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How to Polish Brass and Copper

Brass, Copper and Bronze are some of the warmest, most polishable metals, giving beautiful results every time..... but only if these metals are polished right!

So lets get the "do nots" out into the open and explain the true benefits of using the best brass polish you can find!

1. Do not scour your brass with wire or steel wool, nylon or plastic dish cleaners or other severe abrasives, brass and copper is relatively soft and while bronze is much harder, there is no need for it as this is not the way to treat antique objects. If the oxidization or tarnish is severe then the Briliant metal restorer should be applied first, as this will then prepare your Brass and copper for the second stage and final polishing using our Brass and Copper polish.

2. Do not use polishes or cleaners that contain ammonia or anhydrous products. It was recently discovered these chemicals cause etching, cracking, fissures and premature aging of soft alloys especially brass, bronze and copper. Many accepted and long established named products use these as antioxidants. Read the label or smell it. Just because the manufacturer says it is a polish for brass doesn't mean it won't damage it in the long term.  One of the major signs that there is a problem is when a polish states that it is not recommended for use on aluminum or any other pure metal. (  Briliant Brass Polish can be used on any metal including plated surfaces or precious metals ) Many of the most established products in the world are now banned from use in federally funded establishments and international museums. Anhydrous solvents when used will readily dissolve Zinc, a component of Brass, which is also used in many other metals to reduce oxidization. Plus anhydrous and ammonia based polishes deteriorate so fast the finish will be dull again in weeks. That is how many of these manufacturers resell their polishes.

3. Don't use a polish that contains a vegetable based wax, such as bees wax or carnauba. All vegetable based waxes are acidic and attack what they are supposed to protect. They are also porous so oxidization happens underneath them.

4. Don't use lacquers, clearcoats or glazes to protect your brass unless it is exposed to very severe conditions such as a marine environment. It shouldn't be necessary.

5. Don't pass your freshly finished work for everybody to admire without picking it up in a cloth. Sweat will attack the preserving waxes and they will slowly get removed.

6. If your workpiece is already bright and has some reasonable degree of mirror then just use our Brass & Copper Polish, of course if it's heavily tarnished then use the Briliant metal restorer first.

OK....... Enough of that and on with the job of polishing brass and copper.

Polishing Brass, Copper and Bronze

This is just an overview of a much more in-depth approach to the subject, which you can read here.

Brass can suffer heavily through handling. Because it's not silver or gold, it tends to be very neglected. But what a beautiful metal! When it's properly polished and maintained by Briliant Brass an Copper Polish it has such a bright glow this makes brass give up a radiant beautiful lustre that can last for many months and even years in a Museum envronment.

Again if you want to save on polish you can often remove bad oxidization with LEMON JUICE, or Vinegar, either of which will do the trick. Don't forget to rinse it off really well though, or dip the item in a solution of water and sodium Bicarbonate to neutralize the acid.

Copper, the perfect complement to brass, and beautiful in its own right. I don't understand people who get gleaming pieces of copper and have it artificially aged! I want to polish it every time I see it - that green oxidization drives me crazy. If it's really bad we nuke the oxidization with a mild acid solution, again vinegar does a fine job. Being a relatively soft metal, polish with our Briliant Jewellers Rouge to achieve the ultimate lustre. Briliant Brass Polish is also good on copper but is better suited to brass, bronze, stainless steel, nickel and chromium.

Bronze - the Boatman's metal, though being replaced more and more these days by stainless. Really severe oxidization I have been known to nuke with Muriatic acid. If you do this don't forget to have the sodium bicarbonate ready in order to prevent etching. Then wash off really fast, and neutralise with sodium bicarbonate. Normally exposed to the elements, nothing protects it against the salt air like laquer, I am sorry to say (only because I hate having to remove it for repolishes!). But the difference in life span between a lacquered finish or waxed finish leaves only the one choice. A urethane clearcoat. If the item is ornamental and not on a boat, our liquid Briliant Brass & copper polish and Renaissance wax will give it all the protection it needs.