We all have different tastes, but when we first receive our brand new copper rain chain, it usually boils down to 2 types of people.

The one who thinks: “The copper’s shine is beautiful, I’ll never allow patina to form on this beauty.”

And the one who asks: “How can I make this beauty develop a patina ASAP?”.

Read on to discover how to avoid (or intentionally pursue) the mistakes both types of people make…

Mistake #1: Preventing Patina Formation

As mentioned on an earlier post, copper rain chains are maintenance free, so I don’t recommend cleaning them or preventing the natural patina from developing because of 1 main reason: it’s this patina which ensures durability and corrosion resistance in virtually any atmosphere.

And it’s the green patina that gives a unique, lovely touch to the rain chain over the course of the years. So why battle it?

Anyway, if you still  want to keep your copper rain chain shiny and bright, I’ll share with you 3 simple methods I found useful as they appear on www.wikihow.com/Clean-Copper . Be sure to visit the site for more detailed info.

Method 1: Using a Salt-Based Scrub

mira-bozhko-237954.jpgPhoto by Mira Bozhko on Unsplash

What you’ll need:

  • Bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • Salt
  • White vinegar or lemon juice
  • Scrubbing sponge
  • Warm water
  • Soft cloth
  1. Add a few tablespoons of salt into a small bowl. This salt will scrub the tarnish away and the bowl will be used only to mix the scrub, so don’t worry about its size.
  2. Cover the salt with enough vinegar or lemon juice to make a wet paste. As a comment, lemon juice worked best for me; so you might want to try that first.
  3. Spread the scrub over the tarnished area. A thick layer works best; so if you can still see copper or tarnish, add more of the scrub.
  4. Wait 15 seconds to allow the salt and vinegar/lemon to work into the tarnish.
  5. Dampen a scrubbing sponge with white vinegar/lemon juice.
  6. Scrub the item. Go over the salt slightly using small, circular motions. This will help scrub the tarnish off.
  7. Rinse the rain chain with warm water. If there is still tarnish left, you can repeat the scrubbing process.


Method 2: Using a Flour-Based Scrub


What you’ll need:

  • Bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Warm water
  • Soft cloth
  1. Fill a bowl with 1 cup of white vinegar. The bowl will be used just for mixing the paste, so it can be any size.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the vinegar and stir it with a spoon until it dissolves.
  3. Add enough flour to the solution to make a paste. The paste should have a sauce-like consistency. Add more vinegar if it’s too thick or add more flour if it’s too thin.
  4. Spread the paste over the rain chain. You want a nice, thick coating; so you can apply it directly with your fingers or a sponge.
  5. Gently buff the item with the paste using your fingers or a sponge in small, circular motions.
  6. Leave the paste on for 15 to 60 minutes. The more tarnished the item, the longer you will have to wait.
  7. Rinse the paste off with warm water.


Method 3: Using Ketchup

 dennis-klein-129931.jpgPhoto by Dennis Klein on Unsplash

What you’ll need:

  • Ketchup
  • Sponge or soft cloth
  • Warm water
  1. Finding some ketchup. This method can get messy and uses a lot of ketchup; therefore, it’s more appropriate for smaller items. However, I’ll share it with you to give you more options.
  2. Spread some ketchup over the rain chain. Apply a medium coating of ketchup with your fingers, a paper towel, or directly from the bottle.
  3. Let the ketchup sit on the item for a few minutes to give the acids in the ketchup enough time to dissolve tarnish.
  4. Rub the tarnish with a sponge or soft cloth using small, circular motions.
  5. Rinse the ketchup off with warm water.


Mistake #2: Accelerating Patina Formation

One of the beauties of having a copper rain chain is enjoying the process through which it develops a patina; although, as we know, it may take copper 10-20 years to fully develop it.

I personally do not recommend to manipulate or accelerate this process because of the uncertainty of the patina color that will appear (green to blue) and because of the difficulty in achieving a uniform layer.

However, if you still decide to do so, I suggest for you to follow the next steps which I took from one of the 3 methods listed on the wikiHow site www.wikihow.com/Oxidize-Copper ; as it’s the one that worked best for me and the one I found easier to apply.

Oxidizing With a Liquid Solution

What you’ll need:

  • Soft cloth
  • Mild dish detergent
  • Spray bottle
  • 5 cups non-detergent ammonia
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 5 cups salt
  1. Clean the copper with a mild dish detergent and rinse off. Dry and rub the item with a soft cloth to make sure it’s completely clean. You may want to use rubber gloves (you will need them later anyway) to avoid leaving fingerprints on the rain chain, as the oil on our fingers will make it difficult for the patina to develop uniformly.
  2. Prepare a solution to achieve a green patina. WARNING: Always use rubber gloves and work in a ventilated area when handling ammonia. Safety glasses and a respirator mask are recommended. Be ready to wash your skin or eyes with running water for fifteen minutes in case of spills.
    • Mix 2 cups of white vinegar, 1.5 cups of pure non-detergent ammonia (detergent ammonia worked for me), and 0.5 cups salt. Mix them in a plastic spray bottle until the salt dissolves.
  3. Place the rain chain outdoors and spread newspaper underneath to protect the surface where it’s lying.

  4. Spray the rain chain with the solution and wait an hour to see if the patina developed. If it did, continue to spray hourly focusing on portions where the patina didn’t form. Otherwise, spray twice a day until the patina becomes visible. It’s important to leave the rain chain outside during this time to speed up the oxidation.


So the choice is yours. You can choose to avoid both mistakes or intentionally make 1 of them.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, feel free to experiment and enjoy the simple pleasure of spending some time playing around with your new copper rain chain.

Until next time, take care…

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