Vinegar and Salt Patina

by Rena Klingenberg. Β© 2003-Present Rena Klingenberg. All Rights Reserved

Vinegar and Salt Patina Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now we’re going to use vinegar and salt to put an easy verdigris patina on the copper Rustic Foldover Pendant we made in Part 1 of this tutorial.

Rustic Copper Foldover Pendant with Vinegar and Salt Patina by Rena Klingenberg

Because homemade patina recipes can have unpredictable results, your vinegar and salt patina on copper may wind up being any shade of green, blue, turquoise – or possibly even something else!

The mystery and surprise are part of the fun of making your own patinas. πŸ™‚

vinegar and salt patina in process on copper

Patinas made with ordinary household products may be harmful if ingested, inhaled, or worn against the skin. Use in well ventilated area, preferably outdoors.

Before starting this project, see Homemade Patina Precautions for safety guidelines.


  • The copper pendant you made in my easy Rustic Foldover Pendant tutorial.(Or other copper item that has NOT been varnished. Many commercially-available jewelry and hardware metals have been varnished).

    This is the copper pendant we made in my tutorial:

    Copper foldover pendant by Rena Klingenberg

  • Liquid dish soap (such as Dawn or whatever brand).
  • Several paper towels.
  • Regular household white vinegar.
  • Salt.
  • #0000 steel wool – one or two small pieces.
  • Something to seal your pendant’s patina – either a clear lacquer or a soft wax (Renaissance Wax, beeswax, car wax, Johnson’s floor wax, etc.).

vinegar and salt patina on copper pendant

First, Clean Your Metal:

IMPORTANT: Start with clean metal.

We need to clean your metal to remove all traces of skin oils and anything else that may resist the patina.

So before beginning the patina process, wash both sides of your copper pendant thoroughly with a generous amount of liquid dish soap.

After washing off all of the dish soap, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto both sides of your pendant and scrub it well with your steel wool.

Scrub in the same direction as the grain of your metal.

Wash off all traces of baking soda – and then without letting your skin touch the newly cleaned metal, dry it thoroughly with paper towels.

How to Make an Easy
Vinegar and Salt Patina:

In a glass container, mix 3 Tablespoons of vinegar and 3 teaspoons of salt. Stir until you can’t dissolve the salt any further.

Make sure your mixture is deep enough to completely cover your pendant when you put it in the bowl:

vinegar and salt patina

Then add your copper pendant to the mixture in the bowl, and let it soak for at least 30 minutes:

Remove your pendant from the bowl and lay it out on a folded paper towel.

Don’t dry it off or blot away the moisture. It needs to air-dry naturally.

vinegar and salt patina on copper

Check on your pendant after an hour or so. You should have some color developing:
Vinegar and salt patina on copper pendant

You can sprinkle a small amount of salt on your pendant to help speed things along.

If you do have some color developing, let it continue growing till it reaches the depth of color and coverage you wish.

If you don’t have any color developing on the metal at this point, simply soak another paper towel in vinegar, sprinkle it with salt, and lay it across the top of your pendant.

Leave this second paper towel in place till your patina develops as much as you like.

Keep checking the development of your patina every couple of hours:

vinegar and salt patina in process

It may need to develop anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days to achieve the amount of patina you desire.

After it dries, this particular patina tends to be crumbly and dusty.

So I recommend letting the patina develop past the amount you really want.

That way after it finishes crumbling and dusting away, you still should have a good bit of patina left.

Rustic Copper Foldover Pendant with Vinegar and Salt Patina by Rena Klingenberg

When Your Vinegar & Salt Patina
Is Done

When you decide your patina process is done, gently rinse both sides of your pendant with water.

If you want to remove more of the patina than the amount that comes off during rinsing, gently use your steel wool to scrub more of it away.

Then let your pendant air dry on a paper towel (or speed the drying process along by gently blow-drying it with a hair dryer on low setting).

After a few days, you can seal your copper pendant’s patina with spray-on clear lacquer or soft wax (as mentioned in the supply list above).

Now it’s time to enjoy your fantastically antique-looking copper foldover pendant!

turquoise patina on copper

blue green patina on copper

verdigris patina on copper

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  • Thanks, Tamara! I agree – I prefer non-toxic, non-expensive, easy ways to create things! πŸ™‚ I’m kind of chemical phobic, so I feel more comfortable with things like vinegar and salt (they can make either a patina or a salad dressing)! πŸ™‚

  • Tamara says:

    I just love that this is a non-toxic way to do a patina. It uses natural ingredients and doesn’t cause harmful, noxious odours. I would definitely try this. Thank you, Rena!

  • Naomi says:

    I just had a verdigris discussion on Monday. Naturally occurring verdigris is TOXIC!!!! I’m unsure about the toxicity of this process, but considering it is still a chemical reation causing the verdigris, I’m assuming it still is, and I have no idea if the poison will leach through the sealer. Also, naturally ocurring verdigris is a form of metal ‘cancer’, it eats away at the metal weakening it and can be passed on to other metal pieces.

  • Barbara says:

    Thanks for this great tip. Did you know that by adding some lemon juice and some flour (to turn it into a paste) to the mix it’s also an excellent cleaner for copper? Since I use a lot of recycled copper from roofing jobs I’ve had to find a non toxic way to clean the copper. the moment this stuff hits the metal it cleans it on the spot! Amazing stuff!!!

  • Crystelle says:

    It’s amazing how it grows. I am in awe….

    hugs x

  • Gypsea says:

    Excellant tutorial start to finish! I just subscribed to your RSS feed.

  • Gabs says:

    This looks great! I dipped my copper pendant in the vinegar/salt solution and waited for over 5 hours. The patina was a beautiful colour and covered all the copper. I gently rinsed it under water… but it all disappeared!! How can I keep some of the turquoise patina as in your photo?

  • Hi Gabs! I’m guessing here, since I didn’t see your pendant – it sounds like your salt had started turning blue, but the metal underneath it hadn’t started developing a patina yet. So when you washed off the blue salt, there was no blue on the metal.

    My salt turned wildly blue within a few hours, but when I wiped away a bit of the salt, I saw that the metal itself hadn’t started acquiring a patina at all yet.

    So I dabbed a bit more vinegar and salt on the wiped-away spot and let the patina develop undisturbed for another day or two (I don’t remember now exactly how long I left it).

    So if I were you I would try it again – and this time leave it on for 2 days.

    Also, as I mentioned above, this patina is fragile and crumbly. So rinse the salt mixture off your pendant VERY gently under a thin stream of water, and don’t scrub.

    Then let your pendant air-dry undisturbed (you can blow-dry it to speed things up), and spray each side of the completely-dry pendant with 3 light coats of clear lacquer (drying each coat thoroughly before spraying the next coat).

    One other possibility: Some copper products (including pre-made pendants and other jewelry components) are sometimes lacquered by the manfacturer – and because of the lacquer, the metal won’t acquire a patina.

    I hope this helps, Gabs! Please let me know how your patina turns out! πŸ™‚

  • Amy Contardi says:

    Can the salt & vinegar be used on other metals besides copper?
    How about baked Fimo clay pieces?
    All the pieces displayed are so beautiful.
    I’m inspired!

  • Jane says:

    Yes, salt and vinegar works magic! With the end of the copper penny in sight, I was inspired to make my daughter a penny bracelet for Valentine’s Day. It consisted of her family’s birth years, as well as one for the year that they were married. I drilled holes in each penny and attached them to a heavy triple linked copper chain with a thick copper wire jump ring. SHE LOVED IT! Even if she never wears it, it made a nice keepsake. If inclined, one could make it a set: wearer’s birth year EARRINGS!

  • Jane says:

    P.S. Instead of steel wool, polish with a pink rubber eraser. It doesn’t scratch as deeply.

  • jacqueline says:

    I use fingernail buffers for all polishing and scrubbing of metals. they are magic. there is one side that makes scratches, another that smoothes them, and another 2 that polish them, when one follows the other. if you dont want deep scratches i suggest fingernail buffers. they are 1.00 each at walmart and i use one for anywhere from 5-10 pieces, depending on if i used paint or not.

  • I love your Rustic Foldover Pendant Tutorial. It is easy and looks gorgeous!!
    Thank you for sharing with us.

  • Doris says:

    Thanks so much for the wonderful information. We are starting a new business and I needed something different for my jewelry. I wanted something that is different than what most of the other jewelry makers are using.

  • Joye says:

    Thanks so much for this wonderful tutorial. I’m out of ammonia and wasn’t sure about the salt & vinegar–is there anything that CAN’T be done with vinegar? And thank you, Amy for asking about other metals. I work with brass and gunmetal a lot, and a few others.

  • Thank you for your lovely comments – you’re all very welcome! πŸ™‚ And thanks also for all the additional great tips!

  • Wyn says:

    Wonderful insight into your work – love the texture and inspiration you have generated!! Whoo – fantastic thanks!!

  • Mary Kasal says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU, THANK YOU AGAIN. It is so refreshing to find another artist willing to share the things you have learned over the years versus those who feel that hording information somehow makes them special. Whew, this project is going to be great for me as an artist but I can also see the use of this as a way to show especially girls, how chemistry is relevant in their daily life. A zillion years ago when I was in High School, I was totally turned off to subjects like chemistry and math. I created a program for girls in disadvantaged areas teaching them beading techniques incorporating math into the program. This was and is a real world method to show girls how important it is to pay attention in school especially in the subjects that have never had a “rap” of being exciting or fun e.g. math and doing a beading project correctly. I now have a way to show high school girls how chemistry can be relevant, and even an exciting way to create their own pieces of art. Mind you, I am not a certified teacher, I am disabled living on a tight budget with my husband and our 3 cats. I use my own funds to come up with the materials to create home grown programs showing young girls with few options and not a lot of hope for what they want to do when they grow up that someone does give a #@%$$# about how they do in school and tries to show them through these programs the relevance of a good education to their lives as they grow up. So, you keep these ideas coming and of course I will give you your “props”. If anyone out there has any other ideas or a few old beads rolling around and would like to help out some girls in Milwaukee let me know. Thanks again. blessings

  • You’re very welcome, Mary! Thank you for your lovely comment. I’m glad to hear you’ve found so much value in this patina tutorial! I agree, high school science would have been more interesting with projects like this one. πŸ™‚

    Be sure to see the other patina / oxidizing tutorials here – there are several more that use ordinary household items.

    Get your mad jewelry science lab ready! πŸ™‚

  • Kelly says:

    A very nice idea I will be trying for the new year!!!!

  • Lisa Run says:

    Always amaze with your skills and informations….i am a beginner in jewelry making (for sale) but with your guidance ….I am sure can make it…Thank you so much. will show you later my vinegar/salt patina project.

  • Julia says:

    Rena, I love this and actually did the ammonia patina yesterday on some copper washers. After drying, I sealed them w/ craft spray, but the color of blue no longer shows up. I notice here, that you say to wait several days before sealing. Should I have waited before I sealed he ammonia patina as well? Thank you so much for your tutorials. I have learned so much from them and it inspires me to new heights!

  • Rob Rogers says:

    I’ve just done this over the last two days. I used a scrap piece of copper pipe, cleaned it up, filed down the edges, then used steel wool to get back to the bare metal. I followed the instructions here, but soaked paper towels in the solution, wiped my cuff bracelet with them, sprinkled salt over it, then sat the bracelet on a couple of wadded towels, draped a couple more over the top making sure the whole outer surface was covered (I didn’t want any patina on the inside) then put it in a plastic container with the lid on and left it in the shed for around 24 hours. I had a peek at it every couple of hours until my girlfriend came home, and as it is a Xmas gift for her I had to leave it in the shed until the next day. The results were brilliant! Ideally I think I could have left it for another day as there isn’t a huge amount of green patina left, but there is enough, and after applying some car wax it doesn’t seem to be coming off now. Thank you so much for this, I know she’ll love it. I took a couple of pics, but don’t know how to send/post them.

  • Hi Rob, thanks for sharing your experience with this project! I’m sure your girlfriend will be surprised and thrilled! We’d love to see how your bracelet turned out – you can share your photos by submitting them here. πŸ™‚

  • Holly Jaye says:

    I have also seen this done by putting the copper piece in a bag of salt & vinegar chips (the small individual size, as not to waste too many). The color changes over a few days from the darker brown green to finally the bright turquoise color like yours. And NO! YOU CAN’T EAT THE CHIPS AFTERWARD…toss them all. I love when home-made works!

  • maryam says:

    Hi, I study in university. You helped me. I’m Iranian and in my country we had to pay money to learn patina. You helped me with share your information.

  • Gina says:

    I loved how my patina turned out, but I painted on a clear coat sealer and it bubbled up and looks awful:( Why?

  • Allison says:

    Trying it now! The smell was rather overpowering for me but I found a lid quickly πŸ™‚ Has anyone tried a coating like sculpey glaze or perhaps clear nail polish? I don’t want to lose any patina as I just love the end results you posted. New to wire and just loving it, people are so helpful with sharing information. Thank you for sharing this information!!! Now to wait…….

  • Fran Noerr says:

    I just found you! I’m a single mom of 5, so supplies are always tight. Thank you so much for posting these beautiful ways of making jewelry that anyone can afford. My brother is a roofer so copper scrap is plentiful! Thank you again I can’t wait to get started!

  • Colette says:

    I bought a copper bracelet 25 years ago That I wear a lot, with time it lost all his patina , with your method I was able to restore it Thank you so much for your perfect step by step explanation.

  • meenakshi says:

    Can we do patina on stone or a terracotta. .thanks for sharing your knowledge

  • Hi Meenakshi, I have not tried this patina on stone or terracotta. My guess is that it’s not likely to work. However, the best way to find out is to use a scrap piece of stone or terracotta that you don’t mind experimenting on, and try this patina (or another patina process) on it and see what happens! πŸ™‚

  • Maria says:

    It’s lovely!Thank you Rena!

  • Miguel Pacheco says:

    Wow! I finally found a place with simple suggestions and the experiences of other artists to boot!

    Don’t stop doing what you’re doing!

    Miguel P.

  • Nika van der Meer says:

    I’ve been working with various patinas for several years. Copper and brass blue/green patinas in particular seem to form a flaky layer than can be easily dislodged as opposed to the tarnish on silver, for example. After I get the effect I want, I use a commercially available sealer that actually bonds the patina to the metal. After spraying on a couple coats, you can rub the patina vigorously with no flaking, and it doesn’t change the color at all. If this website will permit the name to be published, I will be glad to share it.

  • Hi Nika, yes, please share the name your sealer. Thanks! I agree, I’ve had excellent results with regular acrylic sealing sprays made for general crafting purposes (available in craft stores).

  • Chloe says:

    This is beautiful!
    Does it work with brass as well?

  • Annie says:

    This technique works SO great! I liked it so much on the first piece that I have a second one drying right now. It makes a fantastic turquoise color, wow! Very cool, thank you for sharing!

  • Jeff Guerrero says:

    To the author, I want to try this on my 1970 VW Beetle, but i wanted to know if this will still work on surface of the vehicle since it is not made of copper.

  • Hi Jeff, thanks for asking. I have never used this patina on a vehicle. Since your car is not made of copper, I don’t think it would work. And since it’s a vintage car, I would not experiment on it if I were you. πŸ™‚ However, you might go to a salvage yard and get a piece of an old VW Beetle (a door or whatever), and experiment with the patina on that if you like.

  • Thom says:

    You mentioned this won’t work for lacquered copper. If I remove the lacquer by boiling the piece I want to patina in baking soda water–as other sites suggest to remove lacquer–will this salt and vinegar technique work for me properly?
    Thanks, great tutorial either way!

  • Hi Thom, thanks for asking! I’ve never boiled lacquer off of metal, so I don’t really know what results you might get. The best way to find out is to experiment with a scrap piece of your lacquered copper that you wouldn’t mind if it got messed up – and use it as the “guinea pig” to test the procedure you’re considering. If you decide to give it a try, please let us know how it works! πŸ™‚

  • Sharon B. says:

    Did anyone ever post what brand of sealers work with ammonia (blue/green) patinas on copper? I tried regular lacquer and it changed the color too much. I have a matte sealer from rustoleum that I’m going to try next, but if anyone has tried something and had success with minimal color change I would love to know what it is…

  • jane says:

    Thank you for all this information, it has been very helpful.

  • Rosa Elvira Melo says:

    Wow, thank you so much! It is amazing

  • Pedro Neto says:

    Hi, thanks for all the tips here.
    I might have missed, but this color is what i’m looking for in my brass case watch….the dial is blue, so getting a blue/green patina will work great for my piece.
    Is this the best way or do you recommend anything else?

    Once again thanks for your time and nice posts! Keep it up!


  • Hi Pedro, thanks for your kind words!

    You can also color metals with alcohol inks (see my tutorial, Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink, and with Gilders Paste.

    We have additional patina tutorials in this category here: Patinas and Oxidizing.

    I always recommend that you first test patinas / oxidizing / other coloring methods on a scrap of the metal you’ll be using for your final project, so you’ll have a good idea of how the results might look before you do the procedure on your finished piece.

  • Ronda says:

    can you add various metals to the batch? Instead of only adding one pendant to the bowl can you add more, for more jewelry creations? Lovely pieces going to have to try!!!

  • Ronda, thanks for asking! Yes, you can put more than one item in the batch. Generally it’s best to make sure the pieces aren’t touching each other, so each gets exposed to the patina solution without anything blocking parts of it.

  • Trying this right now. Thanks for sharing.

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