A Guide to Cleaning and Aging Copper Plant Pots

A Guide to Cleaning and Aging Copper Plant Pots

Copper is a versatile material, it can be polished and kept shiny or left to oxidise and develop a bronzed patina. If treated in a particular way and antiqued, it can be made to develop the converted verdigris patination (like the Statue of Liberty). Here are some products that can help in all these regards, together with links to buy from Amazon.

To remove oxidisation or regular tarnish from the environment, there are several options, ranging from free to expensive.

1. Firstly, a simple kitchen scourer can be used to mechanically remove grub. This however will leave a brushed or satin finish to the copper. This may not be the right choice for antique objects or where you want a high gloss finish.

Buy here: https://amzn.to/4bG96Ku 

ScotchBrite for cleaning copper

2. A free and easy solution to remove tarnish is simple salt and vinegar. Take an egg cup of vinegar and dissolve into it half a teaspoon of table salt and apply it to the copper. You will see the tarnish vanish almost instantly. Be careful though, if this mixture is left on for too long, it will start to eat into the metal and accelerate corrosion towards verdigris. You can wash off the salt and vinegar with mild soapy water.

3. For the Copper and Green plant pots and planters, when a shiny finish is required 'Peek' is used. Peek is a product that cleans, polishes and protects copper. It si rubbed on with one cloth and buffed off with another.

It is available here: https://amzn.to/3K9wmEV

Peek for cleaning copper

4. Brasso is a common metal cleaner kept in many homes. Like Peek, it is rubbed on and off to remove oxidisation and protect the copper. Unlike Peek, it does not contain a mild abrasive so you will need to rub a little harder to remove stubborn stains.

You can find Brasso here: https://amzn.to/4dJU4Ft

Brasso for cleaning copper


5. To protect copper from oxidisation in a non-aggressive chemical, non-abrasive way, a micro-crystalline wax can be used. The best known example is Renaissance Wax. Renaissance Wax is used by museums and galleries for conservation of artefacts as it provides a neutral barrier between the object and its environment. Copper and Green copper pots are typically shipped with a covering of such a wax.

Renaissance Wax can be purchased here: https://amzn.to/44PsceW

6. To advance the aging process of copper, there are several solutions. As above, household salt and vinegar can be used. Instead of cleaning it off, once it has dissolved the oxidation, it can be left on to change the surface colouration of the metal. It is best to test with a watered down solution, maybe on the base of a pot, to judge the effect. Stronger solutions and longer exposure to the metal will have a more dramatic effect. You can try spraying it on and leaving it over night.

7. Liver of sulphur is used by professional jewellery designers to obtain a darkened or rainbow patina on metals. You should experiment with a test patch on your copper plant pot to ensure you get the effect you require.

There are several manufactures which can be found on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3yzYBKm 


8. Ammonia is another option for aging copper. It can be purchased in its pure form or you can find it in proprietary copper aging products. You should be very careful with using this product and read any instructions provided before use. Ammonia can be irritating to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. It should be used with caution as it can form toxic gases if mixed with other household cleaning chemicals such as bleach.

Buy ammonia from Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3WJCvzl

This above list a brief guide to products that can be used to preserve, protect, polish and age copper. Copper is such a versatile material it can be treated to change appearance to suit every home and garden.

Lastly, other things to try:

  • Taking a pot to the seaside and put it in the sea, let it dry out naturally
  • Rub a copper pot with fruit juice
  • Briefly heat with a blow torch and see the rainbow effect. Don't heat for too long - else the solder will melt.

Any feedback on this article or further ideas are welcome and can be submitted via the contact form on this site.

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