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Getting back my brass

After heating a brass piece a little too high and using a communal
pickle with LOTS of copper ions in it, my brass piece is plated with
a layer of copper. What’s the easiest way to get it looking like
brass again? Chemical dip or abrasion? Plus’s and minus’s of both?


Idyll, Your brass didn’t actually get PLATED with copper. The heating
brought the Zinc to the surface and the pickle dissolved the Zinc,
leaving the metal surface rich in copper. Any further treatment with
acid will only make the condition worse. I’m afraid that abrasion is
your best bet for restoring the brass surface. Depending on how deep
the depletion layer is, you may have to do a lot of abrading. You MAY
be able to electroplate it with brass. I’ve never done this myself, so
I can’t say for sure that it will work. Anyway, it seems like a lot of
trouble just to restore a brassy surface. Regards…Bob Williams

Before you decide to entirely remove the copper coating, you might
want to utilize it in the form of some design. Mask out the areas
you would like to retain the copper color, then with coarse steel
wool, or other abrasive rub the parts which you want to have brass
color. Makes a nice two tone effect. I learned this years ago when
I was enrolled in a jewelry making class in college. The pickle
pot was almost always contaminated from iron binding wire, or other
things that the neophyte students dropped into it. Usually it was
silver which picked up the copper coating. The copper coating on
brass was usually due to our overheating our pieces during
soldering. Our patient and very creative instructor suggested the
bi-color treatment and it was a very effective and attractive way to
deal with the problem.–Have fun— Alma.

The brass surface can be brought back easily by putting dry Sparex
(or other sodium bisulfate) in regular hydrogen peroxide, heat
slightly, and dip the piece until all the copper disappears. I think
this explanation was on Orchid in the past couple of weeks. Gini