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How to Antique Metal

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1. Choose a chemical oxidizer designed for the particular metal (silver, brass, etc.) you are antiquing. Most store-bought oxidizers contain muriatic or hydrochloric acid as the primary corrosive agent.

2. Prepare your working area. You’ll need to work outdoors or in a well-ventilated area of your home as the fumes from chemical oxidizers can be toxic.

3. Cover exposed surfaces, including the floor and table in thick, protective plastic sheets. Wear thick rubber gloves and safety goggles.

4. Place a gallon of water and some baking soda or ammonia nearby in case you need to quickly neutralize spilled acid.

5. Move other metal objects to another room. Even the fumes from the process can oxidize and damage them.

6. Dilute the chemical oxidizer. Use a glass container (not metal, plastic or wood) to mix 1 part oxidizer to 20 parts water to begin and strengthen gradually as needed.

7. Soak the metal objects by placing them into oxidizing solution carefully. Keep them in the solution until they achieve a desired darkness or blackness, typically a few seconds to 1 or 2 minutes. You can also apply the solution with a brush or cotton swab to control coloration.

8. Remove the objects from the oxidizing solution. Then cover them in baking soda or ammonia to neutralize the acid and stop the oxidizing process.

9. Rinse the items with clean water and dry them with a clean cloth towel.

10. Restore a shine to selective parts of the metal objects by rubbing with fine steel wool, in order to provide contrast and an authentically worn look. Alternatively, you can tumble small items in a rotary tumbler with steel shot to brighten and shine parts of the metal.

 

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