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"Repair white spots on bronze and antique bronze"


Q. I have antique brass fixtures in my bathroom. These appear to have an epoxy coating over the brass. I find that the sink drains have quickly become spotted with small white spots which I can't remove. No chemicals have been used in these sinks, only water. Is there any way to clean the epoxy coating on antique brass fixtures?


Bob D [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Hercules, California, USA

A. Hi Bob.

Yes, there probably is a lacquer, or epoxy or other clear coat over your antique brass. That is necessary because brass quickly tarnishes if it is not lacquered or clear coated; and if the brass is blackened or "antiqued", the antiquing would have little wear resistance and would keep changing.

Although the white spots could be calcium deposits (water hardness) above the clear coat, they are more likely a discoloration from water permeating under/through the clear coat. If you look close you might be able to tell.

My strategy would probably be to try to wipe them off with vinegar (which is a mild acid that rapidly dissolves calcium deposits). If the spots don't come off with vinegar, they are under the clear coat, and you would need to strip and re-apply it; that is do-able by a determined home handyman, but involves noxious and messy chemicals, and has the potential of additional damage if splashed or dripped. Best of luck.


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


Q. I own an old pair of antique bronze bookends, how do I clean them?

Thank you,

Diane Schaming
homemaker - Staten Island, New York

April 15, 2009 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have a bronze mermaid coffee table and it has white spots. I would like to remove the spots; how do I handle this problem? Thank you.

Priscilla Moss
- Los Angeles, California

April 17, 2009

A. Hi, folks. Most brass or copper polishes are fine for bronze. If they are not aggressive enough you can try a power buffer with the polish (try it first in an inconspicuous area). Vinegar plus salt is mild on people but very aggressive on copper and copper alloys like bronze, so you could try that in an inconspicuous area too.

But if the items have a lacquer or clearcoat finish, you'll need to remove that first.

If it actually is lacquer, you can remove that with lacquer thinner [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] or Acetone [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] (remember they're flammable).

If the clearcoat won't come off with lacquer thinner, it's not lacquer, but something more robust. It can probably be removed with Aircraft Stripper, but only attempt it outside, from upwind, wearing goggles [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] and Rubber Gloves [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] because aircraft stripper contains truly noxious and toxic MEK. See letters 22020 and 21436 for additional ideas and detail. Good luck.

But a problem remains on all of the entries on this thread: one person's corrosion pitting is another person's calcium hardness, is another person's water rings, is another person's something else. Please send good in-focus photos of the discolorations to for posting here. If that is impossible for some reason, try to be exceptionally clear with your description and wording so we can picture what you're talking about, rather than offering a cure to a different problem :-)


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

Electro-black parts get white spots after lacquering

September 7, 2018

Q. How to get rid of white spots that appears after lacquering. Whenever I do an antique brass finish and lacquer, the part it gets white. Could it be the cyanide from the electro-black reacting with the lacquer? Maybe it wasn't washed properly?

Zan James
Employee - Guyana

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