Vinegar and Salt Patina
by Rena Klingenberg. © 2003-Present Rena Klingenberg. All Rights Reserved
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.
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. 🙂
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:
- Liquid dish soap (such as Dawn or whatever brand).
- Several paper towels.
- Regular household white vinegar.
- #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.).
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:
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.
Check on your pendant after an hour or so. You should have some color developing:
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:
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.
When Your Vinegar & Salt Patina
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!