How to Patina Copper Quickly

Written by nadia nygaard
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How to Patina Copper Quickly
Speed up the development of a copper patina with an acidic recipe. (John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

The mottled turquoise, pink, orange and copper effect of an aged copper patina supplies a striking colour combination for use with crafts, home accents and garden projects. Naturally aged copper requires several years and an acidic environment to achieve a patina. When you don't want to wait, try a homemade recipe that attacks the metal, breaking it down so that the patina can form quickly.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Steel wool
  • Spray bottle
  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Clean rag
  • Metal sealant

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  1. 1

    Clean and dry your copper piece using a solution of warm water and mild dish soap. Combine two to three drops of soap to each quart of water.

  2. 2

    Rub off the finish with steel wool. Keep rubbing until your copper is dull in appearance.

  3. 3

    Mix a solution comprised of salt, vinegar and water in a squirt bottle. Combine two parts white vinegar, 1/2 part salt and one part water.

  4. 4

    Spray the solution on the copper piece. You can also wipe the solution on with a clean rag.

  5. 5

    Dry the copper piece in the sun. Be sure not to rinse the solution off before drying.

  6. 6

    Rinse the solution from your copper piece once the colour is to your liking. This process can take anywhere from an hour to a full day, depending on how long it takes for the piece to assume an agreeable patina.

  7. 7

    Seal the patina with a coat of clear metal sealant.

Tips and warnings

  • Apply the solution away from plants.
  • Instead of the salt-vinegar solution, you can also use animal urine to patina the copper. Either collect the urine and spray it on the copper or bury your piece of copper in sawdust soaked with urine.
  • If your copper has been lacquered, you need to remove that layer of lacquer first. Use lacquer thinner applied with a rag.
  • Wear gloves and face protection, and work out of doors as lacquer thinner is very toxic.

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