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"Getting copper pipe to turn green"

Current question and answers:

December 10, 2016

Q. I have a small tube of copper, about an inch and a half long and about and inch and a quarter in diameter. I'd like to give it a nice green with some bit of "pop" but don't really want to spend much money because I know there are certain chemical reactions that come out gorgeously. So my question is as such, how could I get a vibrant green on a small piece of copper with household chemicals?

Tyler Pry
- Lander wyoming usa

March 2, 2017

A. Try this site it gives a whole load of information on patinas.

Robin Sebastian
- Kochi Kerala India

February 18, 2019

A. I used rhododendron fertilizer and it worked great.

Corey Scheffler

May 8, 2019

A. I made some wind chimes from 28 mm (1") copper pipe, carefully cut and tuned to give eleven different notes all in harmony. I then wanted to artificially age them. I obtained a pleasing bluish green quickly by using a thin paste made from soldering flux, salt and a little vinegar. This "paint" was applied daily for about a week, some areas receiving extra if the colour was not developing as well as I wanted. It is a bit variable and patchy but I never cleaned the pipes before treating as I did not want a uniform finish. The patina has worn off where the pipes are struck by the wooden strikers but the rest has been extremely durable and has only improved over the last seven years or so since I made them. The colour fades a little towards brown oxidised copper when wet but returns as the chimes dry.

Nigel Long
- Peterborough UK

April 6, 2021

We use Liver of Sulfur. Has anyone tried this? Clean copper turns a beautiful blue-green color.

Beverly Skornik
- Fredericksburg Texas

Previous closely related Q&A's, oldest first:


Q. I am making a deck railing of cedar and 1/2" copper pipe. I would like the pipe to turn green without waiting 20 years. Any suggestions on what I could brush on the pipe to get it to turn green?

Patrick Q [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Juneau, Alaska

Jax Green Patina


A. Hello Patrick,

Here's a patina formula I found online that will give copper that bluish-green antique look you desire: Take 8 ounces of salt and 8 ounces of ammonium chloride and mix them with a quart of vinegar. Mix in a half ounce of ammonia when you are ready to put it on the copper. Spread it on with a soft brush and let it sit for 24 hours. If you want it darker, repeat the formula and let it sit another 24 hours. When it's done and has sat for a full day, wash it down and protect it with wax or lacquer.

Good luck,

Jake Koch
G. J. Nikolas &Co.,Inc.
supporting advertiser
Bellwood, Illinois

nikolas banner ad


A. In the summertime, spray it with a spritz bottle with a mixture of salt, vinegar and water every morning and night. Green in about 2 weeks. When you get the green you like, rinse it with a hot water spray twice a day for a week. Then polish it with felt or canvas and wax it.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


A. To turn copper green spray with 1/2 strength Muriatic Acid [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] . Sprinkle with kosher salt. Place in sun. With in 24 hours it will look like 100 years old.

Thomas A [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- MC FARLAND, Wisconsin

Aged green color for copper overhangs


Q. I am trying to age the copper on the overhangs of my house by turning them from what now looks like a dirty copper color to and age green color. I have seen several suggestions for doing so: muriatic acid, ammonium chloride and vinegar, and something called patina. Can I get some advice on what would work best?

Bryan H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
home maintenance - Mount Laurel, New Jersey


Q. Bryan H of Mount Laurel, NJ asked a question regarding the best way to turn his copper house overhangs to an aged green color. There was no response to his question. I am also looking for the best solution to this problem. Is there an appropriate answer?

Esta S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Los Angeles, California


A. Hello Esta. It's a public forum where anyone is welcome to respond. The question has already been "sorta" answered with three different solutions; but the exact response that you and Bryan request would require you to supply a detailed list of exactly what comprises "better" for you (how important is safety to pets, compared to cost, compared to speed of results, compared to labor hours, compared to exact shade, etc.) so let's turn our noses up at the other two of the three good Samaritans who helped :-)

... But we can list some advantages/disadvantages by saying that muriatic acid is very dangerous stuff that must be treated with great respect, so it has that downside. And commercial patinas have the great advantage that they are formulated for the exact purpose, after a good deal of research and experiment, so they ought to be "best" in functionality -- but they are probably quite expensive compared to household chemicals. Best of luck!

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


thumbs up signThanks Ted, I did see and appreciate the helpful answers of the "Samaritans" who did respond. But like Bruce H of Laurel, N.J., I was hoping to hear from someone who had tried at least a couple and found one better than the others. Guess, I'll have to try them all myself!

Esta S [returning]
- Los Angeles, California

Ed. note: Sorry to put you to the work of testing more than one, but if you do, please come back and tell us your results, Esta. Thanks.

2005 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have a large copper job to do and I know there is a chemical reaction that will make the copper green without having to wait for the elements.

Teresa C [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
fabrication student - Powder Springs, Georgia


A. May sound crazy, but I used Miracle-Gro diluted w/ water on my copper bays and it worked. It's much safer, easier and better for the environment than muriatic acid.

Steph West
- Boston, Massachusetts

Miracle Grow

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(we earn a commission on whatever you buy after clicking)

September 12, 2010

Q. I'm trying to patina some copper and am not having very much luck - I even tried urine! It produced a peacock blue color but it washed away. I've read in two places that Miracle-Gro works =>
but was curious if Miracid would work better? Isn't acid the thing you need to do the job? Thanks! Good column!

candy walter
- chapel hill North Carolina

November 2, 2010

A. Miracle-Gro for African Violets in a liquid form is GREAT! =>
I brushed (like I was painting) on the copper and it turned a lovely green the sunny day after I finished the job!
Thank you for the tip, Steve.

Lillian Satterfield
- Marietta, Georgia

March 15, 2010

Q. To achieve the antique green finish we love from ancient buildings, my ex. told me the workmen would urinate on it, and apparently it worked a charm. I am not prepared to do this on my vertical copper siding cladding two bay windows.

The several suggestions you have posted are all so different. Wish someone could recommend a sure-fire step-by-step procedure I could depend on.

Thanks, winona

winona gallop
- Toronto, Ontario

March 2010

A. Now, Winona. Your ex gave you a very attractive answer, and it sounds like, instead of simply climbing a ladder at night and doing it, you're working hard to find some trivial objection just to pique him :-)

Seriously, people have related some success stories with salt + ammonium chloride + vinegar, and salt+vinegar, and muriatic acid + kosher salt, and Miracle-Gro. If you have time to search the site you'll find dozens more threads on patinating copper, with still more approaches like ammonia. There is unfortunately no way to say which approach is "best" or most "surefire". The ease of different approaches will vary, and the speed, the safety, the exact color, the smoothness; the pattern will vary with some people preferring perfect uniformity and others wanting variegation. the durability will vary -- and it will remain a matter of opinion whether these approaches, or commercial patina solutions, or urination is "best" :-)

But are you positive that you have real copper, not copper colored aluminum? Sadly, sure-fire is impossible unless you can tell us exactly what copper alloy was used on your windows, what heat treatment sequence was performed, what mechanical preparation and sanding/buffing the manufacturer used, what type and brand of brass lacquer, epoxy, polyurethane or other clear coat they applied, and a dozen other questions we consumers are not privy to.

The closest we can come to step-by-step is to say that you must first remove whatever clearcoat is protecting the copper. Try lacquer thinner [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] first. If that doesn't work, you will have to use Aircraft Stripper, which is terribly toxic and noxious stuff requiring goggles [affil. link to info/product on Amazon], Rubber Gloves [affil. link to info/product on Amazon], and outstanding ventilation. After you have bare copper, please pick whichever approach sounds most authoritative or promising to you, and odds are it will work just fine. Very best of luck!


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 10, 2010

You are right. Cannot answer all these questions. I do however know this is REAL copper. Saw it being installed, and know from the bank I needed to rob to pay for it, that it is the real thing. I am still pondering these various options. Muriatic acid is not on my list...too toxic, but all the others will be tried and I will keep you posted. winona

Winona Gallop
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada

June 2, 2011

A. I am an artist and use small bits of copper sheet and wire. I don't have a standard recipe but have found that hot sauce works well. I had several bottles of old Tabasco in the kitchen and that seems to work well. Experiment. Have fun!

Benny Church
- Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Miracle-Gro for copper roof

Miracle Grow

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(we earn a commission on whatever you buy after clicking)

October 23, 2011

!. Miracle-Gro African Violet Liquid Food =>
diluted is the safe way to go... It was actually used in the Statue of Liberty restoration work. It was used to get the replaced copper to match the existing green copper.

Paul Varino
- Union, New Jersey, USA

October 24, 2011

Thanks, Paul, that's very interesting! Can you possibly provide a reference?


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 10, 2015


SportsMed - San Francisco, California

May 11, 2016

Q. Several folks have suggested Miracle Gro for African Violets.
You may not be aware that Miracle Gro no longer makes that product. Others did not specify that specific type of Miracle Gro. Thus my question is what type of Miracle Gro product works well besides the now unavailable African Violet?

One additional question:
After applying Miracle Gro a few times, why does the patina vanish once the rain wets the surface. After the rain dries the patina returns.
Is there something that can be done to maintain the patina color even when the roof has gotten wet?

Thank you

Gary Cozen
- pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA

A. Hi Gary. Part of the coloration on copper, like the verdigris, is actual pigment. But part of the color, especially the iridescent appearance, is diffraction effects where part of the light bounces off the topmost tarnish or oil, and part of the light penetrates it and bounces off the substrate, causing interference colors. Think of the rainbow effect of a drop of oil in a puddle -- which is the same effect (oil isn't rainbow colored, it's interference coloration).

When you put any additional clear material on top, whether water or wax or lacquer, it can cancel those colors because the topmost reflective surface is now greater than a wavelength away from the substrate reflective surface.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 18, 2016

A. So instead of Miracle-gro I just used Copper sulphate (I get it in the gardening section with the other fertilizers, etc.). I am fairly sure it's the active ingredient in Miracle gro as I have substituted it many times in Jewellery work like electroforming, e. and looks the same. My copper jewellery goes very blue with just plain copper sulphate :)
Good luck!

Rose Hensley
- sydney, Nsw, Australia

June 15, 2016

Q. Think about this!

I have an application of copper out in the weather for the past 15 years. It's real copper because I cut it and installed it, put it up using copper nails. It turned brown on me so I waited and waited ... and did so for about 10 years ... it's still brown. So looked at your web site and they really are still suggesting the same mixture as they were when I put it up and nothing happened. Did it again same formula with maybe a little various measurements and still nothing. Recently was inspecting and some of the sheets were starting to pucker so I still had new copper nails and tacked the sheets down. Then once again put on the formula and the new nails turn green within 4 hours. Rest of it is still brown. How about some wisdom?

bill tinsley
- sacramento, California

June 16, 2016

A. Your brown color is the surface of your copper that probably now is one form of copper oxide which can vary from an off red to brown to black.
To have gotten it to a green, you might have had success with daily misting with a salt solution.
The brown oxide will not dissolve in water. To remove it, you might try ammonia. I suspect that it will take several applications.
Other things that might remove it are normally dangerous.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

July 30, 2016

Hi.. I got some copper sulphate from Bunnings, what is the powder/water ratio to get small pieces of copper pipe to go green - thanks :)

Sonja Walters
- Sydney NSW Australia

December 2, 2016

Q. I am trying to use miracle grow to turn some small decorative copper brackets green, but I can't get it to adhere--It just beads up on the copper and I end up with little spots of color. I've tried cleaning the copper with vinegar and strong soap without success. Any ideas?

Joelynne Walters
- Oakland, California, USA

December 30, 2016

A. About using MiracleGro for green copper patina, yes, it works!
Paint it on thick -- make it a paint-like substance with a little water ... needs nice bright sunshine to dry -- a nice patina of green always looks different while it is raining, but it will come back to green patina when sun comes out. Give it a try.

Susan Santore
Artist/Beader - Costa Mesa, California USA

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