22.11.19

3 Easy Ways to Make Copper Patina (Green Verdigris with Household Ingredients!)

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by Robin

copper patina recipe

Last week we shared our big, fun ideas for the ugliest room in our house.  Our old basement laundry room is being transformed into our new cozy, industrial underground pub and hobby room.


It's a room that I'm really excited about because it's a space we can have so much fun in! It will be fun to play in when we're done, but also we're having a blast creating some really interesting DIY projects to make it come to life.  (You can check out our whole vision for our basement bar and craft room here.)


The first area of the room we're tackling is the staircase. Last week you saw the BEFORE: our stairs in their great-grandma chic glory. Right now they're covered in yellowing sheet vinyl top to bottom, with some very functional glued on vinyl nosing.


When our basement bathroom was being photographed last year for Better Homes and Gardens magazine the photographer's assistant nailed it: "Wow! I feel like I'm going down my grandparent's actual basement stairs here." I'm sure it was one of his more impressive shoots. (And I laughed to cover my embarrassment.)


We're finally ready for our stair makeover - and this is project #1.  Our vision is stained wood treads and eye-catching risers.  These will be copper! And not fresh, shiny new copper. They're going to be old-world aged copper with the green verdigris patina that I love.  In this post, I'm sharing 3 ways to make copper patina - subtle, green and blue. And would you believe that you've probably got all the ingredients in your home already? Kitchen chemistry is so much fun! 


3 Easy Copper Patina Recipes

The first part of my job was to figure out how to patina copper sheets.

 



I decided to experiment with the off-cut bits to get the patina just right without wasting anything.  I did three experiments with stuff I already had at home (or borrowed from my friend Judy because our shed was full of demo stuff for the dump.)


1. Subtle Copper Patina Recipe

copper patina solution
This one took the shine off the copper and added some small and very subdued green areas.


Here's what I did:

1) Made a solution with the following ratio:

  • 3 Tablespoons white vinegar (45 mL)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt (5 mL)
2) Stirred very well until the salt dissolved completely. 3) Let the copper soak for 30 minutes. 4) Removed the copper and let it dry.



** A word of caution! Use disposable equipment that you don't mind ruined.
I didn't think salt and vinegar would do such damage to my fork! (I think I heard salt and vinegar and thought: chips! Not sodium acetate and hydrogen chloride solution. Don't DIY hungry, folks.)
I learned from this mistake and used plastic tools from this point on.



2. How to turn copper green

how to turn copper green
I was a bit disappointed with that first experiment. I wanted something more striking and green. I got just that with this recipe!




Here's what I did:
1) Made a solution with the following 3:1 ratio:

  • 3 Tablespoons water (45 mL)
  • 1 Tablespoon Miracle Grow plant food (15mL) 
2) Stirred very well until the Miracle Grow dissolved completely. 3) Let the copper soak for 30 minutes. 4) Removed the copper and let it dry.  The colour will develop gradually while it dries.



2. Blue Patina on Copper


blue patina on copper
This one is pretty too!
More dramatic than #1 and more blue than #2



Here's what I did:
1) Made a solution with the following 3:1 ratio:

  • 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar (45 mL)
  • 1 Tablespoon Miracle Grow plant food (15mL) 
2) Stirred very well until the Miracle Grow dissolved completely. 3) Let the copper soak for 30 minutes. 4) Removed the copper and let it dry.  The colour will develop gradually while it dries.



My kitchen chemistry tools - not show is the plastic fork I used for stirring once I wised up.



If you want to learn even more ways to make copper patina - and every single thing there is to know about copper - check out this site.  I didn't show a few more recipes that they discuss in it, like one with boiled eggs and a couple with ammonia.  (I am weirdly odour sensitive - and avoid using scented products for fear of triggering headaches or migraines - so I chose the least stinky options.)  The egg one seemed way too involved for me to want to even try.



My plan for our copper risers is to do a mixture of the finishes.  I'm going to do recipe #1 to dull the shiny copper - for this I'll soak the pieces.  Then I'm going to use the other two finishes in certain areas of each riser. I'm going to try:
  • pooling the solution in large sections, 
  • using droppers to create random patterns, and
  • spritz some areas with a misting bottle.
Each copper sheet has two sides - so I'll have double the choice of riser for the final stair makeover. Room for error gives me much more confidence to play!



I'm excited and nervous about how this will all turn out. The sweet spot for really interesting creative projects, no? 



Stay tuned to follow along on our renovation journey! Don't miss a thing by subscribing to our weekly-ish newsletter here.



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