New brass is a very shiny metal that may or may not fit in with the décor of a home. However, you can change the color of brass by aging it. There are several different methods for aging brass that can help you achieve the desired look and color, depending on your creative preference.
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Remove any varnish. Varnish can be flammable and it's reactive as well, which could ruin the look of your brass altogether. Wipe the item down with acetone before doing anything else. Depending on the desired effect, choose one of the following steps to complete the project.
Paint vinegar onto the brass with a paintbrush and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before washing it off. Vinegar will cause oxidation which would have happened naturally over time anyway. Rinse the vinegar off and repeat if necessary for a tarnished gold look.
Apply 2 tsp. salt to a quart of warm water and mix well. Paint the water onto the item and let it air dry. Repeat the process until the desired look is achieved. Salt water takes longer than vinegar, but will give it a mottled aged look, almost like tarnished gold.
Scrub the brass with a soft bristled brush under warm water using a few drops of dish soap. Rinse well. Place the piece in a bowl with 1 tsp. salt and 1 cup vinegar for one hour before rinsing well with warm water and drying completely. The salt and vinegar amounts can be increased in those increments for larger pieces of brass. This will give the brass a warm, honey color.
Hold the brass item by tongs over an open flame for several seconds and immediately immerse the brass in cold water. The burner of a gas stove works well for this. The brass changes to a gingerbread color.
Place the brass item in an airtight plastic bag with an old cloth soaked in ammonia. Leave this until the desired color is reached and take it out and rinse it well with warm water. Ammonia fumes will give brass a greenish-brown color, but don't let ammonia touch the brass as this will cause spotting.
Ventilate well when dealing with chemicals such as ammonia and wear gloves and safety glasses.
Melynda Sorrels spent 10 years in the military working in different capacities of the medical field, including dental assisting, health services administration, decontamination and urgent medical care. Awarded the National Guardsman’s Medal for Lifesaving efforts in 2002, Sorrels was also a nominee for a Red Cross Award and a certified EMT-B for four years.