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How to clean tarnished brass candlesticks, naturally!

I bought these cute wee candle stick holders at the local markets on Sunday - all 3 for $5! I was happy! They looked like they were probably brass but it was hard to tell as they were totally green. I figured that they were either the real deal and I had got a real deal... or they were some cheap and nasty thing and I had bought my self a set of three green tarnished cheap candle sticks.  I thought I'd have a go at polishing them up and see what happened.

Here's what I did... First I used a magnet to see if they were solid brass or brass covered steel. The magnet will not stick to solid brass and WILL stick to brass coated steel. If you use this method on brass coated steel you will probably remove the tarnish AND the brass and be left with an uncoated steel object -  you might not want that!

These ones seemed to be solid brass as the magnet wouldn't stick in the slightest...
Then I pulled them apart (the stick unscrewed from the base) and soaked them in a 50/50 white vinegar and water mix for about 20 minutes.

Depending on how precious the item is - scrub off the tarnish with a pot scrubber and an old toothbrush or maybe a cloth if it is something precious or expensive. I found the tarnish came off quite easily on the large area with a cheap green plastic pot scrubby thing.

For some of the harder to get at area's like the edges and the dips in the bases I soaked it a bit longer and used a toothbrush and a bread and butter knife to scrape away at the tarnish - remember if your item is something precious, this may not be the way to go!

I cleaned up two and then photographed them for comparison - what do you think??

I thought they came up quite well!

As these weren't anything precious or expensive, I wasn't too worried if they got scratched or marked. If you are cleaning up a family heirloom, it may pay to have a chat to a specialist before you dive in with the vinegar and a scrubbing brush! When you have finished getting all the tarnish off, give them a good soak and rinse in fresh water to get all the vinegar off and to stop any reactions so that your brass is not eaten by the acid in the vinegar.

I'm enjoying the candle light and the ease as to which they can be moved around.Most of my candles are in glass holders and once you have lit the candle they are hard to move as they get hot. These ones with the built in handles are great - I have seen them in nursery rhyme books and movies but never possessed one myself! Its fun!

In the week since I have cleaned them up, they have dulled a little. I suspect they need to be "oiled" or varnished to retain the gleam. I have a friend with brass taps in her bathroom and I know that she cleans them with furniture polish each week to keep them shiny. She said that they came with a laquar on them and as it wears off with use, she needs to keep the polish on them to keep the tarnish at bay. The ones in the guest bathroom don't tarnish so quickly as they are not used so much she tells me.

So maybe I need to have a look at oils to put on them to keep them shiny... or maybe I let them gently tarnish up a bit. Certainly the worn and used look would go much better with my worn and faded decor than bright and shiny would!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for buying second hand and refurbishing with items in the kitchen cupbourds
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for getting a bain and for buying second hand!
Time cost: Not the fastest thing you will ever do - especially if you want to get every last scrap of green off the item. Maybe an hour to do all three.
Skill level: Just soaking and scrubbing - maybe detailing if you are so inclined!
Fun -ness: Great fun to see them all shiny and filled with burning candles!


africanaussie said…
those came up beautifully - good job!
Practical Frog said…
I'm soooooo pleased with them!Thank you! - K xx
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