you don’t want it to look so shiny? Then aging brass techniques are exactly what you need! 

How Does Brass Age? A Brief Guide to Brass “Anatomy”

Brass attracts us with its beautiful looks, durability, and utility. It can be used almost everywhere starting from plumbing items and ending with decorations and kitchen utensils

You probably wondered how the natural aging of brass is going on and how long it takes for brass to turn to get that noble patina.

To begin with, brass is an alloy of such metals as nickel and copper. It is hard, corrosion-resistant and has antimicrobial properties, in addition, brass is a good heat and electricity conductor which makes items made of this metal irreplaceable in any kitchen.

How Does Brass Age

Nevertheless, despite all of these positive qualities, brass items tend to tarnish after some time has passed, especially if they were actively used.

What can cause darkening brass at all? 

As it was already mentioned above, brass contains copper which starts to tarnish after being exposed to the outside impact. For example, salt makes brass darken much faster. Other factors that lead to aging brass include chemicals from the tap and rainwater, as well as the air and bacteria from our hands and food.

How Long Does It Take Brass to Tarnish?

How Long Does It Take Brass to Tarnish

The speed of aging of the brass depends on several issues. One is what elements and chemicals the brass item is affected with. If brass is kept outdoor and it is exposed to wind and rain, it will tarnish much faster than an indoor item that is regularly polished and wiped. 

The second issue is how often those brass items are taken care of. The more often you wipe and polish your brass the longer it will keep its shiny look. Of course, unless you love that natural patina on brass!

How to Darken Brass to Make It Look Older?

patina on brass
Photo by Jordan Madrid on Unsplash

If you have some brass items at home and don’t want to wait till they get darker themselves, you can use some do-it-yourself tricks to speed-up the process and get dull brass.

  • To begin with, prepare your brass item for further transformations. Wash away any grease, dust and other extraneous things and dry with a soft cloth.
  • If you are planning to age door handlers, it might be required to scrub them thoroughly.
  • What if your brass item is covered with varnish or lacquer? Then you will have to remove this outer layer with sandpaper or by immersing the item into the paint stripper. The simpler way is to wipe the item with acetone nail polish remover and immerse it into boiling water for a couple of minutes. 

Now that your item is clean, it’s time to proceed to antiquing brass. 

 Is It Brass I’m Going to Age?

It may be quite difficult to tell the difference between them only by their appearance as clean brass has shiny and golden-brown color whilst copper is more like pink-brown or brown, and the bronze is of dark-brown color.

The only trustworthy way to figure out what metal you are dealing with is to use a magnet. Take a small magnet and bring it to the item. Brass will respond to only a strong magnet, so if your small one is attached firmly, then your item is made of some other metal and aging methods used for brass can damage it.

How to Tarnish Brass. Precise Instruction to Follow

aging brass
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

There are several ways of how to age brass. Simply pick the one that fits you most.

ComponentInstructions
Salt and vinegarTo give your brass item fashionable look, use a home-made brass aging solution.Take one part of salt and three of vinegar and cover your brass item using a brush for paint. Leave it covered with this mixture for one night and wash thoroughly the next morning. Then dry carefully with a soft cloth. The acids will make brass oxidize faster and it will darken soon.
Patina paintProbably the fastest way to age your brass. Just buy any spray paint that has antique brass color and apply it according to the instruction.
Wax rubUsing a wax rub will give the brass item a luxurious look and softer shine.
Antiquing brass agerBuying an antiquing agent is the easiest way to age your brass item. Simply follow the instructions and make sure your object is pure brass!
AmmoniaHow to age brass with ammonia? It’s quite easy. Before you begin, take a bucket and put a wooden shelf inside to place your brass item on it. Make sure it is stable and is fixed well. Take clear ammonia and pour it into the bucket. It must not cover the wooden surface with a brass item on it though.Close the bucket with the lid and leave it. The aging may take several hours so it’s better to check how it’s going on in there every hour or so. When you see that your item got the desired color, take it out and dry it in a well-ventilated area. 
How to Darken Brass
Photo by Wim van ‘t Einde on Unsplash

Use these simple brass-aging tricks whenever you want to make your interior look more stylish and refreshed. They are good for small brass objects like hangers or doo handlers, however, bigger items can also easily be tarnished using these methods at home.

Be careful when using such toxic agents as ammonia and ensure that you ventilate the room you are working in properly.

Take care!

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Written by
Camilla Moln
She worked as a consultant for more than 60 articles and has 20 years of work experience as a freelance writer. Now her focus is on decoration tips that are affordable for every family and what you can do without special consultants at home.
Or editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here.
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