Today Winterlude’s crew decides for fun (after skiing) we’ll pretend to be the TV Show “MythBusters”! My AARP Magazine tells me mixing baking soda and lemon juice is a great substitute for expensive brass polish. Hmmm… always on the lookout for everyday cleaning ingredients that are already aboard, rather than having to buy special stuff for special purposes, I run for the tarnished brass bell and my baking soda and lemon juice. To make it an easy comparison, I decide to test the concept against Brasso, the brass cleaner we happened to have on hand.
Step 1. The wannabee volcano … remember when you used to mix vinegar and baking soda and the volcano erupted? When I mixed the baking soda and lemon juice I got a mini-reaction, nothing like the eruption, but definite bubbling. I put about a quarter inch of lemon juice in a tiny bowl and added baking soda until I mixed a thick liquidy paste.
Step 2. Now we wanted to find out how much work this method of polishing the brass bell would entail – after all, we’re all for as little hard labor as possible! I put a small amount of the paste on a clean but trashed t-shirt and started massaging it into a small stripe on the bell. Voila! It IS getting brighter. Applying a bit of pressure, I added more paste until I “massaged” the strip for a couple of minutes, maybe. I kept getting more and more black on my rag.
Step 3. After 2-3 minutes, I wiped it clean and took a photo. Not bad. Not great shiny, but not bad. So I took a photo.
Step 4. Now comes the comparison — we put a bit of Brasso on another clean but trashed section of t-shirt and took a swipe so make the bell appear to be striped. Oops, with substantially less work, the Brasso made a strip of bright shiny polished brass – so much so that I had to change the angle of photo because my reflection kept appearing in the stripe. If we were MythBusters, we’d say BUSTED!
But wait, there’s more! David commented that he smelled ammonia in the Brasso. Sure enough, we read the ingredients and ammonia is the 2nd listed ingredient in Brasso. Hmmm…. ammonia is one of the common cleaners always aboard Winterlude.
Wonder if we’d blow up the world if we mixed AMMONIA and baking soda instead of the lemon juice.
First of all, no explosive reaction … not even much bubbling, much to our chagrin. How can this be the next greatest discovery ever if it doesn’t even bubble? Second after spending about an equal amount of time massaging the Ammonia and Baking Soda Mixture into the tarnished brass, we had a little less satisfactory clean than the Lemon Juice and Baking Soda Mixture. Although in a pinch, I guess you could use it. I probably wouldn’t. Before I caught David, he had already polished half our bell with Brasso, so the shiny side is the other side. The “scratch” in the ammonia side isn’t a scratch, it’s baking soda not sufficiently polished off.
Oh well, all great inventions take several flops before succeeding, so we’re back to trying to figure out something else to make commuter cruisers lives easier! In the meantime, David informs me that he intends to use the Lemon Juice & Baking Soda combination on Winterlude’s exterior brass portholes – they’re currently green and we’ve decided we like green given the amount of work required to make them anything but green.
We’ll see this fall when we return to the boat!
So do you use any common household cleaners to polish brass? Anything exceptionally available, inexpensive and easy? Leave a comment and share the information! Cheers! Jan