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Thread: Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

  1. #1
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    Default Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

    I remember using vinegar to clean pennies as a kid. I tested this on a piece of bronze hardware as the patina was black instead of green. The piece is now pink, rather than the gold-ish color of bronze. It looks more like copper now. Did it leach out some of the metal. Is it structurely weakened? Thanks, Scott

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    Default Re: Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

    This is the first lesson ye should learn: There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, it doesn't behoove any of us to speak evil of the rest of us.
    E. Cayce

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    Default Re: Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

    Um, what are you trying to clean?
    If you have a valuable bronze thing, leave it to the experts.
    Old bronze has a patina that removing might be an expensive mistake.

    Black brass likes a tomato sauce bath.

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    Default Re: Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

    The effects of an acid dip are likely to be surface only and will just give a 'patina'.
    There is a process that can take place over time where brass fastenings in a wooden boat in salt water become a weak copper sponge when the zinc atoms pack up and move away ( Dezincification: http://events.nace.org/library/corro...rms/dezinc.asp ) That is one reason bronze is used instead of brass for fastenings. Bronze is not so susceptible to having a constituent alloy selectively leached/electrolyzed out. Having said that Bronze is a label that covers a lot of territory and some things called bronze may not be and same for brass.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brass
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patina

    Meli has a good point, don't want to take your piece to Antiques Roadshow only to find out that (e.g.) a $1,000,000 bronze gladiator helmet is now only worth $20,000 because you removed the original patina and washed off the blood stains.
    Last edited by George Ray; 10-21-2011 at 07:14 AM.
    This is the first lesson ye should learn: There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, it doesn't behoove any of us to speak evil of the rest of us.
    E. Cayce

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

    Your piece is not likely to be weakened by spending a bit of time in vinegar, but do note that "bronze" can fail and weaken with use and exposure depending on alloy and circumstances. The sea itself is quite acid and in the end all things yield to it. If your piece is weakened through time and use is something nobody here can say without more information, but I suspect is has just gone pink from it's acid bath.

    . We have had many discussions about cleaning bronze here on the forum, but if your piece is a standard bit of marine hardware, I wouldn't sweat the "patina" too much. Many will tell you that cleaning and polishing bronze is a fool's errand and I wouldn't disagree, but if you really want to clean it up, (and I don't get the sense that you are trying to preserve a 2000 year old bronze amphora or an original bust of Caligua) I will link to the absolutely most effective product for accomplishing that.

    Presuming it is a standard piece of naval bronze (of whatever specific construction) then this is your stuff. Wright's is available in many supermarkets or hardware stores and is nothing fancy, just a remarkably effective stripper. Follow the directions and remember to give the piece a thorough rinse with fresh water . It is a stripper, not a polish, so if you are looking for a super high gloss finish you will need to follow it up with the polish of your choice be that Flitz, Never Dull or what-have you. But as a stripper, Wright's is amazing.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

    Thank you all for the responses. The piece was an old turnbuckle. The vinegar actually cleaned it spotless. Was just curious about the resulting pink color. It's been several months now since I did it and and the color has changed at all. Inside, on a shelf, covered by sawdust. Scott

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    Default Re: Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

    Bit of a drift here.
    When I was a kid we used to "clean" pennies with mercury that my brother brought home from chemistry class. They could now be passed off as a ten cent piece so we could buy two chocolate bars for one cent.
    basil

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    Default Re: Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

    Ah mercury! The fun metal that never stops giving!

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    Default Re: Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

    Been using citric acid to clean carbon deposits and such from brass and bronze. The pink stuff is actually copper redeposited on the surface. A little rub with 0000 steel wool with take it right off.

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    Default Re: Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

    Quote Originally Posted by EyeInHand View Post
    Been using citric acid to clean carbon deposits and such from brass and bronze. The pink stuff is actually copper redeposited on the surface. A little rub with 0000 steel wool with take it right off.
    Yep, works a treat!

    So that's what that pink stuff is! Always wondered. As you say, it comes off easily enough.

    And if you're wondering where to find citric acid, suck a lemon (orange juice or lime juice will work as well, but lemon does it best.) Needs to be squeezed from your actual lemon, though. The adulterated stuff won't do much, though you can buy special lemon juice concentrate for cooking purposes which will work ok.
    "The truth shall make ye fret" - Terry Pratchett

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    Default Re: Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

    I was researching this a while ago, how to clean outdoor bronze. Apparently a lot of the bronze statues that you see in front of art galleries are wiped down once in a while with Armorall. Tried it on my bell and it made it nicer looking without ruining the nice brown patina. Just regular Armorall cleaner. you can get it in nice little baby wipes now.
    Freudian slips : when you say one thing but mean your mother.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

    Quote Originally Posted by scottmacc View Post
    I remember using vinegar to clean pennies as a kid. I tested this on a piece of bronze hardware as the patina was black instead of green. The piece is now pink, rather than the gold-ish color of bronze. It looks more like copper now. Did it leach out some of the metal. Is it structurely weakened? Thanks, Scott
    Some copper alloys (bronze, brass) can lose their zinc component and leave the metal looking much more red then normal.
    Catsup or ketchup works great on copper surfaces for cleaning off tarnish so why not bronze?

    I know the link here is about brass but you should read it through: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brass
    Classic Plastic 1967 Tartan 27' with lots of teak, everywhere. ~~/)~~

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    Default Re: Vinegar for Cleaning Bronze?

    Quote Originally Posted by scottmacc View Post
    The piece was an old turnbuckle. The vinegar actually cleaned it spotless. Was just curious about the resulting pink color. It's been several months now since I did it and and the color has changed at all. Inside, on a shelf, covered by sawdust. Scott
    I had a similar result with my bronze turnbuckles and other hardware. I stopped looking at them very soon after I re-rigged the boat (in saltwater environment). Maybe 2 weeks of sailing and they had a nice pateena again. A few months later, they looked similar to how they did when I took them off.

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