Monday, April 8, 2013

Cleaning Copper & Wood (or Rehabbing a piece of my childhood)

Like most couples, my husband and I try to visit our families as often as possible. The last excuse for a trip home happened to be for my dad's 65th birthday! While we were there, my mom offered me a set of copper and wood utensils. These weren't just any set of utensils, but the ones that had hung on the wall next to the stove for my entire childhood. There was no way I was going to bypass this offer. I love to collect family items and happily took them home. As you can see in the picture below, they had seen better days.


Because they were in such poor condition, I decided to try a few homemade natural cleaning products (and essential oils, of course) to try to restore them to their former glory. If nothing else, they would at least get a fabulous cleaning.

First, I soaked them in hot, soapy water using a grease fighting dish soap. I don't know why, but I am always surprised at how effective a good soaking is at getting rid of dirt and gunk. 

Then I whipped up (literally) this wonderful Kitchen Utensil Wood Cream that I found {here}.
What you'll need:
1/2 cup coconut oil 
1 Tablespoon beeswax pastilles (or shaved)
6 drops lemon essential oils (EO)

What to do:
Preheat a saucepan with about two inches of water. Bring the water to a temperature warm enough to melt all of the ingredients. Measure all ingredients, with the exception of the EO, into a glass jar. Stir occasionally with a knife. 
After melted, remove from heat and add EO. Let the mixture cool slightly. Then you need to whip it with a blender or mixer, I have a Magic Bullet© so that is what I used.
**Apply this to wood to make it healthy and shiny. Extra Note: This is great for cutting boards too!**

To learn how to clean copper I used this site {here}. By doing a simple Google search, I was shown that most of the ideas are the same: ketchup, lemon & salt or flour/vinegar/salt paste.

First, I tried the ketchup method. I applied the ketchup using a cloth and then on a semi-abrasive pad. I think my copper was too tarnished for this to be effective. It did shine the handles but not the heads.

Next I tried the lemon cleaner. Because I didn't have any lemons on hand, I used lemon EO, which is just as good. My mixture was simply a lemon EO and salt combination. I used both an abrasive and non-abrasive scrubber but didn't get much of a result. 

Lastly, I used a flour based mixture. I like a good paste, and coincidentally,  this method proved to be the most effective. The combination was simply flour, salt and vinegar method. Mix the three together to form a paste, then using an abrasive scrubber, scrub off the grim. I tried a toothbrush but it didn't affect the outcome. Elbow grease is what is needed. Look at that shine! Oh and I added a few drops of lemon EO, just because.

While it wasn't quite as easy as I always want things to be, it turned out better than I'd hoped. I honestly can't believe how good they look now. There is definitely a lot of scrubbing involved to get these to shine.  But shine they do and I can't wait to hang them up by my stove.


Special note: These items are important to me because they remind me of my childhood. I wanted to rehab them for myself. I knew I was running the risk of damaging them.  For me, I was willing to take the risk because even damaged utensils would have sentimental value to me. PLEASE make sure you are willing to take the risk if you plan on trying this method on old items. I know that antiques are often more valuable without cleaning them up. Therefore, clean at your own risk. As always, see the disclaimer {here} before attempting anything you've read here.