Cleaning Brassware by Anthony King
Copied and adapted from spanner.
"Horolene" is a special solution
available from some clock shops that is specially designed for cleaning the
brass on them. It is often recommended for cleaning brassware. Unfortunately,
like ammonia and a lot of cleaning solutions, it can leave the parts looking
like copper (particularly the older brass items) if they are left soaking
for too long. Dip, brush with a toothbrush and repeat if necessary is probably
the safest method. Always dry thoroughly, for example with a hair dryer.
Horolene is available at: http://www.m-p.co.uk
You could try paraffin/kerosene, particularly if
the parts are covered with grease or oil. Personally I get perfectly
good results even on greasy/oily brasswork with ordinary household ammonia and
If you want to get rid of the tarnish off brass,
I have found even brass polishes do not give as good a result as
"Astonish". There are now many similar products to
"Astonish" available though. What you are looking for is a
cleaner that is a thick white paste in a small plastic tub. It is made mainly
of silica flour (a very fine abrasive - Just like polish), and the main
cleaning ingredient seems to be sodium silicate. The active ingredient in
I do know not to use vinegar, or
presumably any other weak acid, as while it brings them up a treat, it seems
to leach out the copper, meaning that even if well dried off, they develop a
layer of green/blue verdigris fairly quickly.
Note that Horolene can be made:
Dissolve a teaspoonful of green soap and a teaspoonful of crystallized oxalic
acid in a coffeecupful of hot water.
Now comes the outdoor part. Add a little concentrated ammonia - just
enough to "make it smell."
Ten minutes in the bath is ENOUGH - if you wait too long, there is a risk that
your couplings etc. will be "cuprified."
Rinse in methylated spirit. Note that oxalic acid is poisonous.
Also go into The Smithsonian site on cleaning
antiques…ammonia and liquid soap.