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cleaning the copper

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  • #16
    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.
    Brian Cofresi


    • #17
      Cleaning copper w/ spent yeast.

      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.
      Last edited by NinkasiSwain; 02-18-2010, 02:46 AM.


      • #18
        ...and think Karate Kid for application.

        Random cuts are prettier'n non-...


        • #19
          My first thought:

          I <3 stainless steel.


          • #20
            pink vs. copper

            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?
            "Uncle" Frank
            Frank Fermino
            Brewer I, Redhook, Portsmouth, NH
            Writer, Yankee Brew News, New England
            Wise-ass, Everywhere, Always


            • #21
              Well, "pink" is better than purple! I've used some cleaners that unless they're completely rinsed, they turn the copper purple!


              • #22
                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.
                Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--


                • #23
                  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.


                  • #24
                    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


                    • #25
                      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.
                      Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--


                      • #26
                        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.
                        Joel Halbleib
                        Partner / Zymurgist
                        Hive and Barrel Meadery
                        6302 Old La Grange Rd
                        Crestwood, KY


                        • #27
                          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.


                          • #28
                            What about the &quot;onion dome&quot; interior?

                            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.
                            Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--


                            • #29
                              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.


                              Liam McKenna


                              • #30
                                TARN X for cleaning heavily soiled and tarnished copper?

                                Originally posted by liammckenna View Post
                                ...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.


                                Libira Brewery,
                                Haifa, Israel