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How to Change A Brass Finish to A Darker Bronze

Speed up Mother Nature to add a darker patina to brass pieces.
brass urn image by Richard J Thompson from Fotolia.com

Things You'll Need:

  • Small plastic container
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Small metal hook
  • Metal coffee can, 1 lb. size, with lid
  • Ammonia
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • Small bowl
  • 1 cup water
  • Hair dryer
  • Cool water
  • Soft cloth
  • Spray satin lacquer

Brass is a popular metal used in bed frames, door knobs and fine art pieces. Brass is an alloy that is mainly constructed from zinc and copper and in its natural form has a yellowish appearance. This coloring can be attractive, but a more desirable finish for brass is a browner color. This color can be achieved with age or a brown finish can be chemically induced with products that can be found at most local pharmacies.

Fill a small plastic container 3/4 full with lacquer thinner. Place the brass piece into the bucket, making sure it is completely covered. Cover the container and allow it to sit for 12 hours. This will remove any impurities from the piece.

Remove the brass piece from the lacquer thinner with a small metal hook. Do not remove the brass piece from the hook.

Fill a 1 lb. metal coffee can 1/4 full with ammonia.

Place 2 tbsp. of table salt into a small bowl filled with 1 cup of water. Allow the salt to completely dissolve in the water.

Shove the free end of the hook used to remove the brass piece from the lacquer thinner into the coffee can lid. Place the lid onto the coffee can, making sure that the brass piece does not come in direct contact with the ammonia.

Heat the coffee can with a hair dryer on a “high” setting for two minutes.

Remove the brass piece from the coffee can and quickly dip it into the salt water mixture.

Repeat the process of heating and immersing the brass piece in the salt water until the desired brown patina is achieved.

Pull the coffee lid off and rinse the brass piece with cool water. Allow the piece to dry.

Wipe the brass piece with a soft cloth and cover it with a coat of spray satin lacquer. Allow the piece to dry and add a second coat of the lacquer.

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