Bronze is a beautiful material that has both depth and durability. Its deep sheen can impart an air of regal elegance to even the most simple surroundings. However, despite the appeal of bronze in a home or decorative setting, it cannot be denied that keeping its original clean luster requires a bit of upkeep. Fortunately, there are many commercial cleaners and household ingredients that can restore bronze's original beautiful sheen without heavy chemicals or toxic fumes.
Bronze Disease on Faucet
Even if it's been recently installed, a bronze faucet can pick up the green patina associated with age fairly quickly. Bronze is a metal alloy. This means that rather than being a naturally occurring metal, it's comprised of predominantly copper, with a small percentage of tin. These two metals, as it is known from looking at the Statue of Liberty and many old roofs, turns a shade of minty green after exposure to the elements.
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Although it makes sense to think of the green patina on the exterior of the bronze as a disease or a flaw, it's a corrosion that protects the material inside. The greenish corrosive layer that coats the surface of a bronze faucet after repeated exposure to air and moisture is a protective shell that prevents the metal alloy from sustaining further damage and rotting or becoming porous.
The coating can be seen as a good thing, indicative of this material's ability to withstand temperature fluctuations and dampness. However, as someone concerned with keeping your brass fixtures looking their best, it's probably difficult to see the green as a positive.
Oil Rubbed Bronze Fixtures
Oil rubbed bronze fixtures are slightly different from traditional or plain brass household fixtures. Oil rubbed bronze is a variety of bronze that has been chemically treated to appear more aged than it is. Rather than the oil rubbed bronze treatment giving the bronze a greenish patina, the oil rubbing darkens the shade of the bronze as a whole, intentionally, for an aesthetic reason.
Unlike bronze, which typically has a goldish yellow glow, oil rubbed bronze has been treated with chemicals to give it a much darker finish, closer to a deep brown with gold or copper undertones. The oil rubbing darkens the fixtures considerably, and also offers a depth of shade and color that make the fixtures seem far older and more valuable than they may be.
Cleaning Oil Rubbed Bronze
After several years of using your oil rubbed bronze faucet, you will likely begin to notice a bit of green discoloration and patina creeping onto the exterior. When you notice an oil rubbed bronze faucet turning green, it's time to begin cleaning it. Cleaning it won't permanently prevent the green patina from returning. Rather, it's something you'll need to keep managing again and again.
There are certainly many commercial products available that can help to remove the patina from oil rubbed bronze. However, in the interest of saving money and limiting the number of caustic chemicals in your home, you may choose instead to use a natural method that is cheaper and makes use of simply non-toxic household ingredients.
Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda and enough lemon juice to form a paste, roughly the same consistency as toothpaste. Spread the paste evenly over the oil rubbed brass faucet turning green. Rub the mixture into the brass with a soft cloth, taking care to go over the very stained or very green parts with even more effort.
After really working the paste into the faucet, wipe it off with a soft cloth. Rinse the faucet thoroughly with warm water and dry it completely. If a patina is still visible, repeat the process until it is clean and shiny.