Contact Us

  • Zest Lighting
  • (02) 8880 9169

About us

Zest Lighting is an online boutique based in Sydney that offers you the best in lighting designs at the click of a fingertip. Since 2014, we have been bringing high street designs online without the high street price tag.

​Brass Oxidation: Hidden Beauty, Appearance, & Techniques

​Brass Oxidation: Hidden Beauty, Appearance, & Techniques

Posted by Zest Lighting Staff on 18th Mar 2024

Unlocking Brass' Hidden Beauty

Have you ever noticed how some professional musicians prefer using trumpets with a worn-out look? It turns out that they intentionally remove the lacquer to reveal the brass underneath, giving it a unique charm.

It's actually a natural process called oxidation, commonly seen in metals like brass. This happens when brass reacts with oxygen in the air. The result is a tarnish or patina on the surface, typically in shades of green, black, or blue. As time goes by, you will notice that brass will start to lose its shine and develop a richer color with a more subdued finish or a popular matte finish.

It's different from corrosion, which weakens the metal itself. Here's a breakdown of brass oxidizing process:

  • Exposure: Freshly produced brass is usually sealed with lacquer to prevent tarnishing. Over time, this lacquer wears away exposing the brass to air.
  • Reaction: Oxygen makes contact with the brass surface. So there will be a chemical reaction. This forms a thin layer of copper oxide on the surface.
  • Patina: As the reaction continues, the oxide layer thickens and darkens, creating the visible patina.

Simple Ways to Create a Classic Patina

For some individuals, the weathered appearance of oxidized brass holds a special beauty, and they opt to leave the patina on. This is because aged brass hardware effortlessly brings a stunning vintage vibe to your home decor.

But this natural process takes years. If you're looking to speed up the antique effect on your brass items, there are artificial methods available as well. Here are two methods you can try:

1) Using household items

Ingredients: Salt, vinegar, and a container with a lid (preferably glass)


  • Combine salt and vinegar in a ratio of 1:1 in your container.
  • Completely submerge your brass item in the solution.
  • Close the container tightly and leave it for a few hours to a day, depending on how intense you want the oxidation. Make sure to keep an eye on it from time to time.
  • Once you're happy with the level of oxidation, remove the brass and rinse it thoroughly with clean water.
  • Use a cotton cloth to dry the brass and minimize any additional tarnishing.

2) Using Liver of Sulfur

Materials: Liver of Sulfur. It is a chemical compound that can be used to create a patina on different types of metals. You can find it at hardware stores or online shops that specialize in jewelry-making supplies.

Be sure to follow safety precautions when handling this chemical, including wearing gloves and working in a well-ventilated area.


  • You can use the liver or sulfur as a paste or a dip.

1) For paste, combine a bit of liver with sulfur and water until you achieve a paste-like texture. You will then apply the paste on the surface of the brass.

2) For soaking of the brass item, dilute the liver of sulfur as directed for a perfect dipping sauce.

  • The oxidation process occurs in under a minute, so it's important not to let the chemical sit for too long. Make sure to wash the brass carefully with clean water and gently dry it by wiping it with a soft cloth.

More Tips:

  • You can experiment with these methods to achieve your desired colour and level of oxidation. You can shorten the exposure time in your first try and extend it to a longer duration if needed.
  • We do not want accidents so safety should always be your top priority. Make sure to wear gloves when dealing with any chemicals and always work in a well-ventilated space.
  • Be aware that these methods will permanently alter the surface of your brass.