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topic 8423

How do I remove brass plating at home?

A discussion started in 1999 but continuing through 2017


Q. The cabinet handles in our kitchen are made of a white nonmagnetic metal plated with what is apparently brass. I want to strip off the brass plating, then polish and clearcoat to have white metal handles. What chemical can I use to strip off the brass plating? Sandpaper [affil. link to info/product at Rockler] works but is very slow and I have a lot of them. Thanks very much for any advice.

Mike M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- San Francisco, California

A. If you're going to polish anyway, Mike, it may be easiest to sandblast the brass plating off. Chemically removing brass (which is an alloy of zinc and copper) from zinc would be a little problematical in an industrial environment, perhaps best done with an ammoniacal stripper, and is probably prohibitive in a residential environment. Good luck.

You are already underway, but I'd caution others to think twice. Zinc diecastings are not particularly corrosion resistant, and usually require pretreatments like chromating, which are colored. Clearcoats are permeable and may not provide sufficient corrosion protection or good adhesion to a raw zinc diecasting. Try dipping in 50/50 vinegar for a minute, then rinsing before clearcoating to provide a bit of etching. Good luck.

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

Remove brass plating from auto taillights


Q. How do I remove a thin brass plating from polished chrome at home? These are aftermarket auto tail lights. Over the years polishing the brass has worn the coating from parts of the chrome. The chrome is in good condition. I don't want to abrasive remove the brass for fear of damaging the chrome. These tail lights were available either chrome or brass. Only certain parts of the assembly appear to be brass.

Barry Witters
- Granger, Indiana, USA


A. Sorry, Barry, but even if you could remove the brass, you are not correct that "the chrome is in good condition".

What is underneath that brass is nickel plating, not chrome plating, it will prove yellow-ish in color when you put it next to the chrome plated parts of your car, and it will tarnish very quickly.

What you would really need to do is to find a plating shop who can strip the brass plating for you, and replate the taillights with chrome. As aftermarket parts rather than parts from an old and much-in-demand classic automobile, though, you will find it cheaper to get replacements from the junkyard or the aftermarket supplier.

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

How to remove brass plating from a zinc die-cast lamp


Q. I have two old Stiffel lamps which I have been told are a brass-plated zinc die-cast. The brass plating is worn off in several areas. I would like to remove all of the brass plating to leave a brushed zinc surface. How can I remove the brass plating? Can I sand or polish it off by hand, if so what material should I use? Do I need to seal or in someway treat the zinc when I am done?

Any advice is appreciated!

Melainie Smotrilla
- Mission, Kansas


A. Follow-up - I called a local plating company and they recommended removing the lacquer with Acetone [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] and then using a buffing pad on a drill to remove the thin brass plating.

Melainie Smotrilla [returning]
- Mission, Kansas

thumbs up sign Thanks for the follow-up, Melainie!


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

October 11, 2014

Q. How can I remove brass plating from a zinc product?

shubham mishra
- gurgaon,india

October 2014

A. Hi shubham. If you can't polish the brass off the zinc, please offer some particulars because the answer to the general question is don't try it. Although it may be possible for a skilled and experienced plating shop to do it with an anodic sulphuric acid etch or other method, depending on the particulars, my understanding is that many professionals don't think there is really a good and reliable way. Good luck.


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

Stripping brass plating film from Nickel

August 21, 2015

Q. Hi,

I have brass plating on stainless steel shop in Vietnam.

I would replate brass on nickel base to repair NG parts which comes from brass plating film.
Can anyone help me to strip brass plating film on Nickel plating film?
Please suggest some mixing formulas from base chemicals to strip out Brass plating film from Nickel plating film without corroding Nickel layer.

My plating process: pre-treatment -> NiCl2 base plating -> acid copper plating-> bright nickel plating -> brass plating-> passivation -> lacquering

I appreciate any help you can provide

Thanks and best regards,

Duy Vu
plating shop employee - Vietnam

August 24, 2015

A. Good day Duy.

I have used a proprietary potassium cyanide based gold stripper to strip the brass plating, as brass flash only, where there is minimal brass thickness.
The gold stripper is intended to strip gold from nickel, without any base metal(nickel) attack.
Obviously, the lacquer must be stripped in a solvent (acetone?) before brass stripping.
Hope this helps.


Eric Bogner
Lab Tech. - Ont., Canada

August 25, 2015

thumbs up signHi Eric,

Thank you very much for your help, I am going to find some gold stripper suppliers in Vietnam and test as your advice.
I think it will help very much.
I hope everything is going well with you

Thanks and best regards,

Duy Vu [returning]
- Viet Nam

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