Brass candlesticks have become popular lately – and for good reason! They offer elegance, height, and ambiance wherever they are placed. However, they do require some maintenance and care to keep them looking their best. Here is a breakdown of how to clean brass candlesticks.
Types of Brass Candlesticks
Before jumping in, it’s important to first determine the type of brass candlesticks you have. Using the wrong cleaning method may ruin the candlestick finish.
Here’s how to check if your candlesticks are solid brass: Try sticking a magnet to the candlesticks. If the magnet does not stick, it’s brass. Easy!
If you stick a magnet to the candlesticks and it does stick, you have brass plated candlesticks. Your best option is to clean them with soap and warm water, then pat dry.
If an item is lacquered (covered with a shiny coating) the best option is to clean with soap and warm water, then pat dry.
If the lacquer seems to be coming off in places, then you may need to take the candlesticks to a metal refinisher. The purpose of lacquer is to prevent brass from tarnishing.
How to Remove Melted Wax from Brass Candlesticks
Step 1: Chip off hardened wax
Use a wooden or plastic stick such as an emery board or popsicle stick to chip away at hardened wax.
Step 2: Wipe away residue
Wipe the candlestick firmly with a towel or reusable cloth to remove remaining wax.
Step 3: If wax remains, freeze briefly
If persistent wax remains, freeze for 15-45 minutes.
Step 4: Repeat steps 1 and 2
Repeat steps 1 and 2, chipping off the hardened wax.
How to Clean Brass Candlesticks
When it comes to cleaning or shining brass candlesticks you have options. It’s likely that you already have the materials necessary somewhere in your kitchen!
Essentially you need to combine an acidic ingredient (think vinegar, lemon juice, or tomato juice) and a gentle abrasive (think baking soda or salt) to get the job done. Below are a few options to consider.
Vinegar and Salt Mixture
Step 1: Create mixture
Mix equal portions of distilled white vinegar, flour, and salt.
Step 2: Apply mixture
Rub mixture into candlesticks with a reusable cloth and let it sit for one hour.
Step 2: Rinse clean and dry
Rinse with warm water and pat dry with a reusable cloth.
Ketchup (or Other Tomato-Based Products)
Step 1: Apply ketchup
Apply a thin layer of ketchup to brass candlesticks and let it sit for 30-60 minutes.
Step 2: Buff with damp cloth
Use a soft microfiber cloth that has been dampened with water to buff the candlesticks clean. You can also use a soft toothbrush that has been dampened with water to get into crevices.
Step 3: Rinse clean and dry
Once the item is restored, rinse with cool water and pat dry with a reusable cloth.
Baking Soda and Lemon Juice
Step 1: Make a paste
In a small bowl, make a paste of lemon juice and baking soda.
Step 2: Apply paste
Apply the paste to the candlesticks with a clean cloth.
Step 3: Buff with a clean cloth
Buff in circular motions, using the cloth to remove tarnish.
Step 4: Wipe clean and dry
Wipe any residue with a wet microfiber cloth. Pat dry with a clean, reusable cloth.
Commercial Brass Polish
Step 1: Wet brass with damp cloth
Wet the brass using a damp reusable cloth or sponge.
Step 2: Apply cleanser
Apply cleanser to the candlestick with a cloth or sponge and let sit for one minute.
Step 3: Buff with a clean cloth
Buff the surface gently using the cloth or sponge. For crevices, use a soft toothbrush.
Step 4: Rinse clean and dry
Rinse with cool water and pat dry with a clean reusable cloth. Repeat as needed.
How Does Brass Tarnish in the First Place?
Brass tarnishes due to exposure to oxygen, so it’s difficult to avoid completely. However, exposure to oils from your skin or exposure to water can hasten tarnishing.
Tarnishing is a natural process due to the zinc and copper content in the metal, so nothing to be concerned about.
How to Keep Brass Candlesticks Clean
Regular maintenance is key! To keep the candlestick surface clean, dust brass candlesticks regularly to keep them looking good between more intensive deeper cleanings. When you see brass tarnish, that’s your cue for a deeper cleaning or polishing.
To minimize wax drippings if you use the candles in your candlesticks, I have two suggestions.
- First, trim your wicks each time you light the candles with a wick trimmer, down to a ¼ inch.
- Second, heat the bottom of the candle with a match or lighter before pressing it gently into the candlestick holder. This helps ensure your candle is nice and upright, so it burns more neatly with less cleanup for you later!
To check if you have solid brass candlesticks, try sticking a magnet to the candlesticks. If the magnet sticks, you have brass plated candlesticks. If the magnet does not stick, you have solid brass candlesticks.
Solid brass is also usually heavier than brass plated items.
If you polish lacquered brass, you risk stripping off the lacquered finish. If you do so, then all of the lacquer would need to be stripped and then relacquered.
Yes, WD 40 can clean brass quickly and effectively. If you have WD 40 on hand, spray a thin layer onto the candlesticks and let them sit for 15-30 minutes. Take a soft, clean cloth (microfiber is great) and rub the item in circular motions to buff until the item is fully polished and dry.
Yes, you can clean brass with toothpaste. To do so, apply a small amount of toothpaste to the candlesticks using a microfiber cloth. Let sit for a few minutes. Then, rinse with cold water and pat to dry with a reusable cloth.