Have you ever wanted to know how to age brass and bronze? If you don’t want to wait for it to age naturally, I’ve got a little trick, using just a couple of household staples; that takes hours — rather than years — to work!
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Aged Brass = Lots of Brass
We’ve been having the kitchen fitted over the last few weeks and I’ve been choosing all the hardware.
I’d set my heart on aged brass handles and knobs. But all of the ones I saw online were so expensive. We’re finally getting to the end of our house renovation and funds are low; especially with Christmas on the horizon! The pre-aged versions were way too much brass for me!
And some of the cheaper aged brass options looked, well, cheap.
In the end, I decided against brass and went for polished bronze kitchen handles from Yesterhome.
I remembered that, years ago, I used to age brass belt buckles using just salt and vinegar; so I decided to apply the same process to the kitchen hardware I’d bought.
It works a treat.
Just one word of warning before you start.
Make sure the brass or bronze that you plan to treat is unlacquered.
If it’s been coated, it won’t work. You’ll have to lightly sand off the surface coating first, using wire wool.
If you’d like to find out how to age brass and bronze with vinegar and salt, just follow these simple steps.
How To Age Brass and Bronze With Vinegar and Salt
You will need:
Household vinegar; white, malt, red/white wine, apple-cider — they all work!
A container with a tight-fitting lid
A paint brush
Wire brush or wire wool
- Pour a little vinegar in the bottom of your container. I never bother to measure how much — it changes depending on the size of the container.
You just need enough to cover the bottom.
2. Add a few pinches of salt. Again — there’s no hard or fast rule for the amount — just add a few sprinkles, then slosh it all around so the salt dissolves in the vinegar.
3. Next, dip your paintbrush in the brass ageing solution and paint it all over the bronze or brass that you’d like to age.
4. When you’ve covered the entire surface with a layer of the salt and vinegar solution, pop the item into your container and put on the lid.
5. Every hour or so, you should turn the item.
Coat it in the salt and vinegar solution and make sure one area isn’t sitting in the solution and turning much darker than the others.
Although, to be honest, I really like the patina that it gives.
6. When you’re happy with the colour and patina of the metal, take it out of the salt and vinegar solution and give it a good rinse under the tap and dry thoroughly.
7. If there are any areas that you’re not happy with, give them a little buff with a wire brush or wire wool.
Some of my handles went quite pink, in areas, but they toned down when I gave them a rub with my wire brush.
And that’s all there is to it.
How to make shiny brass matte in one easy step!
I think it looks absolutely gorgeous! I’m sure there are lots of people who love the shiny brass (or bronze) finish handles on kitchen furniture. But, personally, I love a more lived in, vintage look.
I love our aged bronze and brass handles. The patina goes beautifully with the soft green paintwork of the kitchen cupboards. And also with the faded pink that I’ve used in our guest room.
And I especially love the fact that it barely cost anything.
I’ve read loads of different ways of how to make shiny brass matte; everything from ageing brass with coffee, how to blacken brass by baking in the oven. And, even, ageing brass with oven cleaner.
All of these methods seem questionable to me.
Particularly when I know that the best — and easiest method of how to age brass is the one above.
Super simple. No fuss. And — best of all — it won’t cost lots of brass to do!
Print Or Save ‘How To Tarnish Brass and Bronze With Salt and Vinegar’ For Later
- Household vinegar
- (white, malt, red/white wine, apple-cider — whatever you have in the cupboard!)
- Wire brush or wire wool
- Paint brush
- A container with a tight-fitting lid
- Pour a small amount of vinegar into your container. I never bother to measure an exact amount — it changes depending on the size of the container. You just need enough to cover the bottom.
- Add a few pinches of salt. Again — I never weigh the amount — I just add a few sprinkles, then stir it all around so the salt dissolves into the vinegar.
- Dip a paintbrush into vinegar and salt mix and paint it all over the item that you'd like to tarnish.
- When you've covered the entire surface with a layer of the vinegar solution, pop the brass or bronze item into the jar and put on the lid.
- Turn the item every hour or so, to make sure one area isn't sitting in the liquid. Give it an even coat of vinegar and salt.
- Once the colour and patina of the metal are to your liking, take the item out of the jar and give it a good rinse under the tap. Then dry thoroughly.
Once you've aged your item, if there are any areas that are too dark, give them a little buff with a wire brush or wire wool.
And if some areas are lighter than others, just paint them with the liquid in the areas that need it most then pop the lid back on.
If you don't like how it turns out, just clean it with Brasso to restore the shine!
Some of my handles went quite pink and orange in areas, but they toned down when I gave them a rub with my wire brush.
Caro Davies is a former art-director turned writer and content-creator, and editor behind UK lifestyle blog The Listed Home. She writes about home-related topics, from interiors and DIY to food and craft. The Listed Home has been featured in various publications, including Ideal Home, Grazia, and Homes & Antiques magazines.