My mom had it figured out. When a crowd surrounds, employ critical mass to help. Who else but my mom would have put all of us kids to work one day up at the lake polishing her copper? You might call it child labor. She would call it taking advantage of a good opportunity!
OK, maybe it was a rainy day, hence the lack of rebellion. Nonetheless, everyone seemed to get into it. (Well, my aunt observed and I got into taking the photos!
Of all the things I didn't have in copper that I really wanted, a copper boiler was one of them. I wanted it for the cottage to either set by the fire filled with wood or -- if it was too big for the spot -- to sit in the utility room next to the cat box filled with wood. We had made too many wet trips to the garage to bring in more wood on cold and rainy days. At least this way we could stock up.
So, when antique hunting with my friend Richard recently we came across one. It was $40 and Richard pointed out that the bottom seam wasn't good. He suggested asking if they had another and sure enough, another showed up at $23 -- with 20 percent off on top of that!
Not that it looked like copper. It looked more like zinc. And the handle was off (but easily replaced -- I don't plan to be moving it anyway). It was time to employ my copper polishing genes and see if I could shape it up a little.
I didn't have any copper polish but I did have Martha going for me. Long ago I remember her polishing copper using lemons and kosher salt. I'd tried this before on small pieces and it worked quite well. And, I had saved the lemons from yesterday's pesto just in case! (I put lemon juice in pesto. It rocks.)
So, there I was in my little sink with my big boiler and not enough lemons. I scrubbed and washed -- even used the Mr. Clean sponge now and then (not helpful, for once! and the scrubby end of a regular sponge. It took about two hours -- and it still needs more work but I had places to go, people to see, things to do. Here's the finished result! That one spot on one side is still pretty yucky but lots better than before!
Not bad! Here are my hints.
- First, buy more lemons than you think you'll need -- you'll always use the leftovers and it takes more than you might imagine. The same for the kosher salt. I must have ended up using at least a cup.
- Have plenty of paper towel on hand and a scrubby sponge will help, too.
- You might want to wear gloves. I didn't. The yuck will come out of my nails someday. An apron is good, too.
- If you have a spot bigger than the kitchen sink, use it. This isn't a tidy project.
The technique is simple -- wet the surface with the lemon, sprinkle over the salt and rub till the cows come home. Lather, rinse and repeat.
Have you tried other methods? I'm all ears! Any favorite polishes that bring out the glow but don't turn it into something gaudy? Share the tips!