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Create patina on pewter


Q. I am a collector of antique beer steins. Most steins have pewter lids and thumb lifts. Occasionally, I'll find an antique where someone has cleaned the natural patina from the pewter. Antique stein collectors prefer the age-showing dull look. A shiny lid just doesn't look right on an old antique. Is there a simple method for a hobbyist to get natural patina back onto pewter (without waiting another 100 years)?

I've seen some other posts here and a book was recommended. If a book has this solution, I wouldn't mind purchasing it. Can anyone direct me further?


Jody Wyse
- Inman, South Carolina


A. The book you've seen recommended here is for patination of copper and brass, not pewter. But check out letter 12714. Although it's about silver, not pewter, I'd conjecture that the sulphide from eggs will tarnish pewter too.

Ted Mooney   Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Pewter Studio: Contemporary Projects & Techniques


A. You can use this solution for black coloring of tin and pewter: 200 gm. iron chloride, water 1 lit. The article is immersed in solution!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia


A. Instead of solution from my first letter (which is simple and ingredient is easy available) you can try one of these two recipes:

molybdenic acid........7,5 gm
ammonium chloride.....30 gm
H2O..........1 lit.
Hot immersion(60-80 °C)

black for tin 2
bismuth nitrate........5 gm
nitric acid..........50 ccm
tartaric acid.........80 gm

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

November 4, 2014

Q. To be clear, Is the chemical Goran Budija refers to in his solution iron(II) chloride or iron(III) chloride?

Chad Davis
- Columbus, Ohio, USA


A. Hi I just saw your question on patinas for pewter. I have successfully used a product called Novacan Black patina =>
It is a product used in the stained glass field to darken the came. It comes in a form for tin based metals and for lead based metals. Choose what is appropriate for your use. I just finished a pewter sculpture today and painted it on, rinsed it off and went over where I wanted my highlights with a 0000 steel wool [linked by editor to product info at Rockler] pad. I came out BEAUTIFUL!

Good luck I hope this helps. It sure beats trying to mix your own!

Cindy Brown
- Arlington, Virginia

Novacan Black Patina for Zinc

September 28, 2008

Q. I read the recent posts on creating a black patina on Pewter with interest. I am looking to create other colors as can be done on copper with livers of sulphur and other chemicals. Does anyone have experience with other patination processes on Pewter?

I am a wood turner who is beginning to incorporate metals in my turnings. So far I have been using leaf; both copper and silver and patinizing them with quite nice results. I am hoping to get a dark and lustrous effect with some coloration using pewter.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Bradford Chaucer
wood turner, metal worker artisan - Sneads Ferry, North Carolina, United States

October 1, 2008

A. Hi, Bradford. I'm not sure that there are "colorful" patinas for pewter. That is, there may be no reagents that will turn the metals in pewter red or green or blue. I believe that what is often done instead is the article is "painted" with a copper-based patinating solution.


Ted Mooney,   Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

October 4, 2008

Q. Thank you Ted. By painting with a copper based patinating solution do you mean the paints that have an acrylic base with copper particles in suspension that come in various grades of copper? I understand that they can be chemically colored while still wet (not totally dried)

Bradford J. Chaucer
- Sneads Ferry, North Carolina

October 12, 2008

A. Hi, Bradford. That may work just fine, but what I was actually referring to was copper-based patina solutions like Jax -->

Good luck.


Ted Mooney,   Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Jax Green Patina

June 29, 2010

Is the "Novacan Black Patina for Zinc" suitable for jewelry? In other words, is there any health risk that would make it unsuitable for use on jewelry?

Tony Kopari
- Mapleton, Minnesota, USA

April , 2013

Hi Tony. The MSDS (material safety data sheet) should help you on that question, but I think the actual issue is that unplated zinc is not a very satisfactory material for jewelry because of its susceptibility to corrosion from fingerprints and sweat.


Ted Mooney,   Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 1, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Can anyone tell me how to chemically produce a bronze patina on white metals including pewter and can one darken them with liver of salts or other chemicals?

Mic Weiss
sculpter - London, UK

March 5, 2012

A. Try next download free booklet on metal colouring and plating, there you can find some pewter and tin coloring formulas: Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

June 6, 2012

thumbsup2Goran Budija Thank you SO much for this information! Something I have been needing for years.

Curt Hanthorn
- Spring Hill, Florida, USA

March 7, 2012

This looks pretty comprehensive
I will test this over the next few months
many thanks

Mic Weiss
- London, UK

May 6, 2013

Q. I tried to clean a Pewter bowl with a smooth rubbing compound. The satin silver finish has turned a gold colour and the more I try the more the silver surface is replaced by a gold colour.

Grand Hotel - St. Germain-des-pres 1 Grand Hotel - St. Germain-des-pres 2

I understood that Pewter was mainly tin. How is it possible that it turns a gold colour.

Why the sensitivity about using special preparations to maintain the surface. You would do this with aluminum and it is close to being as soft.

Steve Mileman
- South Africa

May 6, 2013

A. Hi Steve. My question is why do you assume that the bowl is made of pewter? It seems to me that it is made of brass with nickel or tin plating which the cleaning has removed. You could try rubbing it with a silvering compound; =>

if it is brass, then silver should adhere to the yellowish area. If it does, you would have the option of rubbing off the existing finish and redoing it with the silvering compound. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,   Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Electroless Liquid Silver

May 7, 2013

Q. Dear Ted, thank you for your prompt response. This is how it happened:

The "Pewter" piece was delivered with some finger prints on the surface. The instructions were to clean the satin finish with soap and water.

After the first attempt at cleaning the fingerprint off was unsuccessful, I examined it and was reminded of a fingerprint in wet varnish. Some rubbing with Brasso took the print off but exposed a shiny penny-sized area where the print had been. Rubbing the spot made it shinier still. (The first photo)

A light water paper took the silver surface off and exposed a bronze colour beneath. Other than Brasso at first, no other chemicals were used. Of course you shouldn't use Brasso and water paper except in forensic instances.

On closer examination now, there is certainly a clear varnish sprayed on top which is now exposed in places. It must be a cheaper option. But I could find nothing about this problem on the web.

Steve Mileman
- South Africa

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