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topic 1198p4

How to Darken Copper, Brass or Bronze

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A discussion started in 1997 but continuing through 2020

February 17, 2016

Q. I used the Birchwood Casey Perma Blue to get a dark patina on 385 bronze. It worked great. This was after trying liver of sulfur without much success. My question is should I now apply a clear coat lacquer? Or will it maintain the patina without the coating. The material is being used as a trim between a existing backsplash and new black granite counter.

Thank you

Stephen Von Ohlen
- Carlstadt New Jersey USA

August 31, 2016

Q. Once I am finished changing my shiny brass patio door levers to an oil rubbed bronze finish, don't I need to apply a permanent protective coating or lacquer to the metal? They are used daily and exposed to the elements. If so, what would I use? Thanks

Jane Lockwood
- Plainwell Michigan United States

April 19, 2017

A. Researching historical metal processes, I came across the following 19th century references on Google Books for bronzing formulations. While modern products may be more efficient, those wishing to replicate the old finishes will hopefully find these helpful.

The last is a French treatise with several formulations for the famous French green bronze coating. You can copy and paste into Google Translate.

Craig Sholley
- Carlisle, Pennsylvania USA

April 2017

thumbs up signThanks for the great references Craig!

The French book displays as pictures of text, rather than as cut&paste-able text; I do see a way of translating it (first download the book as plain text, then copy and paste the plain text into, but if someone knows a simpler way we'd like to post it. Thanks again!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

January 31, 2017

Q. Hi, We purchased this Weslock handle in the oil rubbed bronze,however did not realize this had more red tones that would not match our door. What is the easiest way to darken this to a more bronze/brown color? Will using Palmolive work? Thank you...

peggy leung
- Torrance, California

March 26, 2017

Q. Hi,

Hi. would it be possible to darken the copper color on this lamp? It's Brushed and anodised aluminium.

Kind Regards

Clara Nolan
- dublin, ireland

April 2017

A. Hi Clara. As you already recognize, this lamp is made of aluminum. Therefore, the chemical methods which are the subject of this thread won't work because there's no copper, brass, or bronze for the chemicals to react with.

You can either paint it or apply a wax rub or "paint on" a patina (a liquid which has the oxidized copper you seek). My experience with the wax rubs is that they are okay if the surface is not a touchable one, which seems to be the case here. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

affil. link
"Patinas for Silicon Bronze"
by Patrick V. Kipper
from Abe Books
info on Amazon

June 14, 2017

Q. I recently bought a bronze vase its 19th century but it looks like brass how do I get the dark patina back on it? Many thanks in anticipation.

Mark manning
- Leeds Yorkshire england

July 13, 2017

Q. I have blackened brass cabinet hardware that the blackening has worn off, especially the handle on the refrigerator. How can I get the blackened appearance back? I was going to try liver of sulfur and than lacquer them again, but is there any other process I can do?

Cher Eppinga
womens touch paint and design - Evergreen, Colorado

August 25, 2017

Q. Very interesting thread and happy to keep it running. I vape an e-cig which is full copper for it's conductivity. Being a bit picky I prefer a darker coloured copper than the bright finish I have now. My question is simply can I safely darken the copper whilst keeping it shiny? And is it a process that needs to be regularly repeated. I'm UK based so would have to use something considered 'safe'.

Again, interested in a lot of what I've read here (and found by accident!!).

Andrew Jones
- Manchester, UK

November 2, 2017

Q. I just bought a vintage dark brown distressed leather sofa that has hundreds of brass nail heads way too shiny for our taste. How do I darken them, without taking them off or damaging the leather. Thanks in advance for any advice.

Letty dupree
- Atlanta, Georgia USA

November 2017

A. Hi Letty. That's really not so much a technical question (because you've already read that liver of sulphur, Rockler brass darkening solution, and several other materials will darken brass), as a question of whether you have the time & temperament, and the steadiness of hand to carefully apply it to "hundreds of brass nail heads" with an artists brush, covering each completely, without getting it on the leather. Further, if they're bright, they probably have a lacquer on them which you'd have to remove the same way first. There's an old saying that you'd need the patience of a saint.

Or just tape the open end of a plastic sandwich with a crushed hard boiled egg in it over one of the nail heads overnight and tell us what, if anything, happens. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

How to darken copper but not brass

affil. link
Mokume Gane
by Ian Ferguson
from Abe Books
info on Amazon


November 6, 2017

Q. Hi ... thanks for a great thread. I just recently made a patterned (Mokume Gane) metal surface with copper and brass. I had been searching for a way to darken the copper but not the brass. The only thing I have found is by using a heat patina. Can the brilliant contributors here suggest a chemical solution? Thanks so much!


Barbara Hopkins
- South Berwick, Maine

November 2017

A. Hi Barbara. I don't know what the article in question is, but can you try Rokushno patina on it and see whether it offers suitable/any contrast? Or maybe you can darken the whole thing and burnish/relieve the brass?


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

July 25, 2018

Q. Hi along these lines, I just had some medals cast in bronze and they are much lighter than my other medals which look aged and dark brown. Does Palmolive darken bronze too? Thanks!

Jean Mark
- Sacramento, California USA

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

Restore graduated blackening on bronze bowl

September 6, 2019

Q. I have a patinated bronze bowl, the natural colour of which is amid yellow brown, graduated brown to deep black -- but the colour appears to be flaking but without thickness and its spoiling its appearance. I would like to revive and restore its beauty but graduation is going to require the right chemicals, preferably cold and carefully sprayed. Any suggestions and tips would be gratefully received. Thanks,

Ron Martin
Retired, Collector - Buckhurst Hill Essex UK.

Antiquing Brass plating

January 4, 2020

Q. Hi everyone.

I'm in need of a technique to antique brass plating and I'm stuck. I have been given some eyelets by a customer and I need to try and match the colour as closely as I can (I have attached a picture of the colour i'm trying to match). I have tried antiquing fluid in the past but this just strips the plate and nowhere seems to sell antique brass as a plating fluid.

I assume I need a blackener of some kind but I'm really not sure which would give the best result (I'm not an expert).
Please can anyone help.
Many thanks, Nik.

Nikki Swift
Hobbyist/Sole Trader - Doncaster, UK

January 2020

A. Hi Nik. On the one hand plating shops antique brass and copper plating routinely; on the other hand, the sellers of brass darkening solutions warn you to use them only on solid brass, not plated brass, and your experience supports that warning :-(

I think the thing to do is to apply a tinted brass lacquer. See, for example, this page from G.J. Nikolas [a supporting advertiser]:

Good luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

January 9, 2020

Q. Hi Ted!
Thanks for that. Ah the USA, I wish they had a stockist in the UK. I will keep checking around and see what I can find. I assume something like "Brass Black" [affiliate link to product info on Amazon] wouldn't work then as its plate rather than solid. Many thanks for the help!

Nikki Swift [returning]
Narrowed Visions - Doncaster, UK

January 2020

A. Hi again. The instructions say to use only on solid brass, but I do not have any personal experience to say it can't succeed :-)

Have you tested the eyelets with a magnet or otherwise determined that they are not solid brass?


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

January 16, 2020

thumbs up sign  Oops, sorry for the delay. The things I'm looking to do are brass underneath but they are plated in zinc/nickel. I could remove that but its a bit of a lengthy process for something that I can't charge much for (the eyelet image was just to illustrate the colour required). I may have a play and see if I can work it out. Someone suggested plating a thicker layer of brass to counteract the effects of the antiquing fluid. I may just go with powder coating them a similar colour in the end if all else fails. Bah! Thanks for your help so far, I really appreciate it!

Nikki Swift [returning]
Narrowed Visions - Doncaster, UK

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