With the resurgence of vintage styles, seeing copper in the kitchen is becoming increasingly popular. There are copper bottomed pots, copper kettles, cups and jugs. Though very beautiful, the care for copper can be labor intensive compared to its steel and aluminum counterparts. Some copper products have a lacquer finish that prevent it from tarnishing, to clean these products just rinse with warm soapy water. Untreated copper tarnishes because of the reaction that occurs when it is exposed to air. When exposed to air it turns a dull penny color, when exposed to water the tarnish takes on a blueish color. This tarnish is called “Patina”, the patina helps to protect the copper from corrosion, even though this occurs as a form of protection, most people prefer their copper nice and shiny. Here are some chemical free ways that you can restore your copper just by using things that you probably have in your kitchen pantry.
For copper that is slightly tarnished with not very stubborn stains, ketchup is a quick and easy polishing method. Quickly wash the copper with soapy water and dry thoroughly, then apply ketchup and allow it to sit on the copper for 5-20 minutes depending on how stubborn the tarnish is. Rinse off and dry completely.
Lemon and Salt
Cut lemon in half and apply salt directly to the lemon half. Rub the copper with the lemon. Be sure to use the lemon directly on the surface instead of a rag or sponge. Continue to rub the surface and apply salt as needed until the tarnish is removed.
For more difficult areas form a paste by squeezing lemon juice into a bowl and mixing it with salt. Apply the paste directly onto a lemon half and rub it on the copper. Allow the paste to sit on more difficult or hard to reach areas. Rinse the pot clean with warm water. Dry thoroughly. For additional shine, buff with a dry, clean cloth .
These methods are not recommended for lacquered copper. If the surface of your copper is shiny and does not change to a dull brown color, then it is likely coated with a lacquer finish which can be cleaned with warm soapy water.