Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How to Polish Copper

Copper is so hot right now. It seems like everywhere you look, you see gleaming copper. But, in reality, copper is really hard to keep shiny and polished. It develops a natural green patina from water exposure and gets dark and dull from heat exposure. J and I bought these gorgeous copper pots and pans more than ten years ago! They're by Martha Stewart Everyday and were only on the market for about 10 minutes, so we feel super lucky to have gotten some. We took them to Zurich with us, and then brought them back. We'll probably never get rid of them.

Over the years, I've tried every method of polishing from store bought to homemade polishes. Some were way messier than others, but one super cheap and easy way stood out and is my go-to. You'll never guess what the "polish" is.




It's tomato soup! I can't remember where I read that ketchup is a really great copper polish, but after trying it and making a huge mess a few times, I gave up on it. Another really messy method is the lemon and salt. It sounds so simple: just dip a lemon half in salt and rub it on the pans. There was salt and lemon everywhere! And my hands were burning. Ick. So for a long time, I didn't polish them at all and it showed. Then, just by accident, I discovered that Trader Joe's Creamy Tomato Soup does an awesome job.
This is the pan we use to boil pasta or potatoes and make popcorn. As you can see, the high temps have really taken their toll.
Sometimes, I just dump the leftover soup over the pans and let them sit in the sink for a while. But, to get more even results, I set up with the following:

  • Large jelly roll pan
  • Brush
  • Soup
  • Newspapers
It's important not to use long strokes as that can spread patina around. Small strokes, dipping often is the way to apply.
Once they've dried a bit, apply a second coat. Then leave to sit at least four hours, preferably overnight.
Using the jelly roll pan keeps all the mess in one place and makes clean up a snap. 
To remove, just hand wash in warm, soapy water and let air dry.
It can sometimes take a few applications to get them absolutely perfect, but I like them to look a little rustic instead of totally perfect. 
Repeat as needed, or just whenever you have grilled cheese and tomato soup! That's what I do and the two serve as motivation for each other, which works for me. ;) 

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