Copper Cleaning Instructions

A detailed step by step process to clean and preserve copper nuggets and flakes.

These instructions are meant for cleaning up copper. Particularly copper nuggets and flakes found in their natural state. Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula is full of old mines and mine tailing piles where you will always find copper that was left behind after their crude extraction processes.

  1. Soak in warm soapy water overnight
  2. Remove the excess unwanted rock with a hammer or pick of some sort. Dentist tools work very well. Wire brushes also work well.
  3. Soak in Muriatic acid* (hydrochloric) for 1 hr. This removes oxidation buildup from the specimen. You may have to soak longer depending on the amount of oxidation.
  4. Rinse the copper with warm water and again use hammers, brushes, and picks to remove excess rock and dirt. It will now be more noticeable and loosened up more.
  5. Dip the copper in diluted nitric acid for up to a minute
  6. Once again rinse the copper.
  7. Dip it into a solution of Copper Brite or other liquid copper cleaner. Let sit in the solution for 1 min depending on the concentration.
  8. Rinse the copper one final time. Make sure all the solutions are off. The water should be coming of clear.
  9. After drying the copper thoroughly, spray with an acrylic lacquer to preserve the shine.
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Published in: Do-It-Yourself


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  1. you can also use nevr dull. it is a cotton wadding polish and it is about four dollars.

  2. I’ve followed your instructions and had good success cleaning the native copper I mined in the Keweenaw area last month. My issue is once I remove the copper from the oxalic acid bath, it tarnishes in the rinse water before I can dry and clear coat.

    Any tips you can offer are appreciated.

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