April 16, 2024

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bronze plate

Empty brass metal plate. Vintage, steampunk style. Clipping path included, 3d illustration

Polishing Perfection: A Guide to Cleaning Bronze Plates

Bronze plates have a multitude of uses, and offer many advantages over other metals for many applications. However, they do require cleaning to keep them in good condition.


What is Bronze?


Bronze is an alloy, which means it is made of different metals. Copper is the main component of bronze. Tin is usually the next component. However, aluminum is often used for polished bronze. Other metals, including zinc, nickel, and lead can be used in small amounts as well.


General Bronze Cleaning


Start by dusting the bronze plate with a clean cloth or duster. Basic bronze cleaning simply requires soap and water. It’s best to choose a soap without fragrances or additives. Add a few drops of dish soap to a bowl of water. Dip a wash cloth or sponge into the soapy water, and wipe down the bronze plate.


Rinse well with clean water. Be sure to remove any soap residue. Dry with a microfiber cloth.


Removing Patina From Bronze


If your bronze plate has a patina, you can remove it with a natural acid. You’ll start by using soap and water, as described above. Once you’ve completed those steps, you’ll apply your acid.

You can choose lemon juice or white vinegar that is at least 5% acidity. Saturate a clean cloth with the acid, and wipe the bronze plate with the cloth. Allow it to sit for a few minutes. Rinse well with clean water, and dry with a clean microfiber cloth.


Heavy Duty Bronze Cleaning


If you have items that are heavily stained or have a lot of patina, you’ll need a heavy-duty cleaning solution. Fortunately, you don’t need to turn to harsh chemicals to get the job done. In fact, the ingredients are common household items.


Before using these methods, you’ll want to clean the bronze with soap and water, as explained earlier.


Baking Soda and Lemon Juice


One way to clean your bronze plates is with baking soda and lemon juice. Put a few tablespoons of baking soda into a small bowl. Then, add lemon juice until it makes a thick paste.


Now you’ll apply the paste to your bronze item. You can do this with your hands, a washcloth, or a brush. Use a soft cloth to rub the paste in small circles, until you don’t see any discoloration in the area.


Let the paste sit for 30 minutes. Then, rinse clean with water, and dry with a microfiber cloth.


Salt and Vinegar


Salt, vinegar, and flour can also be used to restore bronze. Mix two tablespoons of salt with two tablespoons of flour. Add vinegar until you have a thick paste. Apply the paste to the bronze. Use small circles to rub it in. Leave the paste on the object for at least 1 hour.


Rinse clean with water, and dry with a microfiber cloth.

Caring for and Maintaining Bronze


There are some do’s and don’ts you should know when caring for bronze.


What to Avoid


First, avoid using any harsh chemicals on the metal. Chlorine, or bleach, and other harsh cleaners can wear the metal, causing lasting damage. In fact, chlorine can cause bronze disease, which will cause pits and eventually destroy the metal.


You should also avoid using a pressure washer. This is unnecessary, and can potentially damage the metal.


It’s also important to avoid unnecessary contamination. Dirt and oils from skin, moisture, and pollutants can also cause bronze to develop a patina or tarnish. The cleaner your bronze plate stays, the less cleaning it will require.


You’ll want to avoid excess moisture as well. Over time, moisture can cause the patina to form.


What You Should Do to Maintain Bronze


Oiling your bronze pieces is one way to help prevent patina. You have a few options. Olive oil, coconut oil, and mineral oil will all work well. These oils help restore the shine of bronze and give it a polished look. WD-40 can also be used to clean and shine bronze.


Once you’ve chosen your oil, simply apply the oil to a clean cloth. Then rub the bronze with the saturated cloth.


Final Thoughts


There are several ways to clean bronze. You can use soap and water, lemon juice, or vinegar. You will want to avoid handling the bronze, and keep it away from moisture whenever possible.