How to age metal

October 31, 2012

How to age metalThe desire to age the metal does not occur to motorists or builders, but needlewomen and designers now very often resort to this method in order to obtain interesting details in interior design or decorative elements. The surface of the aged metal acquires an interesting structure and various color shades - roughness and play of colors give the product solidity and originality.

Artificially aged metal is quite simple. In the elementary case, it can be put in a place with high humidity and after some time (weeks will pass) the product will be covered with rust and will look like an old thing. The method is simple, but time consuming, so at the moment most of the time for aging metals use different chemicals: nitric acid, bicarbonate soda, drying oil, or active acids. Experts are constantly finding new and new ways of decorative metal aging, but the most proven and affordable recipes have come down to us from ancient times.

An important point in this process is the need for proper application of chemicals to certain metals. And since we are talking about aggressive substances, then when aging metals, it is necessary to use personal protective equipment - gloves, glasses, respirators.

Metal Aging Technology

  • Before starting work, the metal must be cleaned of any contamination. Success of work depends on preliminary preparation, therefore it is necessary to clean the surface carefully. It is sometimes even recommended to anneal the metal to remove residual tar or other substances.
  • If parts are made of copper or brass, then it must first be bleached with a weak solution of sulfuric acid. And iron is treated with a more concentrated solution of sulfuric acid. Aluminum products are treated with two-fold soda. Regardless of the way the parts are processed, after completion of work, it is necessary to thoroughly rinse under running water and clean with a stiff brush.
  • How to age metal

  • Nitric acid is used to work with brass and copper. Since the evaporation of this acid is harmful to humans, special care should be taken, and it is generally not recommended to work with this substance indoors. It is better to go to work with metal on the street.
  • Acid is applied to the surface of a metal product with a cotton swab wound on a wooden stick. The reaction to the substance will be noticeable immediately - the metal surface will change color from saturated green to black. After the reaction has occurred, the metal must be heated until complete evaporation of the composition. Then the product is washed under running hot running water.
  • The color of the finished product can range from olive green to brown and from light gray to black. It depends on the concentration of acid, the duration of contact with it, the degree of heating. The resulting effect is quite resistant, so you can polish or sand the part.
  • If iron parts become old, they are thoroughly cleaned, smeared with linseed oil, and then heated to 300-400 degrees Celsius. For uniform surface treatment, it is better to heat the part in the furnace. If you need a bright tone details, then apply nitric acid.
  • For processing aluminum products using kerosene or soot. These substances emphasize the structure of this metal and give it a beautiful decorative look.

The method of rapid aging of metal products

Often for various creative ideas, antique buttons, needles, pins, nails, horseshoes, etc. are needed. Such metal products can be aged quickly using vinegar (1/4 cup) and salt (2 tablespoons).

  1. Both substances are mixed and a metal part is immersed in the resulting solution.
  2. The composition is stirred, covered with a lid with holes and left for 12 hours.
  3. Then the parts are taken out and dried on the newspaper.
  4. If excess rust has formed, you can clean them with sandpaper.


For working with a solution, it is better to take glass or plastic dishes resistant to chemicals.
Mixing components must be a wooden, plastic or porcelain spoon.
The container needs more volume, because after immersing the metal part in the solution, the liquid begins to foam.
If work is not carried out outside, then a well ventilated area should be used.

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