I have some old brass candlesticks that I inherited from my grandmother after she passed away. They have a lot more sentimental than monetary value to me. What would be the best way to polish them using household ingredients?

I'm aware of Brasso (e.g., this answer), but am looking for something relatively natural to use. I have heard that you can accomplish this using ketchup, but have no idea how to do it. Any advice?


You can soak the candlesticks in vinegar, then scrub. If you want a little more aggressive treatment, dissolve some salt in the vinegar. That'll generate a little hydrochloric acid, which'll take the pH down a bit and clean more quickly. Some folks swear by a paste of vinegar, flour, and salt. I've never used that mix. I've never had to.


baking soda in water as a paste makes an excellent fine abrasive polish - similar to using toothpaste on your teeth.

  • I've also done something similar by boiling the object in a strong solution of baking soda and water. – Comintern Mar 6 '16 at 23:20
  • that shouldnt do anything unless you were using your pot as an anode and stripping a layer off of the brass. this will discolour your pot and partially remove some of the brass. if solid no problem, but if plated, it will remove the plating thickness pretty quickly. – personal privacy advocate Mar 6 '16 at 23:45
  • It's not a galvanic process at all - baking soda dissolved in water is basically just carbonic acid. Heat speeds the reaction of the acid with the patina. – Comintern Mar 7 '16 at 1:07
  • since sodium bicarbonate is amphoteric, it does not turn solely into carbonic acid in water. it also forms a hydroxyl group which effectively neutralizes the acid and actually makes the solution alkaline. therefore, its not doing anything to the brass.... – personal privacy advocate Mar 7 '16 at 4:10
  • ...any acid/base will only react as far as its anions and cations will allow it. once you use up the reactivity of the solution, heat wont do a thing. catalysis just speeds up a process, but doesnt allow for any more moles of solute to react with the acid component of the solution. since brass wont dissolve in such a mild alkali, dissolution of the brass patina is not whats going on.... – personal privacy advocate Mar 7 '16 at 4:10

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