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topic 43290

Cleaning fingerprints off of copper sheeting

A discussion started in 2006 but continuing through 2018


Q. I am using copper sheets as a top on a kitchen island. Want to have it patina naturally, then seal it. My problem is that it has a TON of fingerprints on it, and I don't know how to get them off. Any help?

Nicole Mangin
do it yourselfer - Rio Rancho, New Mexico, USA


A. I think a cleaner that relies on an acid principle rather than polishing would probably leave the copper in the best condition to grow a patina. I play with most of the cleaners and polishes that people mention on this website, to get a feel for them. Revere copper cleaner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] cleans tarnish instantaneously without any rubbing and, although I think it leaves a slightly salmony appearance compared to the warm glow of Brasso [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] or Mother's Mag & Aluminum Polish [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], it probably leaves the copper more active and inclined to patinate than most polishes would.

Let us know what you find out.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
We need "Aloha" now more than ever


A. If you want brown look you can rub it with some Linseed Oil [linked by editor to product info at Rockler] (very,very sparingly instead linseed you can use any other edible oil or fat) and then heat it with hot air gun or gas burner(only backside).Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia


Q. Thanks I'll try it and let you know, by the way, how do I remove the excess flux from this same copper sheeting? Some of the seams are burned and turning green and black.

Nicole Mangin [returning]
- Rio Rancho, New Mexico, USA


A. You can remove fingerprints with ammonium citrate solution (5%, pH9, take 50 gm citric acid, 1 lit water and add ammonia to pH 9) ... 5% citric acid can be used too. Object must be well degreased (with Acetone [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] or pure alcohol). Standard flux remover is 10% sulphuric acid solution. Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia


A. This is a fairly easy question to answer. Wipe down with Xylene, let it dry, apply Brasso to it and with a small buffing wheel, not only will it take out the fingerprints but will also give it a high sheen.

Brandt Hinton
- Elk River, Minnesota, USA

November 4, 2018

Q. I have the same question as originally asked. I noticed that many of the answers were on how to clean the copper but can you just remove the fingerprints in that isolated area, yet keep an even finish throughout the rest of the copper sheeting? Thank you.

Myste Dibble
- Port Townsend, Washington USA

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