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topic 7789

Lacquer Removal from Copper Cookware


(2001)

Readers - I want to remove the lacquer finish on my copper cookware. I washed it in the dishwasher and it blackened due to the lacquer. I have tried toilet bowl cleaner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], finger nail polish remover and am at present using white vinegar heated; some success with this. I really need help my copper looks awful.

Sandy Sidock
- Fremont, Michigan, USA


(2001)

I see you have experienced a range of chemicals in your cleaning project, so far. Actually all have possibilities. The typical toilet cleaner is a mixture of hydrochloric and phosphoric acids, the nail polish remover is a lacquer thinner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], and the hot white vinegar is a dilute citric acid. I believe you are getting some result from the latter because it softens the coating enough that the hot acid can penetrate beneath it, and mildly etch the copper clean. Wearing insulated rubber gloves, and gently scrubbing the item with a fine steel wool [linked by editor to product info at Rockler] helps to get a uniform color. (I can picture your kitchen smelling like a pickle factory, though. Use with good ventilation.)

Bottom line is: you must remove the old coating completely to gain access to the copper surface, that then can be either chemically cleaned, or mechanically polished, or better, a little of each to promote uniformity. Remember that the copper is only a plating, and relatively thin, so don't etch or polish excessively, especially at the edges. If you intend to cook with these, do not recoat.

Good Luck.

W. Carl Erickson
- Rome, New York



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