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"How to remove clearcoat on copper"

Current question and answers:

February 14, 2021

Q. Someone spayed a copper display item with a can of krylon matte clear sealer to try to protect it. But now it is dark and tarnished. What can I use to get rid of this sprayed-on sealer so that I can RE-POLISH the copper?

Beth smith
No. Venice, Florida- USA

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February 2021

A. Hi Beth. Try lacquer thinner or acetone first. If that doesn't do it, methylene chloride will if you can still find any (it's very toxic, requiring goggles [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] & Rubber Gloves [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] as a minimum and working outside from upwind). If you can't find a stripper with methylene chloride anymore, or don't want to use it, read on for some other possibilities.

Luck & Regards,

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

February 15, 2021

A. Try 3 parts acetone and 1 part ammonia(25%) mixture.Use safety goggles and rubber gloves! Bad smelling but very effective.

Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb Croatia

Previous closely related Q&A's starting in:


Q. I have obtained two pieces of copper(outside) over stainless steel cookware. These are coated with ?. I tried to remove it with nail polish remover and elbow grease, but that's not working. What will remove this coating?

It is a clear coating to prevent tarnish. I've received emails that mild detergent will remove this coating, ha, they're wrong.

The skillet is a piece of Revere ware produced in the late 1970's. It is stainless steel covered with copper on the outside. To protect and keep it from tarnishing the company used ? to coat it. So this coating has been on this piece of cookware for over 20 years. I do not want to display this but use it. So I need to remove the coating. I have two other pieces like this that I bought in the 70's but can't remember what I used on the coating. Hope this helps.

P. London
- York, Pennsylvania

Revere copper cleaner

A. How do you know that the coating is still there? I also have a set of Revereware of that vintage. After washing it, I just used it for cooking. Any remaining coating was probably incinerated! If you think the coating is still there because there are darker spots where the copper oxidized over the years (pin holes in the protective layer) and brighter spots where the coating protected it, just remember that the areas that were protected aren't going to oxidize immediately. It will look measled until the protected spots oxidize to match the areas that were unprotected. Also, Revere makes a Revere copper cleaner [affil. link to info/product on Amazon]. You could try using that. It has a slight abrasive, but not enough to scratch. Takes the oxidation off the copper parts so you could make it all look the same.

Good luck,

Ronna Erickson
- Amherst, Massachusetts


A. This is from Revere's website taken directly from the warranty. Hope it helps......

"To remove protective coating:

* In pot large enough to immerse at least half of this item, combine 1 tblsp. Baking Soda to each quart of water used.

* Boil solution. Submerse item in boiling solution and boil for 20-30 minutes. The coating will soften & begin to peel.

* Remove from solution and wash item in warm, soapy water, scrubbing with a Nylon scrubber to remove softened coating. DO NOT use steel wool.

* Finally, clean with copper cleaner (available at supermarkets) and a soft sponge."

Marlena Baker
- Houston, Texas


A. I have had a set of the all-copper-clad-stainless-lined cookware, since the '70's, as well as many import pieces. In the beginning, we were told to NOT cook with it till the lacquer coating was removed. Cooking would harden the coating and super adhere it in spots - true. To remove that, we boiled the pot in vinegar -awkward! Recently, polishing the ENTIRE collection, with desperate attitude of the old & cranky, I gave some a shot with spray oven cleaner. BONANZA! Even 30 yr old lacquer moved! Does NOT hurt the copper! Followed up with a Paste Cleaner (not powder), polishing is fun again!

Becky Wyman
Beads & Custom Leather - Tacoma, Washington

affil. link


A. Boiling does work well. If the pot is large, you might have trouble finding a large pot in which to boil it. The finish is a kind of varnish. You can also buy a can of Acetone [affil. link to info/product on Amazon]. Take the pot outside and use a rag to apply the acetone. The acetone softens the varnish. Then you can go inside and use Barkeepers Friend [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] and a pad to clean it up under warm water. The acetone is MUCH quicker than boiling and MUCH easier. Good luck.

Rick Reynolds
- McLean, Virginia


A. Hi, This letter and several others on our site reveal that the coating is not so easily removed from 30 year old cookware. Whether that's because the formulation was different 30 years ago, or because the coating has cured for 30 years, the fact is that a more aggressive removal method may be needed on the old stuff.


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

June 29, 2008 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have some unused copper pieces, still finished with a protective surface. I understand that this should be removed before use . I have a gas stove, so the intense heat would burn the finish to the copper.

Karen kelly
cook - Indian Head,Saskatchewan, Canada

April 4, 2010

A. The tip to use Easy-Off heavy duty oven cleaner [affil. link to info/product on Amazon]! I just added a piece to my set of Revere Copper from the '70s and the new piece had the coating. It came off perfectly! Back in the 70's I was boiling my pans in baking soda, and this was so much easier. Absolutely no damage to the copper! Thanks!

Jan Baratta
- Scottsdale, Arizona

August 21, 2011

Q. I just bought a copper pan. The website says it is treated with lacquer and needs to be wiped with acetone before first use.

I have done that - using nailpolish remover - however there was not really much of a reaction - I was expecting some stickiness or a layer of something to be removed. I want to be sure that if there is something there that I remove it properly so I don't ruin the copper when I use it.

So, my question, how can I tell if the lacquer is removed, or for that matter, even there in the first place?


liza murphy
- Bonn Germany

affil. link
VOM meter

August 21, 2011

Hi, Liza

This may not be the right answer for you or Ronna, but it may help somebody. Copper is electrically conductive and lacquer is not; so, you can touch the probes of an inexpensive VOM (multimeter) at a few different spots to determine if the lacquer has been removed. Good luck.


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

October 9, 2011

Q. Tri-ply Copper cookware -display pieces- heavy lacquer finish both inside and out - warning not to use- can this coating be safely removed?

John Scully
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

October 20, 2012

A. I used Brake Parts Cleaner and it was instant. Just brush off the coating with a scrub brush. Do it outside and wear gloves.

Bass W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Rome, Georgia, USA

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