How to Quickly Weather or Tarnish Brass

By Jaimie Zinski ; Updated April 12, 2017
Avoid breathing in the ammonia fumes.

Brass is an inexpensive, sturdy alternative to gold and used for several different products, from lamps to jewelry boxes. Overtime, the color of the brass will darken by a process called oxidation. Oxidation naturally over a period of several years as the surface of the brass comes in contact with air. The effects of oxidation are mimicked in a much quicker fashion with the use of readily available chemicals.

Soak a cotton ball with nail polish remover. Rub the surface of the brass piece with the cotton ball. This will remove any protective coating on the brass, which will help speed up the oxidation process.

Create a mixture of one part white vinegar and one part water. Soak a cloth in the mixture and use it to wipe down the brass to remove any remaining dust, dirt or debris.

Locate a bucket with a tight lid. Tie a piece of fishing line around the brass piece. Attach the other end of the fishing line to the inside of the bucket’s lid with a piece of duct tape.

Fill the bucket 1/4 full with ammonia.

Lower the lid onto the bucket, paying attention that the brass piece does not come in contact with the ammonia. If the brass piece is going to reach the ammonia, cut a section off the fishing line.

Close the lid of the bucket tightly and allow the brass to remain inside the bucket for 30 minutes. During this time, the ammonia fumes will darken the surface of the brass.

Remove the bucket’s lid carefully and check the brass. If the desired darkened, weathered color is achieved, remove the piece. If not, continue to allow the brass to remain suspended above the ammonia for 30-minute increments.

Remove the brass piece from the bucket’s lid once the desired color is reached.

Things Needed

  • Cotton ball
  • Nail polish remover containing acetone
  • White vinegar
  • Cloth
  • Bucket with tight lid
  • Fishing line
  • Duct tape
  • Ammonia

Tip

Use ammonia in a well-ventilated area.

About the Author

Residing in Chippewa Falls, Wis., Jaimie Zinski has been writing since 2009. Specializing in pop culture, film and television, her work appears on Star Reviews and various other websites. Zinski is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in history at the University of Wisconsin.