Daily Wire Tip July 12: Resources for Preventing Tarnish on Copper

By on July 11, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
July 12, 2011

Question:

Hi! I have recently begun making jewelry after years in between a high school course and have a love for metal work. Although copper is my favorite medium, it has that pesky habit of turning people green. Is there a product or process I can use to stop that?

-Alaina in Robbinsdale, Minnesota

Answer:

Tarnish! Either you love it or you don’t. Alaina, I would like to direct you to several discussions we have had with regards to ways to prevent tarnish not only on copper, but also on brass. As more and more of us are using less expensive wire, I think folks will enjoy rereading these posts, which mention several products like Renaissance Wax, ProtectaClear, and NuFinish, that can be used to prevent tarnish on copper wire. Please don’t stop at the bottom of the posts, though – continue on and read the comments, because many folks have shared their experiments and experiences with all of us.

In the Tip Protecting Copper from Tarnishing no fewer than 8 different products are suggested!

Following the Tip Prevent Tarnish on Copper and Nickel Silver is a huge discussion (nearly 40 comments to-date!) that includes some more natural cleaning methods as well as experiments that didn’t turn out well, and how to counter them.

One comment under Keep Copper Wire Shining talks about actually using the beauty of tarnished copper within a design. Hopefully one of these discussions will help you as well.

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

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8 Comments

  1. avatar

    DeLane

    July 12, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Dale, I’ve seen lots of suggestions on keeping copper bright and shiny. But I have some copper pieces that have been patinated to a beautiful color spectrum, and I’m wondering how to keep these gorgeous colors on my copper. The maker had coated one side with a spray acrylic, but the colors were dulled down. I want the really colorful patination. The seller suggested Renaissance Wax, but said she had not used it so did not know if tht would work. Any other suggestions would be very welcome before I begin working with these pieces.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      July 12, 2011 at 10:46 pm

      Delane, I hope that those who have more experience in working with base metals than I, will respond to your concern by sharing their experiences – or you could experiment and let us know your results!

  2. avatar

    Deitra

    July 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I have not tried the Renaissance Wax, but I can vouch for carnauba wax. You can get it in the auto section of Wal-mart, Target and auto supply stores. Since it is designed for cars, it is a really hard wax finish. It will never melt on a customer’s clothing. That being said, I generally apply multiple coats. I will apply one coat with a soft paint brush and heat it with my hair dryer to melt in, then wait until the next day and buff the piece.

    I can also vouch for Everbrite. I also usually apply two coats with a paint brush.

    Both these methods are effective on brass and usually on copper, and the Everbrite more than the wax. Unfortunately, nothing seems to be 100% effective on copper in our 100 degree, high humidity, Arkansas summer days and my body chemistry. I have had to re-oxidize and re-seal my favorite copper earrings twice this summer after hot days at craft fairs.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      July 12, 2011 at 10:40 pm

      Deitra, thank-you very much for sharing your personal experiences with these products with all of us. I appreciate your time!

  3. avatar

    Disenos Del Corazon

    July 12, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    I can also vouch for Everbrite. I have used it both on copper and bronze metal clay pieces, as well as silver metal clay with a very nice shine, no change in color (knock on wood so far), and it is very economical and easy to apply.

  4. avatar

    BethF

    July 13, 2011 at 2:30 am

    I swear by Renaissance Wax! I use Sterlimg. Argentium, Copper, Brass… The key to keeping it on & not having it wear off is to let it “cure” a bit between applications (I usually try to only out one on, but for copper, I use two) — I also let it “cure” after buffing wax with my Dremel. That way I’m assured it’s on there & has no chance of coming off!

  5. avatar

    Beverley

    July 22, 2011 at 12:06 am

    A bead shop owner told me about cleaning gold and silver necklace chains with Head and Shoulders shampoo — simply pour a quarter-sized dollop of H&S shampoo into your hand and roll the chain between your palms to clean off any grime and tarnish, then rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth. I had asked about cleaning copper chain and she said it would likely work, but she hadn’t used it for copper. I tried it on a tarnished copper chain and it worked extremely well! She did say Head & Shoulders worked better than other shampoos, likely because of its viscosity. Then I wondered if other products would work as well — and tried some Avon bubble bath (it is reported to be able to clean anything, including bicycle chains). I tried the Avon bubble bath and it worked as well as the H&S shampoo, following the same method as before. My copper chain came out shiny and looking almost like it did when new. It doesn’t stop the chain from darkening again, but it always cleans up well each time and does not wreck or spoil the copper wire.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      July 22, 2011 at 9:54 am

      Very interesting Beverley, thanks for sharing this new info with all of us! (Makes me wonder about what we use on our human bodies though…)

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