How to Tarnish Brass

Written by elizabeth stephens
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How to Tarnish Brass
Add a tarnished quality to brass. (brass handle image by hazel proudlove from

Warm brass fixtures add a sense of style to a room. New brass, however, can look glitzy fresh off the assembly line, without the warmth and character that you're looking for in your craft or decor. It's simple to add depth and complexity to shiny new brass with the help of any number of darkening solutions on the market.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Soap
  • Water
  • Nail polish remover (acetone)
  • Cotton balls
  • Darkening solution
  • Soft rag (chamois is ideal)
  • Dust sheet
  • Rubber gloves
  • Polyurethane spray (optional)

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  1. 1

    Thoroughly clean the items to tarnish with soap and water, wiping off any dirt or smudges. Prepare your area by laying out a dust sheet.

  2. 2

    Strip the sealant from your brass object, if it has one. Put on your rubber gloves. Dip a cotton ball in the nail polish remover and wipe the brass gently to remove the sealant. Repeat as necessary. Many new brass objects have a sealant to protect against oxidation and tarnish.

  3. 3

    Apply the brass darkening solution to your soft cloth. Test on a small area of the brass until you are able to achieve the desired darkness. Rub the soaked cloth into the piece. For darker tarnish, immerse the item you are tarnishing in the solution or continue to apply several coats of the solution with the cloth.

  4. 4

    Halt the tarnishing process by spraying the dry, tarnished piece with the polyurethane spray. Lay out the item(s) on your dust sheet. Shake the can of spray thoroughly for 2 to 3 minutes. Hold the can at least 12 inches away from the items and spray gently, moving your hand consistently until the item is coated. Repeat as you like.

Tips and warnings

  • Carefully read the instructions for ventilation for the acetone, darkening solution and polyurethane spray. All of these items need to be used properly, preferably out of doors, to avoid harm.

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