How To Age Copper To Achieve A Patina Finish

Longing for the beautiful aged copper patina but don’t want to wait? You can use some common household products to speed up the process.

First, clean the copper item with soapy water to remove any oils or dirt that could interfere with the aging process. Rinse it well and dry it completely. Wear gloves to prevent oils from your hands from getting on the copper after cleaning.

Salt & Vinegar
One popular method involves using a mixture of vinegar and salt. Combine white vinegar and salt in a spray bottle, shaking it until the salt is dissolved. Spray the solution evenly over the copper surface. The acid in the vinegar and the sodium in the salt will react with the copper, beginning the patination process. For a more intense patina, you can wrap the copper in a vinegar-soaked rag sprinkled with salt, sealing it in a plastic bag overnight. Rinse, wash and dry when you've achieved the desired finish.

Ammonia Fuming
Ammomia fuming creates a blue or green patina. Be careful with ammonia — the fumes can be intense!

1. Place the copper item in a container that has a lid.
2. Pour a small amount of ammonia into the container; do not immerse the copper in the ammonia. Instead, you want the fumes to interact with the copper.

3. Seal the container and check periodically. The ammonia fumes will react with the copper, forming a patina. This process can take several hours to a few days, depending on the desired finish.

4. Once satisfied, remove the item and let it air out, neutralizing the reaction.

Liver of Sulfur
While not a common household item, liver of sulfur can be easily purchased online or at craft stores and is widely used for patinating copper and silver.

Dissolve a small amount of liver of sulfur in warm water to create a bath for the copper. Submerge the copper item in the solution, checking frequently until the desired patina is achieved.Rinse thoroughly with water and dry. Liver of sulfur can produce a range of colors from golden to deep blue-black.

Always perform these processes in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes. After achieving the desired patina, rinse the copper with water to stop the reaction. To preserve the finish, you can apply a clear lacquer or wax.

These methods allow you to quickly age copper with household items, offering a creative way to add character to your metal pieces. Experimenting with different techniques and exposure times can yield a variety of finishes, perfect for crafting or reviving copper items around the home.