We all love seeing beautiful brass cookware, radiant pooja thalis, and exquisite décor items adorn our home. But maintaining the antiques and keeping their beauty intact might become a challenge sometimes. For example, think about when you first noticed your favorite brass planter or brass vessel losing its natural color and shine. Brass discoloration is common, but what are the root reasons behind it? Let’s discuss that in today’s blog post.
What Causes Brass to Discolor?
Brass is an alloy that is usually made of 33% zinc and 67% copper. If you keep your brass items in the open air for a long time, the copper present in the alloy (originally dullish golden-yellow) might turn slightly green or brown-green after some time. The green disposition is known as verdigris and the brownish-green oxidation is often referred to as a patina.
There are numerous reasons as to why your piece could show discoloration, from being exposed to humidity or even upon extended use over the decades. Read ahead to know more!
Not Cleaning Brass Objects
Not cleaning your brass objects properly is often a common reason behind discoloration on the surface. Keeping your brass dust and moisture-free is a must, and there are so many ways to do it. For example, you can use a toothbrush to gently clean the small, more delicate objects regularly to avoid dust accumulation.
If you are wet cleaning your items, make sure to use mild dishwashing detergents or natural cleansers such as tamarind pulp. Thoroughly remove all the soap and residues while cleaning it and dry it well, preferable in bright sunlight.
If your vintage or antique brass item shows signs of corrosion, it is best to check with a trained conservator. If your object has a unique finish and surface, only a professional would know the best cleaning solutions to use while also retaining its natural patination.
Abrasions or Denting
Delicate brass objects that have fine detailing can easily be damaged by rough handling and result in denting or abrasions. Brass discoloration is a common result of moisture and dirt accumulation into tiny cracks in the brass. Therefore, delicate handling and cleaning are essential to maintain the durability and shine of your antiques.
If you spot green powdery patches spreading quickly on your brass and bronze object, this is called active corrosion or bronze disease. Waxy or bright green spots are also symbols of active corrosion. These areas are often weak spots on the pieces and can easily break/crack or chip away if not used with care.
Mainly, brass discoloration occurs because of the salt present in the air. However, sometimes it also happens due to improper cleaning or handling of the item. This condition of active corrosion is further heightened by high humidity, grime, and dust as they hold moisture onto the surface of the brass.
Therefore, it is essential to treat them with a delicate hand and ensure the area is dried out and the piece is stored away from moisture.
Safe Discoloration or Oxidation
Safe brass discoloration or oxidation on a brass object looks dark brown or reddish-brown, and it can be seen on a perfectly clean and dry object. Such oxidation is beneficial to the piece and acts as a protective barrier. Blackish or brownish corrosion is often seen on copper and occurs when the object is exposed to air. This can be safely removed with some tamarind pulp or mild detergents.
Is patina the same as oxidation?
Patina refers to the ageing of several metals, woods and even leather goods. It is a form of oxidation that occurs naturally after you have used the item for years and the object is exposed to climate change. Patina results as a process of weathering, oxidation or both, and it alters the appearance of your brass materials.
Once your product comes into contact with weathering agents such as wind, ice, water, extreme rise or fall of temperature, the oxidation process begins.
Ultimately, it leads to the formation of patina- a tarnish on the surface of the brass. In addition to all these, the patina is also a result of ageing, wear and tear, or even polishing. The whole process is referred to as patination.
You might wonder is it safe to use patinated brass cooking pots or utensils? The answer would be YES as long as the process of patination is natural – started as a faint brass discoloration and darkened over the years. However, if your piece is a notable significance of family tradition or inheritance, you should be careful about reversing the damages and preventing it from further deterioration.
Cherish Your Brass Antiques for Lifetime!
The charm of brass objects is truly unmatched! While brass discoloration is common after a few years of using the beautiful kitchen tools or pooja essentials, you can maintain their beauty and radiance with the easy cleaning and maintenance tips mentioned in our blog.
We hope you found the guide helpful in preserving your familial antiques with great love and care. For more useful tips to care for your antiques, keep an eye on our page as we post fresh content every month.