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topic 1198p2

How to Darken Copper, Brass or Bronze

1 2

December 14, 2011

Q. Hi ! I am remodeling and bought wonderful doors at a salvage place. The handles were gold plated. I had the plating and underlying zinc removed leaving very bright brass. I would like to make the brass appear darker with a rosy tone to compliment a chandelier in the room. Is this asking too much ? I would appreciate any advice. Thanks !

Diane Valine
- Rancho Palos Verdes, California, USA

Rub 'n Buff Sampler

December 18, 2011

A. Hi, Diane.

A wax rub is probably the fastest and easiest route to the color you want while maintaining a real metallic look =>

but the durability of that approach is questionable depending on exactly what you mean by "handles". Good luck.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 30, 2012

Q. I have a couple of reproduction ancient bronze rings, and would like to put a dark brown patina on them similar to if they were dug up. I have tried liver of sulfur, the liquid form but after wearing them a day or two the patina starts to wear off. Did I not use it correctly, or is there another method to oxidize them?

William Summe
- Griffin, Georgia, USA

May 16, 2012

Q. Hello everyone I read the thread before asking my question. And it was really informative & helpful. My question is how to create a shading effect on Gold Jewelry. One particular one I remember seeing it was a gold flower necklace & the petals had this shading effect from bright gold to dark brown. Any kind of help will be appreciated. Thank You

Viral Soni
- Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

July 10, 2012

Q. Hello everyone,
I have a brass brass plate with lots of holes drilled into it that I would like to get really black. Some of the beams in the plate are as thin as 0.1 mm. We already tried to leave the plate in a solution of 250 g Copper-Hydroxycarbonate and 1 liter of ammonia for 3 hours and overnight. 3 hours wasn't sufficiently dark and the overnight treatment ate away a lot of the fine beams. Could you point me to other treatments or variations which are milder than this but also lead to a strong black? A black deposit on the plate would also work, but I do not know of a process to do this right now.
Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks a lot and best regards,


Andreas Frölich
- Karlsruhe, Germany

December 27, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. How to get the black color on brass using chemicals?

Reza Karimkhan
- Tallahassee, Florida

February 18, 2013

Q. I have a copper weathervane (of a Labrador Retriever) what has turned nearly black, from being outdoors over 4 years. I would like to lighten it and preserve the lighter finish. The surface is 18" x 12", so copper cleaner is taking too long. The natural color is not shiny copper, but somewhat antiqued. What do you recommend? Should I just leave it dark brown?

Jim Carlisle
- Colleyville, Texas, USA

April 14, 2013

A. Easy method for darkening brass:

I wanted to darken my antique brass hardware that had a finish on it. I needed to get the finish off first which I did with fine steel wool after sand blasting. I guess you could use acetone or some kind of paint or finish remover. I tried Palmolive but it didn't work. I ended up using ammonia and it was really simple. I put all my hardware face up on a cookie sheet inside a plastic trash bag. Lay the trash bag on the counter and slide the cookie sheet in. Fill a glass bowl with a couple cups of ammonia. Place the bowl of ammonia in the center of the cookie sheet. I also place a heavy drinking glass upside down in the center of the ammonia bowl to keep the bag up and away from the hardware. This way the fumes from the ammonia was able to circulate. I then tied up the bag and left it over night. In the morning the hardware was perfectly aged. It looks A bit dry so I am going to rub a little polish on it to just liven it up a bit. This method was simple and quick.

Nancy Lucier
- Holland, Massachusetts

April 22, 2013

Q. Dear Sirs / Madams

As a very nearly retired signmaker, I have been making bronze plaques for over 50 years but have now hit a problem; the toning powder I used is no longer available.

This used to come for a company called Walsh and the label said "Contains Antimony Sulfide". I would mix the powder with Ammonia and brush it onto a bronze casting, let it dry and brush it off. The result was about "Pantone 497".

bronze powder bronze plaque

Can anyone help me with a formula to make an equivalent powder?

Thank you so much, in advance.

James Jacobs
- Bristol, Avon, England

July 12, 2013

Q. Hi Mr Jacobs

We are a signmaker facing the same problem sourcing for the bronze powder used to tarnish brass.

May we know have you found another supplier other than Walsh?

Would appreciate it if you can share.

Thank you!

Christine Teh
- Singapore, Singapore

October 9, 2013

A. I am currently using ammonia to darken a brass piano leg caster and it appears to be working. I've only had it outside in a sealed bag for about 24 hours. It hasn't reached the desired darkness yet but seems to be getting there. The first thing I had to do was remove the lacquer finish. I bought some finger nail polish remover as it contains acetone but it did not remove the lacquer, only seemed to etch it slightly. Having used it however, did make it easier removing the lacquer with sand paper. Once that was done, I put some ammonia in a disposable plastic storage bowl, used the lid to hold the caster and placed both into a small plastic garbage bag which I tied shut. Don't expect immediate results for a dark color using this method.

Carolina Whitten
- Columbia, South Carolina, USA

Darkening a Brass Chandelier that has heavy Green Patina


February 1, 2014 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I just purchased an old chandelier which appears to be brass. It has a heavy patina on it and I would prefer a darker color.

Is there any way I can achieve this other than spray painting it?

Selena Norris
- Atlanta, Georgia

February 2014

A. Hi Selena. I find that to be quite an attractive chandelier and hate to see you mess with it. But the first thing to find out is whether it's actually brass. If it's magnetic, it's not brass, and is at best brass plated -- which probably will not stand up to the darkening chemistry. If it's not magnetic, it could of course be aluminum or zinc; but you may be able to sense whether it's aluminum just from the light weight. If you're pretty sure it's brass, then this thread has worthwhile ideas for you. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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How to darken brass without immersion

January 28, 2015

Q. Hello all,

I have learned so much from reading this thread! I would like to darken (to an almost black color) some brass lamps that I found. I have determined that they are in fact brass and have removed the clear coat on top using acetone and some scrubbing. I have looked into many of the brass darkening solutions on here, which would definitely work, but I would need a LOT of the solution to completely cover and soak each lamp as they are not small objects. I am wondering if it would still work if I used the solutions on a rag and rubbed the lamps or if there is some other technique for larger objects that I am not finding.



Abby Godfrey
- Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

January 31, 2015

Q. Hi. How can I remove a lacquered brass coating on a solid brass faucet that has a PVD coating? I have tried Acetone and lacquer thinner and now a spray paint stripper with no luck.

Heather Ezyk
- East Longmeadow

February 10, 2015

A. Good day Heather.

I have some experience with electrophoretic lacquers and the stripping of the coating. I used a stripper which contained methylene chloride (which strips epoxy) and formic acid. (Atotech/Aquatone PS 400).
This stripper "softens" the coating, requiring mechanical removal of the coating with a brush, in a bucket of water.
This stripper requires a "layer" of water on the surface to prevent evaporation of the methylene chloride.
Great care must be taken with the stripper, as the formic acid is EXTREMELY corrosive. A splash on exposed skin will produce a burn/blister instantly.(Formic acid is the chemical which fire ants produce!)
I strongly recommend the highest degree of personal protection(when using any corrosive chemical) as a full face shield,respirator, arms length gloves.
Any chemical can be dangerous, but with the proper PPE, you can minimize the risk.
I hope I didn't alarm you.
Best wishes.


Eric Bogner - Lab Tech.
Aerotek Mfg. Ltd. - Whitby, Ontario, Canada

February 10, 2015

A. Not to throw a wrench into your plans, but we PVD coat brass faucets on a regular basis and they are never lacquer coated. That is one of the great advantages of the coating -- it is pretty much a lifetime finish. You may be trying to strip the PVD coating off of the surface. I say this because PVD coatings are pretty much impervious to the chemicals you have used. PVD coatings can be stripped off, but it requires special chemicals in heated tanks in a properly vented facility. It is not done in situ. To add to the problem, you need a different chemical to strip a Ti-based PVD coating than you do for a Zr- or Cr-based PVD coating.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
- Vista, California

March 3, 2015

Q. I have 4 cast iron, brass plated steel piano stool claw feet, with glass balls. Two of which have been rubbed with Stripper X and steel wool. This has removed the dark black vintage patina and has exposed the brass which is shiny, and in some spots the silver steel is showing through. The other 2 feet have not been messed with.
My question is this: Is there any way to get the 2 feet that have been stripped to look like they did before they were messed with, so they match the other 2 feet that were not touched?
I have read through the posts in this thread and I'm wondering if the ammonia method in a plastic bag will work or is there something better?

Thanks in advance!

Wynnie Keegan
- Temecula, California USA

1198-5a 1198-5b
March 4, 2015

Q. Hi my name is Matthew. So the situation I am faced with is this. I am making a machined Alum holder to display my fathers three shells from his 21 gun salute. On this holder will be 4 engraved placards that will contain his information. I need these to be Black prefer flat black so that when they are engraved the brass coloring shows through. So my questions. Which material Brass, Bronze or Copper and what process? Originally I was going to have the alum holder anodized black but from what I can find out Brass cannot be anodized. So to keep everything looking the same will hopefully use the same process as the other metals for the aluminum.

Thanks for your help in advance,

Matthew R
just me lol - Arizona

March 2015

A. Hi Matthew. If you look at trophies you'll see that they are usually brass colored with engraved black lettering; high school rings will be gold on the raised areas and black in the recesses; jewelry too, and oil-rubbed items will be bright on the raised areas and dark in the recessed areas. This convention is because raised and exposed areas tend to wear and get shiny whereas recessed areas tend to retain their blackening and accumulate oxidation and dirt. For that reason I'd suggest that you entertain the possibility of perhaps making the placards brass colored with black engraving instead of the reverse. Further, it's hard to make different metals like brass and aluminum match by coloring them black or any other color because they have a different grain, texture, etc., and the colors will look different in different light (black anodizing is actually either very very dark blue or very very dark red). So I think you'll get a better match and more natural look with brass placards to match the shells -- but it's a matter of taste and I don't claim to have much.

The aluminum probably needs to be anodized and dyed black whereas the brass probably needs treatment with selenium dioxide as described in this thread. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

April 5, 2015

A. Wynnie and Matt, the solutions you seek are the same. The process is a chemical which turns the copper element in each of your metals from a light brown through to a dark black when used with heat. Then apply lacquer and wax. Matt, your process is to dip the brass plaques into our chemical till black then application of vinyl film (letter mask) you will then get letters etched at trophy shop.

Call us at Restore It Yourself Products if you need more info.

Barry Feinman

Barry Feinman
Restore It Yourself, Inc
supporting advertiser
Carlsbad, California

restore it yourself banner

May 14, 2015

A. I might be a little late with the addition to this thread as I was researching something else and stumbled across this - I know that Bronzing Powders are short on supply but know that Access Chemicals Ltd in Tamworth, UK sell Brown Bronze Powder for "brush on" application as described above. It's a niche market and only a few manufacturers produce this product now. Apologies if this is of no use.

Richard Clarke
- Coalville, Leicestershire, UK

July 9, 2015

! I just stumbled onto this page through a google search and this may be way outdated but I found so much great information on here. I am working with Bronze and Brass sheet metal and tried some of these tips to get the right finish and found the Liver to work best. I thought I'd pass on a tip: I purchase my raw metals from a local company with good pricing and real nice people to deal with, Widener Metals in PA. I just wanted to try to return the favor. Thanks guys for the tips!

Thomas Tingle
- Levittown, Pennsylvania

July 2015

thumbs up signHi Thomas. Thanks. We'll have to see how it goes since commercial testimonials on this no-registration-required, largely anonymous, site often go south very quickly :-(


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

July 12, 2015

A. I ran out of the chemicals I've used to do this in the past. Came across this thread while searching for a household solution to the problem. Couldn't find what I was looking for so I started experimenting. I quickly discovered that a mixture of hydrogen peroxide & white vinegar works great! My hinges have been soaking about an hour now and look better than the ones I've done before. Keep in mind, these were raw brass, it won't work if they're lacquered.

A. Desiderio
- Downingtown, Pennsylvania USA

August 25, 2015

Q. I have 2 copper sinks in a bathroom and one, being used more than the other, has lost a lot of it antique brown finish. Will the Palmolive dish soap technique work on this or should I go with something else? Also, once I get the color finish I want, how do I keep it since both sinks are used on a daily basis?

Thank you!

Gail Hyfantis
- Seymour, Tennessee, USA

October 16, 2015

A. Gail, great questions. The patina created on copper sinks is beautiful but fragile. Harsh chemicals and abrasive scrubbing will remove this finish.

A repair kit which we created to resolve issues like yours will quickly restore your beautiful finish. We also give you a hardy brown wax which will help protect your finishes. Frequent application of our wax will keep it looking its best. A call to our offices and we will help anyone with solutions for copper, bronze. and stainless steel

barry feinman
Barry Feinman
Restore It Yourself, Inc
Carlsbad, California

December 11, 2015

Q. Hey
I have a statue made up of brass. I want to turn this into golden colour with glossy appearance. Which wax and lacquer I should use? Please suggest. Thanks.

Swanand Ghule
- kolhapur maharashtra India

How to make liver of sulphur to blacken brass

February 6, 2016

Q. Hi, I live in Iran and I have a small job in plating and patina. I need to blacken brass and copper but I can't find liver of sulphur here. Can I make by myself or use another solution as well as that. I will be so glad if you help me.

Amir goudarzi
- Iran tehran

February 2016

A. Hello cousin Amir. Try enclosing the item is a plastic bag with a crushed hard boiled egg, and tell us what happens. Thanks.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

February 9, 2016

A. Try next download free metals colouring and cyanide free plating handbook( 0 $!):

Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb,Croatia

February 17, 2016

Q. I used the Birchwood Casey Perma Blue to get a dark patina on 385 bronze. It worked great. This was after trying liver of sulfur without much success. My question is should I now apply a clear coat lacquer? Or will it maintain the patina without the coating. The material is being used as a trim between a existing backsplash and new black granite counter.

Thank you

Stephen Von Ohlen
- Carlstadt New Jersey USA

August 31, 2016

Q. Once I am finished changing my shiny brass patio door levers to an oil rubbed bronze finish, don't I need to apply a permanent protective coating or lacquer to the metal? They are used daily and exposed to the elements. If so, what would I use? Thanks

Jane Lockwood
- Plainwell Michigan United States

April 19, 2017

A. Researching historical metal processes, I came across the following 19th century references on Google Books for bronzing formulations. While modern products may be more efficient, those wishing to replicate the old finishes will hopefully find these helpful.




The last is a French treatise with several formulations for the famous French green bronze coating. You can copy and paste into Google Translate.

Craig Sholley
- Carlisle, Pennsylvania USA

April 2017

thumbs up signThanks for the great references Craig!

The French book displays as pictures of text, rather than as cut&paste-able text; I do see a way of translating it (first download the book as plain text, then copy and paste the plain text into translate.google.com), but if someone knows a simpler way we'd like to post it. Thanks again!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

January 31, 2017

Q. Hi, We purchased this Weslock handle in the oil rubbed bronze,however did not realize this had more red tones that would not match our door. What is the easiest way to darken this to a more bronze/brown color? Will using Palmolive work? Thank you...

peggy leung
- Torrance, California

March 26, 2017

Q. Hi,

Hi. would it be possible to darken the copper color on this lamp? It's Brushed and anodised aluminium.

Kind Regards

Clara Nolan
- dublin, ireland

April 2017

A. Hi Clara. As you already recognize, this lamp is made of aluminum. Therefore, the chemical methods which are the subject of this thread won't work because there's no copper, brass, or bronze for the chemicals to react with.

You can either paint it or apply a wax rub. My experience with the wax rubs is that they are okay if the surface is not a touchable one, which seems to be the case here. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

Patinas for Silicon Bronze

June 14, 2017

Q. I recently bought a bronze vase its 19th century but it looks like brass how do I get the dark patina back on it? Many thanks in anticipation.

Mark manning
- Leeds Yorkshire england

July 13, 2017

Q. I have blackened brass cabinet hardware that the blackening has worn off, especially the handle on the refrigerator. How can I get the blackened appearance back? I was going to try liver of sulfur and than lacquer them again, but is there any other process I can do?

Cher Eppinga
womens touch paint and design - Evergreen, Colorado

August 25, 2017

Q. Very interesting thread and happy to keep it running. I vape an e-cig which is full copper for it's conductivity. Being a bit picky I prefer a darker coloured copper than the bright finish I have now. My question is simply can I safely darken the copper whilst keeping it shiny? And is it a process that needs to be regularly repeated. I'm UK based so would have to use something considered 'safe'.

Again, interested in a lot of what I've read here (and found by accident!!).

Andrew Jones
- Manchester, UK

November 2, 2017

Q. I just bought a vintage dark brown distressed leather sofa that has hundreds of brass nail heads way too shiny for our taste. How do I darken them, without taking them off or damaging the leather. Thanks in advance for any advice.

Letty dupree
- Atlanta, Georgia USA

November 2017

A. Hi Letty. That's really not so much a technical question (because you've already read that liver of sulphur, Rockler brass darkening solution, and several other materials will darken brass), as a question of whether you have the time & temperament, and the steadiness of hand to carefully apply it to "hundreds of brass nail heads" with an artists brush, covering each completely, without getting it on the leather. Further, if they're bright, they probably have a lacquer on them which you'd have to remove the same way first. There's an old saying that you'd need the patience of a saint.

Or just tape the open end of a plastic sandwich with a crushed hard boiled egg in it over one of the nail heads overnight and tell us what, if anything, happens. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

How to darken copper but not brass

Mokume Gane


November 6, 2017

Q. Hi ... thanks for a great thread. I just recently made a patterned (Mokume Gane) metal surface with copper and brass. I had been searching for a way to darken the copper but not the brass. The only thing I have found is by using a heat patina. Can the brilliant contributors here suggest a chemical solution? Thanks so much!


Barbara Hopkins
- South Berwick, Maine

November 2017

A. Hi Barbara. I don't know what the article in question is, but can you try Rokushno patina on it and see whether it offers suitable/any contrast? Or maybe you can darken the whole thing and burnish/relieve the brass?


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

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