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 Post subject: Catchup on brass
PostPosted: Sep Thu 06, 2018 2:07 am 

Joined: Nov Tue 14, 2017 5:09 am
Posts: 1877
Location: Austin, Texas
Several sites recommended catchup for cleaning brass so I decided to try it on some trim that had about 50 years of barn time. The trim was totally blue on all sides with no brass showing at all. I put the brass into a Zip-Loc bag and added enough catchup to cover all the surfaces.

After a few hours, I cleaned the brass with a toothbrush and dish soap. The back side came completely clean but the front still had some black spots. I put the brass back in the bag with the same catchup for a few more hours. With the second round, the brass came out very clean and only needed a little extra scrubbing with Bar Keeper's Friend to be completely clean even in the tight corners.

There is some bad news about using catchup on badly tarnished brass. After cleaning, the surface appeared to be copper plated. I think the reaction removes most of the tarnish but leaves the copper behind. Someone who knows more about chemical reactions may be able to provide more insight into the reason for the copper coating. Anyway, it took several rounds of toothbrush and Bar Keeper scrubbing to get rid of the copper and getting the trim to look like brass again.

Overall I am pleased with how well the catchup removed the tarnish with no damage to the trim. The parts I was cleaning were very badly tarnished so the extra scrubbing to remove the copper was still much less work than I had expected.

I'm sure other cleaners will work faster and may not leave the copper coating but I always have catchup on hand and don't think it has any bad effects on the environment. You do want to avoid putting it back into the bottle after using it to clean your brass parts.


 Post subject: Re: Catchup on brass
PostPosted: Sep Thu 06, 2018 2:35 am 
User avatar

Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 14155
Location: S. Dartmouth MA 02748-1225 USA
WIKI wrote:
Ketchup, also known as catsup, is a type of sauce containing spices and a large amount of acid (vinegar or lactic acid), typically tomato-based.
The acid is causing a local action with the zinc, like a shorted battery. The zinc becomes sacrificial.
Google wrote:
Barkeepers friend: The canned product's primary active ingredient is oxalic acid,

Barkeepers also has a polishing agent that is really doing the "shining" but it is rather coarse. I use it on my worst "green" oxidation projects. The Follow it up with "Miracle cloth" for the "see your face" shine...

Ya, a real rip off, I was buying this product for $0.42 ea in 1979. It was marketed by Barry Industries for door to door sales... I bought 100, got two left and two still working I keep in a jar... Just a rugged rag impregnated in jewelers rouge and oily wax, likely a Carnauba and auto coarse polishing compound.

None the less, it does work sweet, about as gentile as it gets...

Last use was polishing a pendulum bob on my Ansonia school clock.

All done by hand, a buffing wheel and jewelers rouge would be faster and possible a "deeper" shine, but small parts tend to get snagged and go flying, whoops :roll:

Lots of stuff out there to do the job..

I prefer Ketchup on my home fries in the morning. But last week I tried Heinz BBQ sauce for a treat...Yummy...

Smith's Ale Gives Strength, Smith Bros. Brewers, New Bedford MA

 Post subject: Re: Catchup on brass
PostPosted: Sep Thu 06, 2018 7:34 am 

Joined: May Wed 23, 2018 6:28 am
Posts: 486
Tomato is a great copper cleaner. We once had a neighbor who made copper items for Martha Stewart. His "green" method of manufacture included tomato in place of harsh chemicals for cleaning

With brass, tomato and many other metal cleaners, dissolves the zinc, leaving the pink color. Shining with Brasso should restore the original color without much effort.

Barkeepers Friend has many uses, and this may be one of them, although it is also an acid and I have never used it for this purpose. Avoid abrasives.


 Post subject: Re: Catchup on brass
PostPosted: Sep Sat 08, 2018 5:56 pm 

Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 979
Location: Southwestern,Ontario Canada
Why don't you just use ammonia to clean your brass ? It is super cheap and works excellent at cleaning brass. Just pour some in a bucket and let your parts soak. You can even dilute with plain water.

 Post subject: Re: Catchup on brass
PostPosted: Sep Sat 08, 2018 8:24 pm 

Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 3272
Location: Nr London, England, SS1 3PT
White vinegar soak works as well.


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