How to "antique" brass?


Sr Member
I have something made of solid brass that I want to make look old. Right now it is super shiny. I dont necessarily want to weather it, but just make it dull and get rid of the shine. How would I do this?
Easy off oven cleaner darkens it up nicely. Then some steel wool to get the "brightness" you want.
Be sure to read about it in some of the Obi-Wan threads as well as look it up online. I sprayed brass parts down and let it sit outside in the open air for a few hours. It can come out spotty, but you can always go at it with the steel wool and redo.
Liver of Sulfur can be used to antique brass and other metals too. Best bet to find it locally is probably a stained glass shop, or just google to find at home recipes to make it. I've never had good even results just fuming with ammonia in a sealed container (think its usually due to the poor metallurgy of the reproduction hardware), but that's another option... just make sure it's beyond super clean on the surface
Easy-Off is extremely caustic - Wear Gloves!

... Chemical burns are itchy ... and it'll ruin a hardwood floor.

Most oven cleaners contain lye which is extremely dangerous and will burn skin.

Before exposing the metal to any antiquing you should clean the piece super well and then clean it again. Any oils or fingerprints or sealers or conformal coatings will make for a splotchy finish.
If it's lacquered, you'll need to get that off first. 0000 steel wool works for simpler pieces, or you can use laquer stripper or acetone for more complicated items.

If you want a very subtle darkening, the kind you'd get from leaving something on a shelf and ignoring it a few years, you might also try ammonia fuming it. Fill a shallow dish with ammonia (a small plastic container works,) stick it in trash bag, suspend the piece over the dish and tie off the top of the bag. The longer you leave it, the duller the metal will get.
If it's lacquered, you'll need to get that off first. 0000 steel wool works for simpler pieces, or you can use laquer stripper or acetone for more complicated items.


Yes i think the problem it's just because it's lacquered ! In fact brass without lack are not shiny a long time !
The ammonia fuming has always worked well for me--cheap and effective, always wins in my book!

All you need is the ammonia, a plastic or glass container big enough to suspend the item over the ammonia you will pour in the bottom. Tie a string to the item and then to a stick to suspend it over a bucket or whatever. Pour some ammonia in the bottom, and put the whole thing inside a garbage bag and seal it up for some hours. Tape down the ends of the stick to the container so your object doesn't "jump in"

Typically the longer you leave it fuming the darker it will get. You will get some green patina, but that is easy to buff off. Make sure you clean the brass really good before fuming to remove any manufacturing oils and such, and if it has a finish on it that will have to be removed before antiquing it.

The darkening will probably be splotchy and you may have to fume it more than once, using fresh ammonia each time and doing this in stages to get the effect you want. When it is approaching as dark as you want the background to be, take it out of it's little fume-room and wash and dry it.

You can then buff the highlights up with some 0000 steel wool and polish it off with a soft clean cloth rub down. You can keep fuming and polishing until you get it looking like you want it.

The part I like best about using the ammonia fuming method is that the item will continue to darken after you finish it until it is real mellow and natural looking. There are various commercial products out there that will give you an instant antique look, but I'm not familiar enough with these to say how they react over time.

I used a diluted mix of Perma Blue (gun bluing) on my brass Farnsworth faceplate and it added a neat brown color to the brass. Just make sure to apply it evenly otherwise the brushstrokes or swipes will show.
I will tell you same thing as shylaah...

I use "Ammoniac" in french.
Easy,display some fluid in a closed box.
Then display the brass part above,no contat with fluid.
will act with vapour.
Depending on temperature of fluid and part,it can take from a few seconds to a few hours.
If you want a fast action,easy,display the piece in the freezer a few minutes,and put the container with ammoniac on radiator,then,put the brass part in the container,will work in a few seconds...
Advantages are the short time needed for operation,and the quality of results,really neat and regular.
Of course,you can leave brass above ammoniac for a long time,will give dark patina,from dark greenish brown on brass to a black-blue color on bronze.
It's possible to remove partially and do a new treatment,to add contrasts,or create damaged items.




This thread is more than 11 years old.

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. This thread hasn't been active in some time. A new post in this thread might not contribute constructively to this discussion after so long.
If you wish to reply despite these issues, check the box below before replying.
Be aware that malicious compliance may result in more severe penalties.