Caring for Your Copper Sink
At Coppersinksales.com, our sinks are made from the highest quality copper available. The care of your copper sink is easy and by understanding and following the instructions below, your sink will last for generations.
1. What is a Living Finish or Patina?
The beauty of copper is its living finish or patina. The patina builds over time and acts as a protective coating. It is a rich weathered finish with light and dark tones complementing each other and creating the unique effect of copper. It is also what gives copper its natural, anti-bacterial properties.
2. What happens during the patina process and how long will it take?
Copper sinks go through an “oxidation” process which forms a protective coating known as a patina or a “living finish” on the surface of the metal. This complex process begins immediately when the sink is exposed to the environment and undergoes a series of color changes from natural reddish brown shades to darker shades of chocolate, plum, mahogany and ebony. For many, the word “oxidation” conjures up negative thoughts of rust and corrosion but as you will experience, copper is definitely an exception to the idea. With age and use, you’ll find the copper’s surface appears richer and more beautiful as the protective coating or patina forms on the surface of the sink.
There are several benefits to copper’s patina or “living finish”. Any scratch or blemish on the surface of a copper sink is temporary and will “heal” itself and disappear over time. Acidic foods such as lemon or tomato will cause a pink mark on the surface but because a copper sink has a “living finish”, this mark will slowly darken and blend on the interior of the sink becoming virtually invisible.
A copper sink's patina is a naturally occurring process and will continuously change day by day. You’ll discover that through oxidation, your copper sink will become more beautiful and unique as time passes. Your sink will begin the patina process of darkening and the process time will depend on much use the sink gets. Keep in mind, a copper finish is a living finish and never really stops changing in color.
3. How do I clean my copper sink?
Now that you’ve found the perfect copper sink to add warmth and charm to your home decor, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep it looking its best, right? The best thing you can do for your copper sink is leave it alone. Less definitely is more when it comes to cleaning your copper sink!
Your copper sink may be the only thing in your home that thrives from lack of attention, but, it really is low-maintenance. The unique beauty of copper is enhanced by its patina, a rich, living finish that builds over time and provides a protective coating for the vessel. The patina also gives your copper sink its natural antibacterial properties, enabling it to eliminate bacteria and viruses from its surface.
Let us share the simple steps to keep your copper sink looking beautiful, but first, we'll tell you a story I heard about a conscientious housekeeper, a copper sink, and Drano. Seems the sink was draining slowly, so she painstakingly poured a bottle of liquid drain cleaner in and waited for it to work. Unfortunately, the contents of the clogged sink bubbled up like a witch’s cauldron, spewing onto the sink’s “new penny” finish, which, to her horror, immediately turned a dingy gray eroding the surface. In tears, she called a contractor friend, who told her to fill the sink with water and rub the surface gently with super-fine sand paper. This cautionary tale eventually had a happy ending--after much crying and wiping and rubbing on her part--but the poor woman may never clean her sink again!
Seriously, though, cleaning a copper sink is the easiest chore on your household list. Use a soft, clean cloth to wipe the surface, remove any standing water or substances that might create shiny spots. Drano aside, any acidic substance—lemon, hand soap or toothpaste, for example--will create shiny spots in the patina. Over time, spotting caused by normal use will fade back into the patina as the copper heals itself. For extra protection, or to slow the patina process, you may use a high quality carnauba wax. Never use anything abrasive.
So, now that you know the ways to copper maintenance...and how quick and easy it is to keep your copper sinks clean, what will you do with all your spare time?!
4. What if bleach spills on my copper sink?
The bleach will probably remove the patina from the sink and, like any injury, it will take time to heal. Because it is a living finish, the patina will redevelop with time and usage, absorbing discolorations and scratches. Simply clean the entire surface of the sink so that it has a uniform appearance, then wait a few weeks. If you’d like to accelerate the darkening process, apply a small amount of olive oil to the affected area.
Assuming that your sink has an antique copper or black copper finish, you might try our Copper Care Kit. And, please remember to use caution when cleaning copper; acids and chemicals found in many household products can strip the patina.
5. How do I deal with the spotting that occurs on my copper sink?
First of all, relax; the areas you are seeing are normal. They actually are a part of copper's unique and ever-changing charm. Because copper has a living finish (the patina), it can react this way when any substance sits on its surface. This is especially true with acidic substances like toothpaste, juices, or certain soaps that can cause the patina to be removed. When this occurs on the surface, the lighter copper showing through from underneath will begin to darken with exposure (think of a new penny vs. an older one), ultimately blending back in with the finish of the sink.
One way to accelerate this process is to apply a touch of olive oil directly over the spot and let it sit. This should accelerate the darkening process, but it will take time to blend back in completely. After a couple of weeks, if you are not satisfied with your result, consider a copper care kit. The care kit includes wax, a soft cloth, and a copper-darkening chemical solution for direct application on the lighter copper areas. Please use with care; your copper sink requires a gentle touch. Johnson's Hardwood Floor Wax, available at your local hardware store, is another product you might try. This wax will help prevent spots, protect the finish, and add to the sink’s natural luster.
6. Is there additional information I need in caring and maintaining my copper sink?
Yes. Copper sinks can be used for every day normal household tasks but its best to avoid prolonged exposure to acidic substances such as tomato sauce, citrus, industrial soaps, whitening toothpastes, etc.). The patina process might also be affected by the mineral content of your water supply so make sure to remove any standing water with a soft cloth to prevent mineral buildup.
For extra protection, use Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Wax Polish or Wright’s Copper Cream depending on your type of sink(s). Please follow the manufacturer ’s directions on how to use wax or cream.
We now have a copper cleaning kit available that includes Chocolate Brown Antiquing Oxidizer to fix shiny spots, Waxx to slow the patina process and protect the finish, and a microfiber cloth. You can find it here.
If you purchased a copper kitchen sink, please allow hot pots and pans to cool before placing them in your sink.