39 Metals | Shimmer & Sheen

64 Arts

Our last project began to bridge the gap between stones and gems (precious or otherwise) and into the next art:

39 Mixing and Polishing Metals

Coming so close on the heels of stones and gems, we might automatically think of jewelry but this could also be applied to the other metals in our life: cookware, flatware, servingware–certainly on the polishing side of things, right?

Today let’s look at some basic tips for cleaning and polishing various metals we might find around our homes, offices, and persons.

Copper, unless sealed, will tarnish easily and loose that warm tone that looks so at home in a kitchen. While there are chemical cleaners out there that will do the trick, why not go the more natural route and get a little bit of an arm workout in at the same time? Two birds, one stone! The cut side of a lemon sprinkled with Kosher salt or baking soda used as a scrubbie will take of light tarnish and give your copper pots and bowls a great shine. If something stronger is needed, mix together 1 Tbsp salt and 1 cup of white vinegar and rub this on with a soft, lint-free cloth (a flour-sack towel, for instance). You may go through a couple of towels if the tarnish is thick.

Whether you’ve got brass doorknobs or buttons to contend with, either is likely to tarnish easily the more it is handled. I remember back in marching band, before the festival performances and competitions the tuba players would be rubbing down their instruments in Brasso and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the smell of it. Ick! Soap and water will clean solid brass pieces just fine, but brass plating might take a little more effort. Vinegar and salt (1 Tbsp each per cup of hot water), those do-it-all wonders, will also work on brass plating. Regular wiping with a jewelers cloth can also keep tarnish at bay.

Stainless steel is something I’m sure we all have in our kitchens in some form or fashion, but how many times has that super-sturdy material ended up discolored or marred, despite what we’ve heard? Even those stainless steel is a bit of a workhorse material, it can still be damaged by mishandling. If you put it through the dishwasher or leave it on the drainboard to air dry, water-spots might hang around, and the minerals in our water can actually mar the surface and open it up to corrosion. If the item needs a deeper cleaning than just warm water can handle, make sure the detergent you’re using is mild.

Finally, silver (plated or otherwise) is the dream and bane of hostessing far and near. I love bringing out my pieces of silver for a big party but I hate having to polish them. Of course, if I would store them properly they wouldn’t tarnish as much, so I suppose it’s my own fault, yes? I promise that when I get my grandmother’s silver I will dutifully keep it wrapped in the cloth bags that keep the air away from it’s pretty finish, but the silver serving ware I currently have I’ll just have to keep cleaning. While I will use Wright’s Silver Cream (affiliate link) if I’m in a hurry–I find it easy to use and fairly fume-free–last time I tried the old foil and baking soda trick and it actually worked quite well. I still had to buff it a lot more than that linked video shows, but my set was really tarnished.

I know we’re a little past the usual spring cleaning time and silver might seem a little out of place at your Memorial Day Barbecue, but I think it’s worth taking the time to shine things up and actually use the “good” dishes and all. Every day is special in it’s own way, why not reinforce that the next time you set the table? Whipping eggs but hate to use that pretty copper bowl you got as a gift? It will do you more good in use than collecting dust, to my mind.

Until next time!

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