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topic 1198 p2

How to Darken Copper, Brass or Bronze

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A discussion started in 1997 but continuing through 2018

September 3, 2009

Q. I am working on a "shadow box" for someone who is retiring from the Navy. The shadow box holds a flag and all of the member's medals. Inside the shadow box is a brass plate with all of the tours of duty. Unfortunately it is very hard to read the etching, is there any way to darken the plate so the etching is easier to read?

Shannon Van Meter
Buyer - Ridgecrest California

September 30, 2009

Q. I want to match a new panel I am making with a hammered copper sink already in the room. How can I get the new copper to darken and what kind of wax is best for the finish? I called one company and the process they use on the sinks is "secret".

Lois Campbell
hobbyist - Oswego, New York

August 17, 2010

Q. Hi there, I have a lot of jewelry brass backings and would like to turn them black, but use a safe product so it can be worn against the skin and clothing,
Thanks so much for your help.

Debbie Brown
jewelry maker - New Zealand

September 28, 2010

Q. Hello, I need to darken brass for my work (lamps), but I don't have easy access to the darken-it like products.
Even Palmolive washing liquid is not available here (Indonesia) and they never write the components on detergents.

I tried eggs with very little success and I am looking for some simple way to reach.
Please help me!

FX Hoffman
product designer - Bali, Indonesia

January 23, 2011

Q. Hello ,
Does a blackened brass with Rockler's Darkening solution hold up in a outside weather environment? Thanks!

Ike Sin
- newton, Pennsylvania USA

January 24, 2011

A. Hi, Ike

No, it will probably not hold up outdoors. But you can apply brass lacquer after the darkening, and then it should be okay.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

Brass Lacquer

January 29, 2011

Q. Thank you for the info! A follow up question, is there anything that will darken brass and survive outdoors? Thanks Ike

Ike Sin [returning]
- newton, Pennsylvania USA


A. I'm not sure that we understood each other, Ike. If you blacken it and then lacquer it, it will hold up outdoors for a couple or a few years. The lacquer is easily stripped and replaced.

There are dark "Lifetime Finishes", which you may have seen on door hardware. But these require very expensive PVD (physical vapor deposition) machines, and are applied by OEMs not by consumers.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

sidebar2 March 18, 2011

Q. I have a chandelier made of steel and tubular steel and painted in a pewter color (cold grey/blue tones) with a highly lacquered finish. I'd like to change the finish to bronze (warmer tones) and I have some professionals telling me that it cannot be done over the high lacquer. Do you have any suggestions? Would auto paint cover? It is a detailed fixture and cannot be sandblasted b/c of the wiring.

I appreciate any suggestions.


Lisa Gold
homeowner - Orange, Connecticut

March 21, 2011

A. Hi, Lisa.

Simplest, easiest, cheapest would be the Wax Rub if it works, so I'd try that first. If not, you can try removing the lacquer with lacquer thinner. If that doesn't work you can remove it with the far more powerful Aircraft Stripper, but only outside with good ventilation, not in place. Then you can use one of the fancy paints like American Accents.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

November 9, 2018

Hello all..yes we have such a chemical patina which is sold in kit form to do just this. Please find our Copper Patina Rescue kit at We offer two sizes based on area. Quick and easy to use. Using a hairdryer will speed up the process to dark. Good luck

Barry Feinman

Barry Feinman
supporting advertiser
Carlsbad, California

December 14, 2011

Q. Hi ! I am remodeling and bought wonderful doors at a salvage place. The handles were gold plated. I had the plating and underlying zinc removed leaving very bright brass. I would like to make the brass appear darker with a rosy tone to compliment a chandelier in the room. Is this asking too much ? I would appreciate any advice. Thanks !

Diane Valine
- Rancho Palos Verdes, California, USA

December 18, 2011

A. Hi, Diane.

A wax rub is probably the fastest and easiest route to the color you want while maintaining a real metallic look =>

but the durability of that approach is questionable depending on exactly what you mean by "handles". Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

April 30, 2012

Q. I have a couple of reproduction ancient bronze rings, and would like to put a dark brown patina on them similar to if they were dug up. I have tried liver of sulfur, the liquid form but after wearing them a day or two the patina starts to wear off. Did I not use it correctly, or is there another method to oxidize them?

William Summe
- Griffin, Georgia, USA

May 16, 2012

Q. Hello everyone I read the thread before asking my question. And it was really informative & helpful. My question is how to create a shading effect on Gold Jewelry. One particular one I remember seeing it was a gold flower necklace & the petals had this shading effect from bright gold to dark brown. Any kind of help will be appreciated. Thank You

Viral Soni
- Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

July 10, 2012

Q. Hello everyone,
I have a brass brass plate with lots of holes drilled into it that I would like to get really black. Some of the beams in the plate are as thin as 0.1 mm. We already tried to leave the plate in a solution of 250 g Copper-Hydroxycarbonate and 1 liter of ammonia for 3 hours and overnight. 3 hours wasn't sufficiently dark and the overnight treatment ate away a lot of the fine beams. Could you point me to other treatments or variations which are milder than this but also lead to a strong black? A black deposit on the plate would also work, but I do not know of a process to do this right now.
Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks a lot and best regards,


Andreas Frölich
- Karlsruhe, Germany

December 27, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. How to get the black color on brass using chemicals?

Reza Karimkhan
- Tallahassee, Florida

February 18, 2013

Q. I have a copper weathervane (of a Labrador Retriever) what has turned nearly black, from being outdoors over 4 years. I would like to lighten it and preserve the lighter finish. The surface is 18" x 12", so copper cleaner is taking too long. The natural color is not shiny copper, but somewhat antiqued. What do you recommend? Should I just leave it dark brown?

Jim Carlisle
- Colleyville, Texas, USA

April 14, 2013

A. Easy method for darkening brass:

I wanted to darken my antique brass hardware that had a finish on it. I needed to get the finish off first which I did with fine steel wool after sand blasting. I guess you could use acetone or some kind of paint or finish remover. I tried Palmolive but it didn't work. I ended up using ammonia and it was really simple. I put all my hardware face up on a cookie sheet inside a plastic trash bag. Lay the trash bag on the counter and slide the cookie sheet in. Fill a glass bowl with a couple cups of ammonia. Place the bowl of ammonia in the center of the cookie sheet. I also place a heavy drinking glass upside down in the center of the ammonia bowl to keep the bag up and away from the hardware. This way the fumes from the ammonia was able to circulate. I then tied up the bag and left it over night. In the morning the hardware was perfectly aged. It looks A bit dry so I am going to rub a little polish on it to just liven it up a bit. This method was simple and quick.

Nancy Lucier
- Holland, Massachusetts

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