How I Give Metal and Wire Pieces an Aged, Rusty Patina Using Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide and Salt

aged metal hardware drawer pull on table leg dragonfly
Look at that yummy aged metal

I love the patina of verdigris and rusted or aged metal and will usually 
choose the aged pieces over something pristine and shiny when I'm in creation mode.

Oh, did you see the title to my post? Yes, this is how "I" do it. 
I'm sharing the process I use but please use your own judgement and do your own research 
when mixing components, even "natural" ones. ;)

tubs of aged metal and rusty hardware ready to used in artwork
This is one small section of my fairly organized supply of metal 
pieces and parts I choose from when I'm creating.

vintage hardware for mixed media art
Some of my supply, like this great vintage hardware, already has a beautiful 
patina of rust, oxidation or chippy paint so I don't touch them, 
but some pieces I get are shiny and new and I want them aged.

I've tried lots of different combos for aging metal. 
I've dissolved bromine tablets that are used for pool and spa sanitation in water then 
sprayed the metal... yeah, don't bother, 
I've used straight bleach, straight vinegar and have straight up left stuff in the 
weather and rain. I've gotten pretty good results with all of them, except for the bromine.

metal roofing discs on architectural angel
This is the body of one of my Architectural Angels I made a while back.
Those are metal roofing nail discs that I aged with hydrogen peroxide and salt.

aged metal plumbing strap
In my giant vintage sign and reclaimed wood Butterfly,
I explained how I aged the metal strapping around the edge of the butterfly
with hydrogen peroxide and salt but this time I added vinegar.

I used the combo with the vinegar after loosely following these instructions I found online.
By loosely, I mean I didn't use a degreaser, I don't measure, 
and I just kind of combine ingredients and see what happens after I have the basic idea.


aged rusty metal pieces for vintage assemblage
I don't have a "during" pic but I use a big plastic tub and dump in all kinds of different metal 
pieces like wire, knobs, washers, house numbers, whatever I have laying around.

I pour plain white vinegar to cover all the pieces and let soak for a while...
could be a day, could be a few hours, just depends on what I have going on.
I've found setting the tub in direct sun seems to speed it all up.
The vinegar helps to etch the metal so the peroxide that I add later can work.

aged verdigris metal hardware
Later, I pour off the vinegar then pour on several bottles of drug store hydrogen peroxide 
and sprinkle with kosher salt, I'm sure regular table salt is fine but I had
a big box of kosher salt on hand.
The basic gist of this process is that hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizer and salt, 
when left on metal, is corrosive and will cause rust.

rusty metal washers
Every now and then, I'll tilt the tub to swish the liquid around over the
pieces, because I usually have it packed full and then I leave it...
anywhere from 30 min to a day... I know...so technical.

rusty bottle cap art
Final step, I pour off the excess liquid and dump the whole tub of pieces 
on a big piece of cardboard and let dry in the sun.
Then you wait for it to dry to see what you get.
It's exciting...really!

aged, rusty metal house numbers for art
Since I do it kind of haphazardly, I can get haphazard results.
Sometimes it all comes out perfectly rusty and aged and sometimes not.

I am completely fine with that and actually prefer it, 
I don't want each piece to be rusted or aged exactly the same

metal aged pieces used in mixed media art
The metal door knob back plates above that I bought shiny and new from Restore,
Looks like they probably needed to be soaked in vinegar a little longer to etch the coating
so the the hydrogen peroxide and salt could help them rust.

The good thing is you can always add them to the next batch and do it again 
until you get the look you want.

DIY rusty wire
I actually used to pay money to buy rusty wire to use on my dragonflies until 
I realized I could make it.  
I buy big rolls of galvanized utility wire from Home Depot or Lowe's 
and create my own rusty wire.  
You can usually find rolls of utility wire like this in the 
picture and mirror hanging supplies area of these stores.

Some rust will come off on your hands as you are working with it but 
once the project is complete, I apply either a spray clear sealer or brush on
 Minwax Polycrylic to protect the finished piece.

rusty hinges and clock hands
Above are huge clock hands that I aged and I'm not sure how I'm going
to use them, but I can't wait because I love how they turned out...

Update! I used the clock hands. See them in my country to funky cabinet makeover.

Thanks for stopping by to check out my rust!

Swing by my Etsy shop to see what's new or find me on 

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for the very helpful instructions.

    ReplyDelete
  2. thanks for that always wondered how this was done cheers vicki

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love this technique. I have hardware that was originally brass. I spray painted them black. Have you ever used this technique on spray painted hardware? Do you think I will need to remove the spray paint first?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Roxy, I haven't done this on spray painted pieces but I bet the vinegar would help etch or eat through the paint finish so the peroxide and salt can get in there to age it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello - I love this post! Do you use galvanized steel wire? And do you coat your items with something to keep the rust from coming off?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cheryl, yes the wire was galvanized. The vinegar seems to help etch the finish so the other elements can get in there and cause rust. Some rust will come off on your hands as you are working with the wire but after my project is complete, I seal with spray clear sealer or brush on clear Minwax Polycrylic.

      Delete

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