Antiqueing Brass

Brass gets old quick if you fume or soak it with the right stuff. June 10, 2006

Does anyone know how to antique brass? In particular I am looking at the brass capitals in the lee valley catalog. Perhaps fuming with the proper chemical would work?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor D:
Van Dykes sells an antiquing solution for brass. I don't have a lot of experience with it but it will darken. I can't remember right now if it works on lacquered brass or not. Is it ammonia that works on brass?

From contributor J:
Ammonia fumes work well. Pour some household ammonia in the bottom of a container and suspend the brass on a wire above it. Cover and let it stand for several hours to overnight depending on how dark you want it. Make sure it's clean before you put it in. I always buff it just prior to fuming. Watch out for fingerprints.

From contributor P:
Whitechaple also sells the solution. I have used the solution and the fuming. One thing to keep in mind is that the brass must be un-lacquered. When I used the ammonia it was 28% not the household 5%

From contributor T:
I've had great success antiquing or coloring brass with an acid solution sold through stained glass suppliers that is used for patinating the solder lines. It’s very simple to use by just immersing the clean (no fingerprints) item for as long as wanted.

From contributor M:
Photo Fixative works well. Mix it up as you need it and soak the hardware for a short period of time, or as long as you like. It goes right to work.

From contributor G:
From what I recall of my darkroom days, photo fix is sodium thiosulfate. From what I recall, sulfates readily trade ions with active metals (and give off that rotten egg smell). Based on that, I'd think dilute muriatic acid would do the job, also.