Ask A Soccer Mom: Polishing Brass

Dear Soccer Mom,

As you know last week at the uber flea market I scored myself oodles of brass stampings and charms. I have used these goodies in my jewelry for years, but this last batch looks a bit tarnished. There are dark spots and even a few with some patina. What is the best way for me to make brass new and shiny looking again?

Love,
Your Favorite eldest daughter Jennifer Danielle

Dearest Jennifer,

All uncoated brass will oxidize over time and need to be polished. Sometimes all you need is decent polish designed for brass if it has just gotten dull. Brasso and Twinkle are both good products for light tarnish. However, if there are dark spots on it, you may have to be more aggressive. You could start by washing the brass with a combination of ammonia and water. Then get yourself a couple of grades of steel wool like fine and very fine. The packages may be graded 0 for fine and 0000 for very fine. I use steel wool to clean a lot of things and it’s cheap so keep some around the house. Starting with the courser of the two steel wools began polishing your brass. You are just working on a small object but if it were something like a large pot with a plain surface then you would polish in one direction not in circles and just use the very fine steel wool to avoid scratch marks. Once you have removed the spots on your little pieces, switch to the very fine for a last polish. I suggest you use gloves for this whole process or you will end up dark fingers and nails. Some people suggest putting a lacquer coating on cleaned brass to keep it looking shiny longer. Another alternative is to put a very light coating of olive oil on the brass once its clean to retard future tarnish. Your Mom

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