Copper is a beautiful and durable material. We love the fact that so many of our outdoor products are fabricated from this brilliant metal! Over time, with constant exposure to the elements, the natural oxidation process will encourage an aqua-tinged patina to form on the surface of your copper feature. This is a really incredible process that we are enthralled with! In fact, a lot of our customers love the old-world look that this coating exudes. However, there are also those that prefer the shimmery, auburn appearance that copper is known for, and we certainly have a soft spot for this as well.
It's important to know that a patina is actually a protective layer that is effected by time and place. It is not a flaw or a defect by any means. The longer a copper feature is subject to Mother Nature, the more widespread the patina will be. In addition, the surrounding environment has an effect on the color and thickness of this coating. Chloride, for example, creates a patina that is a vibrant, minty green and allows copper to show through to some extent. Nitrates (such as those associated with acid rain) will produce a darker green color with bluish hues. Each coating is unique to the surface it forms on and cannot be duplicated, no matter how hard you may try! While this antique look is sought after by architects and designers alike, there are many people who would rather gaze at the gleaming luster of copper in its youthful form.
When you add a copper feature to your landscape, whether it be a pool scupper, a fire bowl, or a copper water fountain, we have some simple ways to maintain the copper's original sheen. Keep in mind, there are some keys to getting rid of any type of tarnish, but they must be used in a harmonious nature:
- acidic properties
- abrasive properties
- "a gentle touch" (such as a micro-fiber towel, non-scratch cleaning pad, or soft-bristled brush)
- While it will be necessary to scrub away a patina that has already formed, you don't want to be so assertive with your cleaning method that you scratch the surface of your outdoor feature.
Now let's take a look at some combinations of seven everyday "staples" you probably have inside your pantry or fridge right now that you can use as cleaners!
Ketchup. Or catsup - whichever you prefer! This delectable condiment requires no mixing - it's an all-in-one cleaner, so to speak! The acidic ingredients found in ketchup are vinegar and tomatoes, while the added salt serves as a mild abrasive. Simply apply a thin layer to your copper item and allow it to sit for 3 minutes. Give it a gentle scrubbing with a soft bristled brush; then wash the ketchup away with warm water and towel dry. Voila! Good as new! (We suggest using this product for maintenance of copper, rather than removal of a patina.)
Vinegar, Table Salt, & Flour. Combined, they make a terrific cleaning solution for hard to remove tarnish. The acidic properties of vinegar gently strip away the tarnish while the salt removes build-up and grime beneath the outer layer. Simply add 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of vinegar and gently scrub with a soft-bristle brush or non-scratch cleaning pad. (If you are going to use sea-salt, you may want to muddle it just a bit to cut down on the size of the crystals. Remember that we are using a gentle touch to clean our beloved copper!)
To make a paste, simply add flour until the desired thickness (pancake batter consistency) occurs. Apply to your copper item and allow the paste to sit for 15-60 minutes (depending on how thick or widespread the patina is). Using a non-scratch pad or soft bristled brush, gently scrub the surface until the coating and any grime is gone. When you're done cleaning, simply rinse well with warm water and towel dry.
If you have a larger area to maintain (or even some spot cleaning to do), you'll need to adjust the measurements listed above accordingly.
Lemon Juice & Baking Soda. No vinegar on hand? Short on table salt? No problem! Lemon juice is a terrific substitute in this case, and baking soda is a great alternative to salt.
Olive Oil. This last item is used after you have cleaned your copper bowl, fountain, or scupper. It will put an impressive shine on the freshly cleaned surface, as well as help to protect and enhance it. Simply dispense the olive oil onto a microfiber sham and work it into the copper for a beautiful, glossy appearance!
Using commercial cleaning products is a harsh way to maintain your outdoor landscape features. We always recommended using the least intrusive manner to care for and maintain your investments, and we approve the use of products that are natural and chemical-free (as well as affordable)! These everyday pantry items are definitely a hit with us!