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weikeld
08-03-2005, 02:14 PM
Ok, maybe i'm just plain lazy, but are there any good alternatives to polishing copper vessels? I use Wright's copper cleaner now.
Yeah, I don't know. I've heard people tell me about A-B using crazy mixtures of DE, yeast, and what not, so if there are any alternatives, let me know.
Thanks everybody! Peace.

zbrew2k
08-03-2005, 05:09 PM
I should charge for this information!

Copper is a GIANT pain to keep clean, and an even bigger pain to keep polished...but when it shines WOW!

Wrights Copper Cleaner contains coarse grit that scratches copper. Wrights Brass Polish works better for brass and copper (present on many showpiece brewhouses). If your BH is not showpiece condition, then try TarnX but the stuff is nasty and it will eat through gloves in a hurry. Next alternative is any acid. ProKleen from Diversy and a green scrubbie pad will turn that copper bright again (do NOT use on mirror polished copper). You can get a foaming unit that turns prokleen into a sticky foam, just spray on, wait 30 min, and rinse off with a hose. Maybe some touch up.

Now if you own the showpiece....
1. Wrights Brass Polish & Baby Diapers. Sweat Heavily. Repeat several times per week.

2. Flitz Metal Polish, Synthetic Polisher & buffing Ball, and sweat also... Use some of the microfiber towels, and maybe diapers as well. http://www.flitz.com

3. http://www.cyclotoolmakers.com/polishers.shtml and Flitz. Type in "cyclo polisher" in google and many hits for autodetailing come up. Rocking polisher made to not scratch clear coat finishes. You can use some auto polishes also on mirror copper but most are too coarse.

4. Combo of above.

Request extra pay from your boss for keeping the showpiece in such great condition!

Good luck, B

PS: Those with copper in their brewery OWE me for this ... :cool:

Moonlight
08-04-2005, 01:16 AM
I have the old Hart/T Kemper kettle. My old coppersmith, Fred Zaft, just said the old-timers used yeast and coal ash to polish. I don't have much of that around the brewery, but dark beer yeast (mild acid and reducing agent) works great, especially with an overused limp green scrubby. Probably the abraision of the ash or scrubby could be replaced by DE. It is critical to follow the contour of the vessel or grain of the copper, and never cross your previous stokes at an angle, or it will look like crap. If you use a strong acid, it will just dull over quickly. Maybe fine to take a picture, but a royal pain for function.
He said to use beer (he preferred Anchor Steam and said Bud didn't work) as a varnish to keep the luster. This is not meant for an impossible to maintain mirror finish, but a warm lusterous glow.
Phil Loen from JVNW told me of an installation where the copper-clad vessels were taken to an auto body shop and clear coated.

rudge75
08-04-2005, 08:07 AM
I've heard of using Coca Cola to do the job, not that I've ever used it myself. Just curious, though, why wouldn't you just polish it up and then clear coat right away to save the trouble later? Does anyone actally enjoy polishing the copper?

zbrew2k
08-04-2005, 10:42 AM
Early in my career I heard the old time brewers say they used citric acid, yeast, and burlap (from Hop Bags) to clean copper, and threw in some DE if it was really tarnished. Coca Cola would work pretty good, after all it is mostly Phosphoric acid.

Clear coating is ok if your vessel will never get touched... In practice though, the finish gets dull over time, and inevitably the clear coat gets scratched. Then the scratches get tarnished, and if you polish them, the scratches get bigger, and so on...so in the end it looks good only after it is clear coated, and it is downhill from there.

Cleaning Copper - Who likes it? :eek: If you don't like cleaning you're in the wrong business! Copper takes extra effort, but worth it if the unit is mirror finished. If not make everything stainless.

gitchegumee
08-04-2005, 10:30 PM
The copper clad brewhouses I've worked on from DME maintain their beautiful shine for YEARS without any polishing. They use a clear coat of some kind. Just keep strong acids and volatile hydrocarbons away from the brewhouse. I've only used dish soap and a soft rag to keep them spotless and bright. On the other hand, I've worked on a brewhouse that had no such clear coat and it went ugly fast. We tried a clear spray "paint" with limited success. Needed to strip and repaint every 4-6 months. Must be a better product. Try contacting DME for their secret. Cheers!

NinkasiSwain
02-07-2009, 04:39 PM
We're using a few gallons of spent yeast mixed with a few splashes of 96% sulfuric acid. It works well, but I don't understand WHY -- and can't get/find a good explanation. Any insight into the chemistry and/or mechanics of it? Is the yeast "popped open"to get to the good stuff, is there a reaction takes place, and/or is the yeast some sort of low-grade abrasive?

Moonlight
02-07-2009, 06:46 PM
Yeast is very reductive, the opposite of oxidizing...discolored copper is mostly oxidized. Traditionally coppers were brightened with yeast and coal ash from the kettle fire. The ash would have the abrasiveness. I would think a bit of DE with the yeast would provide the mild abrasive that would speed the work.

GlacierBrewing
02-08-2009, 05:00 PM
We're a production brewery so a bright copper is usually not near the top of my list. But when we've had public events in the brewhouse, I've always used a dilute mixture of StarSan (5 star chemicals) on it. You can literally throw it on, hose it off and see a remarkable difference. For true shine I wipe it on with a green scrubbie.
my two cents....
Dave

Woolsocks
02-08-2009, 05:44 PM
Not worth it -- our copper looks like crap and we just live with that. Hours of cleaning to make it good, then gets nasty so fast. Forget it! Just my $0.02.

(Unless of course someone has a quick way to clean it that lasts more than 2 days... then I'm all ears!)

beermkr
02-09-2009, 06:17 AM
I have a DME system so the copper is in great shape but i just use Satin Shine from sysco on it. It works on all the metal and keeps a nice coating on it to make any spots easy to remove later. On side of the MT got very discolored in the brewery where it came from so I used Brasso on it and the shine came right back.

Mike

NinkasiSwain
02-09-2009, 07:56 AM
Thanks, Moonlight. Been too long since my chemistry days. Just started brewing over here, and think we do this weekly(??) for the brewhouse and other "antique" copper delights they still use here -- no questions asked by lowly me; just getting my bearings here. But I like the idea of reusing something already highly-available and more-or-less free. Oh, and no DE here. But I'm not positive they don't use a few other "products" as well yet - I was busy on the other side of the place when I first heard of it. Will keep my eyes peeled the next few weeks.

Moonlight
02-09-2009, 09:57 AM
It is even more than just reusing...If you use a strong acid to brighten the copper, it will do so immediately, however it will also tarnish almost immediately. If you use something milder so there is a warm glow but not brilliance to the copper, that luster will last far longer.
Using a product like Satin Shine or Shiela Shine (usually sold for stainless) will maintain the glow a bit longer. I would guess they are basically an oil that provides shine and slows the oxygen from getting to the copper and re-oxidizing it. Even high final extract beer on the copper will help seal it to some extent.

pubbrewer
02-09-2009, 08:57 PM
I have found on most brewpub copper kettles that Mothers Chrome Mag Wheel Polish works better than all brasso type polishing products out there. If the copper is really tarnished try using the mild acid wash previously mentioned then the Chrome mag wheel polish with or without the speed ball. Mirror finnish with some elbow grease even from really bad copper. I then use car wax to coat over the copper leaving a protective layer that helps bead the water that typically starts the tarnishing all over again. Once a month and your shining like new. Thank our local San Diego stainless welding guru Jeff Gregory for the tip!

liammckenna
02-10-2009, 04:56 AM
Currently using a product called PEEK on our 10 bbl copper brewhouse. Tried acid washes of various sorts, DE/yeast/acid mixtures, TARNX (which was quite disastrous BTW). Invevitably, we'd come in the next day and the coppers would look 'dirty' again.

We work in small areas. One rag to put it on, 10lb bag of rags handy to take it off and buff. Fantastic mirror polish with a little elbow grease. The first time is the hardest (2 persons - 5 hours).

Successive times are more of a maintenance thing and are much easier (1 person - 2 hours). Unlike everything else I've tried, shine seems more 'durable'. We also keep clean rags on hand in the brewhouse to wipe up small spills before they have a chance to dry.

I think the key to the other acid based methods I've tried is to rinse thoroughly and then dry or buff the copper. Perhaps we would have had better results

Pax.

Liam

bcofresi
02-10-2009, 10:29 PM
The first brewpub I brewed for had a used JVNW system with a heavily oxidized mirror finish copper sheathing and brass bands. Brewer friend Andy Klein, then working at Sam Peterson's Sacramento Brewing Co recommended Red Bear Copper Polish. It is available at fine homeware and some old time hardware stores. It is often the only product suggested for high end copper pots and pans. It is a very soft white powder (oxalic acid). I used a cheap orbital car polisher, wet the terry cloth bonnet and sprinkled on some Red Bear. Wow! Then I simply rinsed off and carefully used a new foam squeegee and soft towel to dry. I then applied car wax with the buffer. It really doesn't take very long at all. Any non-cleaning car wax will help seal the copper from rapid oxidation (and irritating fingerprints). Brasso, or rubbing compounds will ruin a mirror finish. The sysco metal polish also works excellent and is easy to get. The second system I brewed on I would put the sysco polish and the car wax on the polishing pad at the same time. The copper would look great for a good couple of months.

NinkasiSwain
02-18-2010, 12:33 AM
So, thought I'd update since I saw a new post on another thread...

Dunno the effectiveness on HIGHLY soiled copper, but when I mentioned previously about cleaning with (fresh) spent yeast and a (very) little sulfuric acid, it is highly important to use a decent amount of flowing water - prewet with water, clean, and rinse with water before what you've just cleaned can dry. Drying yeast is bad. Makes it look like a rainbow. And the abrasive can in fact be a very little DE (or non-reactive lightly abrasive cleaner/material) applied to the (natural fiber) brush. The harder you scrub, the more tiny "cuts" you'll put in the copper - making the copper more or less brilliant in light.

Water, water, everywhere.

NinkasiSwain
02-18-2010, 01:41 AM
...and think Karate Kid for application.

Random cuts are prettier'n non-...

kai
02-18-2010, 02:19 AM
My first thought:

I <3 stainless steel.

BMXFRANK
06-16-2010, 12:18 PM
I was cleaning my copper today and started thinking about this thread so I came back to read it. the issue I have is when my copper is "clean" it doesnt look "copper", it looks "pink" and I hate it. Id rather it be slightly tarnished and look like that copper penny color, used and in working order. When its perfect it looks fake in my opinion. Anyway, when cleaning with acids or tarnex it looks "clean" but pink, and not really shiny. Any thoughts on how to get it shiny too (brasso after water rinse) and maybe not the color of a new born pig?

Sulfur
06-16-2010, 04:43 PM
Well, "pink" is better than purple! I've used some cleaners that unless they're completely rinsed, they turn the copper purple!

gitchegumee
05-08-2011, 12:04 AM
Any new techniques with restoring the luster of copper? I'm trying to find a way to protect the finish once I get it. After re-reading this thread, it sounds like car wax is the best clear-coat option. I'd really like to find a protective coating for shiny copper that keeps it from oxidizing. Any input is appreciated.

Moonlight
05-08-2011, 12:45 AM
Car wax may work best but it sounds wrong!
Perhaps you will be OK with the finishes available for stainless in commercial kitchens. It doesn't last as long as wax on a car, but is easy to reapply.
It gives sort of a softer (almost wet-looking) shine, and it looks cool under dimmer lights.

Scott M
05-08-2011, 08:09 AM
Don't think I would use car wax, but after the copper is polished you could coat it with lacquer to preserve the finish, like those described here http://www.electrophoretic.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13&Itemid=16.

gitchegumee
05-08-2011, 10:50 PM
Why doesn't car wax appeal? Sounds perfectly legit to me. The electrophoresis sounds interesting, but I think a dunk tank the size of my brewhouse would be unrealistic. I'm a bit nervous about the varnish/laquer type coatings, as it seems that stripping and refinishing would be difficult.

BrewinLou
05-09-2011, 05:54 AM
I personally hate the look of clear coated copper in a high traffic area. It gets beat up and peels/chips off and that area tarnishes and the rest just looks polished. It is copper it does not need a finish.

Scott M
05-09-2011, 08:23 AM
Like any finish, they have to be maintained. You don't buy a new car and wash and wax it once, you wash it once a week and wax every other wash.

If a polish and wax routine is applied, I see nothing wrong with waxing. Remember that caustics and acidic sterilants will strip the wax and reveal the bare copper to the elements in the brewery. If you have the time and personel to perform this non-brewing maintenance, go for it.

I think Brian Cofresi nailed it back in post #16, 7 years ago.

gitchegumee
10-18-2011, 01:15 AM
So, how does one clean the inside of a kettle that has a copper onion dome and a sprayball? Both acids and bases bode ill for the exposed copper.

liammckenna
10-18-2011, 07:31 AM
Percarbonate like PBW for regular cleaning?

Non-oxidizing acids (phosphoric or hydrochoric or acetic) for heavy oxidation?

Never done it. We have a stainless cone inside the copper skin dome of ours.

Best guess.

Pax.

Liam

Hofer
03-21-2015, 12:17 AM
...TARNX (which was quite disastrous BTW).
Hi Liam,

Our copper is very heavily soiled and tarnished. We need to clean it for the first time and consider TARN X, so what was disastrous with it?
Any other suggestions?

Thank you.

Leo

Libira Brewery,
Haifa, Israel

liammckenna
03-22-2015, 05:41 AM
Hi Liam,

Our copper is very heavily soiled and tarnished. We need to clean it for the first time and consider TARN X, so what was disastrous with it?
Any other suggestions?

Thank you.

Leo

Libira Brewery,
Haifa, Israel

Perhaps we did not completely polish off the residue, Leo, but the next day, it was looking much worse than when we polished it the day before.

"Peek" is the product we currently use once every quarter year. Plus lots of elbow grease and a 10lb bag of rags. We once tried using a rotary car polishing unit (hand held). Not good. Unless you change the pads every five minutes, you run the risk of etching swirls in the copper.

Pax.

Liam

Hofer
03-22-2015, 12:27 PM
Perhaps we did not completely polish off the residue, Leo, but the next day, it was looking much worse than when we polished it the day before.

"Peek" is the product we currently use once every quarter year. Plus lots of elbow grease and a 10lb bag of rags. We once tried using a rotary car polishing unit (hand held). Not good. Unless you change the pads every five minutes, you run the risk of etching swirls in the copper.

Pax.

Liam

Liam many thanks indeed.

whitemarshbrew
03-22-2015, 04:02 PM
There is a polish called Bright Boy and nothing works better. Very easy to use and will polish copper in any condition.

Hofer
03-25-2015, 12:59 PM
The copper clad brewhouses I've worked on from DME maintain their beautiful shine for YEARS without any polishing. They use a clear coat of some kind. Just keep strong acids and volatile hydrocarbons away from the brewhouse. I've only used dish soap and a soft rag to keep them spotless and bright. On the other hand, I've worked on a brewhouse that had no such clear coat and it went ugly fast. We tried a clear spray "paint" with limited success. Needed to strip and repaint every 4-6 months. Must be a better product. Try contacting DME for their secret. Cheers!
Hi Gitchegumee, how did you strip the clear coat you had and what did you repaint it with? Thank you.

pubbrewer
03-25-2015, 01:19 PM
I too have a DME tank that has the clear coat, half of which is discolored. I would like to know the best way to strip all of it off.

I have had excellent result using these products to recoat the surface of many copper tanks

http://www.everbritecoatings.com/how_to_protect_metal_picture.htm