Its Composition - Three Methods of Cleaning - Neglected Brass - Treatment of Lacquered Goods, and Benares Ware -Copper.


Brass is an alloy manufactured of tin, copper, zinc, and the calamine stone. The depth of colour depends on the proportions of tin, copper, and the stone. This mixture is melted, and then poured into sheets, which when cold are beaten into shape.

First Method Of Cleaning

Scrape a little bath-brick to a powder, moisten it with paraffin oil or vinegar, and rub it thoroughly on the brass with a flannel. Rub it off with another piece of flannel, and polish with a soft duster. A final rubbing with a leather adds to the brilliancy.

Second Method

Wash the brass free from grease, and rub it well with a cloth, using Sapolio or Monkey Brand soap. Dry with an old cloth, and polish with a soft duster and powdered bathbrick.

This is the cleanest mode, as there is no oil to soil the surrounding woodwork; but when polishing door-handles it is a good plan to slip a piece of millboard or thin wood with a hole over the handle, as this prevents the adjoining paint from being marked.

Third Method

Any of the various metal polishes may be used with great success. They are more expensive than the foregoing modes, but impart a beautiful and, some people consider, a more lasting polish. Directions for their use are always to be found on the tins.

Neglected Brass

Brass which has become quite black from neglect may speedily be restored to its pristine brightness by the following treatment: Dissolve 1 oz. of oxalic acid in 1/2 pint of boiling water; add 1 tablespoonfui of hydrochloric acid (spirit of salt), shake well and rub on plentifully with a flannel. Dry and polish with a dry flannel.

N.B.-As this is a strong poison, be very careful that the bottle is plainly marked.

Lacquered Brass

Lacquer is a kind of spirit varnish which must be treated carefully, as it quickly comes off. Lacquered brass may be washed gently with lukewarm soap lather, or rubbed gently with a cloth dipped in sour milk, or equal parts of vinegar and water, or with equal parts of lemon juice and water. But for some months new lacquer only requires polishing with a chamois leather. When once the lacquer is worn off, the brass must be cleaned regularly in the ordinary way; this, of course, entails more time and labour.

Benares Ware

This should be washed in warm soap lather and well dried, rubbed with half a lemon, rinsed quickly with boiling water to remove the acid, and lastly, thoroughly dried and polished with a leather.

Very much of the so-called Benares ware has a large amount of lead in its composition, which accounts for the very dark, almost black hue, which is sometimes seen after cleaning. For this there is no home treatment; the ware must be sent away to be re-dipped in melted brass.

COPPER is a reddish-hued metal found in mines in different parts of the world; the Burra Burra mine in South Australia probably being the most productive.


It is treated in exactly the same way as brass, and all the foregoing methods apply equally to it. For neglected copper, finely powdered emery may be used successfully with oxalic acid. Verdigris (the green substance often found on brass and copper, but more especially on the latter) can often be removed by the use of salt and vinegar - but thorough rinsing and careful cleaning are necessary after their use.

Leathers which have been used for brass or copper must never be used for silver, or anything connected with food, as metal polishes often contain poisonous ingredients.


Copper cooking utensils lined with tin must be carefully watched for any signs of the tin wearing way. If these are detected the article should be sent to be re-tinned, as frequently cases of poisoning have been traced to neglect of this precaution.

Recipe For Brass Polish

4 oz. soft soap, 1 oz. oxalic acid, sifted powdered bathbrick. Thoroughly dissolve the soap, add the acid which has been first dissolved in a little water, lastly stir in enough bathbrick to make the mixture the consistency of the ordinary brass polishes. Keep in air-tight tins.

N.B. Remember the oxalic acid is a most powerful poison.