I am by no means a chemist, nor a science major, nor even a chef. But I do like to research, and I do like to compile information (thankfully my book genre is historical fiction so I get to channel that nutty history obsession habit). Cleaning pure metal copper cookware is a topic that fascinates me, mostly because so many people don’t know some of the basics, and it’s truly incredibly easy.
I am not going to get into cleaning of interiors, as tin-lined copper cookware requires different cleaning than stainless lined copper cookware. That’ll be another post. So to be safe, generally plan to use all the methods below on the copper body, but not the insides.
Here are some favorites, or are listed highly on forums. If you like having copper that looks vintage or has a deep patina, you should completely ignore the rest of this post. If you like to clean your copper cookware, or your copper sink, or your collectable copper molds, read on. And, as always, I welcome thoughts, feedback, and even results!
- Organic copper cookware cleaner: This one’s easy. Use organic copper ketchup! Or regular ketchup works too. This method generally is best for newer copper, or copper that doesn’t have much patina on it, as it is relatively superficial and won’t dig deep into the copper crystals to pull out the oxidation (see, I had to get some sort of metal geekness in there). **because this is just food, you could use it on the tin or stainless interior, though it won’t react and give you the same polish as it will to the copper.
- One step further: Use ketchup with fine sea salt (make sure there’s no ingredient in the salt that is a silicate which can scratch the copper)
- Our friends at Brooklyn Copper Cookware recommend doing a paste of flour, ketchup, salt and a dash of vinegar to create an even more intense and thicker paste for deeper, but natural, polish.
- Using half a lemon with salt has also been used to clean the copper. Or lemon and vinegar. Measurements vary. Generally elbow grease is needed!
- Tarnex followed by MAAS. Clean the copper pot (not the interior lining) with the Tarnex solution and then quickly use MAAS, a polishing paste you can buy on Amazon. Don’t wait too long after using the Tarnex to polish, as the Tarnex will only get the oxidation off, but it will return relatively quickly without the polish application.
- Wright’s Copper Polish has been touted to give a great polish job on the copper as it is not abrasive.
- Many people swear by some of the following polishes as well for the copper exterior: Bar Keeper’s Friend, Twinkle, Brasso, Wright’s Copper Polish, Flitz, or Red Bear.
- The master smith I apprentice under turned me onto Eve Stone Antique’s Copper & Brass polish. That stuff makes copper look like a mirror, plus it holds a shine for a LONG time.
If your copper is beyond anything you can do in the comfort of your home (or the ventilated area of your garage), you can always send it off to be professionally polished. Many tinners/re-tinners will do that after they re-work the interior. For those of you with stainless steel interiors, simply finding a local coppersmith or metalsmith might do the trick, or you can send your copper to us at House Copper for polishing!
Happy shining to you all!