How To Patina Metal
Written by Artistic Alloys

How to Patina Metal

Patina is a general term that refers to the appearance of age or usage. It can apply to metal, clothing, furniture and more.  In metalworking it particularly refers to a chemical process that is caused by exposing metals to the elements.

1. Gather Your Patinating Essentials

Usually you can find most of these ingredients and items in your home. You will need an acceptable container to soak your metal in your patinating solution, such as a cheap bowl or plastic container. After patinating, you can clean out the container and reuse it, but it needs to be at a minimum deep enough to fully submerge the metal you will be patinating. In addition to these things, you will also need:

  • The Metal You’re Going to Patinate
  • Plastic or Rubber Gloves (optional, but recommended)
  • Cheap Bowl or Plastic Container
  • Clean rag (or paper towels; used for drying)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (3% solution; optional)
  • Salt (Any Kind is Okay)
  • White vinegar

2. Prepare The Metal You’re Going To Patinate

To get the best results, it’s a good idea to always clean your metal and container before you start patinating. Even your fingerprints or invisible residues can impact the end result of your patination, so be sure to carefully and thoroughly clean and dry your metal and container.

  • In a lot of cases, a couple drops of dish soap and a good scrub brush will be plenty to clean light to somewhat dirty pieces of metal.
  • Soak particularly dirty metal pieces in a degreaser. This will remove the build up in harder to reach areas.
  • If you are attempting to patinate steel, using Trisodium Phosphate can be very powerful. Then you can rinse off the metal and let it air dry.
  • Wearing clean plastic or rubber gloves when cleaning and handling the metal can help protect your skin from harsh cleaning agents while avoiding fingerprints from being transferred back onto the metal.

3. Submerge The Metal In White Vinegar

Add your white vinegar to your clean, dry container so there is enough to fully submerge the metal. Then add an equal amount of salt to the vinegar, thoroughly stir the mixture, and place the metal so it can sit in the mixture and create a vinegar and & patina.

  • Allow the metal to soak in vinegar-salt patinating mixture for a minimum of 1/2 an hour. The mixture can produce a lot of colors of patina depending on soaking time, temperature, metal make-up, and other factors.
  • For more extreme oxidation, first soak the metal in just the vinegar. After that, add hydrogen peroxide and salt to the vinegar as subsequently detailed.

4. If You Like You Can Intensify Oxidation With Peroxide

The addition of hydrogen peroxide and salt to your white vinegar will cause a lot of iron alloys, such as steel, to rust. Doing so can add color, personality, and authenticity to your patina. For every four parts white vinegar in your container, add one half part salt and one-part hydrogen peroxide to your mixture

As an example, if you have four cups of white vinegar in your container, you would have to add one half cup of salt and one cup hydrogen peroxide.

  • If you’re not sure about the amount of white vinegar in your container, remove your metal for a moment and pour the white vinegar into a measuring cup, then replace it to its container.

5. Let Your Metal To Completely Dry And Think About A Sealant

For a genuinely natural look, you might want to leave your patinated metal free of sealer. However, this kind of patina can be vulnerable to fading or flaking. After your metal is completely dry, you can protect the patina with:

  • As an example, you may find typical beeswax or renaissance wax helpful in preserving the surface of your patina and its color.
  • A clear coat of acrylic. This creates a smooth, hard barrier between your patina and the forces of nature.

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