How to Polish Copper Cookware

January 17, 2022

Today I'm sharing how to polish copper cookware.

This post contains affiliate links. A purchase of any one of these items helps to support this blog and its creative efforts at no cost to you. To read more, please see my disclosure page

Have you ever tried to clean copper cookware, or any other type of copper pieces? I never had any real copper cookware to speak of, so I really had no idea how to clean it. That is, until I came across a vintage French copper egg white bowl at an estate sale.

tarnished copper bowl with ring pine cone

I've always admired French copper pots and pans - from afar. I always knew they could be quite expensive. But when I saw this little beauty for mere pennies I knew I had to jump in and buy it.

I paid only a few dollars for it. After a bit of research I found that this type of vintage French meringue bowl sell for upwards of $50.00, depending on size, condition and age. On the bottom it says VTG San Ling Taiwan ROC. Supposedly eggs and cream come together to create the best meringue, ever, in a copper bowl! 

green tarnish patina French copper meringue bowl

 And while I love the patina that comes with age, I really wanted to polish it since I recently acquired a shiny hammered copper pitcher for Christmas, and I wanted to display the pitcher, the bowl, and the copper colander I found while thrifting (which you can see in Thrill of the Hunt #119) together, along with some Moscow mule mugs I'd collected.  (If that sounds like maybe I'm starting a copper collection of sorts, well . . . . )

shiny copper colander

copper colander with lime and boxwood moscow mule mug

I loved how these copper pieces looked as part of my dining room fall decor.

As you can see, this bowl was sad looking in comparison to their bright and shiny exteriors.

tarnished copper bowl ring

The finger ring and hardware on the side looked particularly bad.

tarnished copper bowl

I wasn't sure if the green stains were actually from oxidation (patina) or some leftover residue from a prior cleaning attempt. I think it was probably oxidation and patina. Either way, I was ready to tackle it.

How To Clean Copper Cookware

My research uncovered many different ways to clean copper, from natural methods to store-bought copper polish. Different remedies were recommended depending on the level of tarnish, or patina, that had accumulated. 

tarnished copper bowl Bar Keeper's Friend yellow sponge

Initially I thought I had to go au naturel, based on what I'd read online. Later I discovered that I had something in my kitchen cabinet that could maybe do the trick: Bar Keeper's Friend. So I started with that. I only used it on one half of the bowl so that we could compare it with a natural method (lemon and salt) on the other half later.

upside down tarnished copper bowl with Bar Keeper's Friend

I attacked a particularly nasty area to see how it would perform.

And it performed great, as you can see from the above "after" pic. What a difference it made!

tarnished green patina French copper bowl

 All I did was shake the bottle, pour the liquid onto the bowl and rub it in gently with a soft wet sponge.

upside down copper bowl plate made in taiwan ROC

Even the finger ring and adjacent hardware looked better. Not perfect by any means, but better.

Here you can see that half of the bowl is clean and shiny, while the other half of the bowl still needs to be cleaned.

copper bowl lemons salt

Enter lemon and salt, nature's way to clean copper. Coarse sea salt, that is.

copper bowl lemons pinch cup

After squeezing the lemon juice into a pinch cup and adding some sea salt to form a paste, I was ready to go.

bright shiny copper bowl

I just dipped a soft sponge into the lemon and salt mixture and then gently rubbed it onto the still tarnished half of the copper bowl. And look how it shined! I kind of felt like it worked even better than Bar Keeper's Friend!

copper cleaning materials

The badly tarnished inside of the bowl was another story. I mean, it was really bad. I read that baking soda was a go-to method for really bad tarnish. So I tried it.

Honestly, I was unimpressed. The baking soda barely made a dent in the ugly green tarnish inside the copper bowl. I scrubbed really hard, to no avail.

bright shiny copper meringue bowl with whisk

So I went back to the store-bought solution: Bar Keeper's Friend. Granted, I still had to scrub pretty hard (with the scrubby side of a sponge), but it worked!

I accepted the fact that I would probably never be able to restore the copper bowl to its' original glory, but I was more than happy with the overall results at this point. 

So what other ways are there to clean copper?

whisk with blue handle copper meringue bowl with ring

Other potential copper cookware cleaners:

1. Ketchup (acidic, like lemons)

2. Vinegar, salt and boiling water

Some say you can protect the copper from tarnishing by covering it with baby oil or mineral oil right after cleaning. Honestly, I couldn't be bothered with that. Just being real.

So, what's the best way to clean copper cookware? Whatever works for you! 

Tips For Cleaning Copper Cookware

Regardless of the cleaning method you use, be sure not to scrub too hard or you could mar the copper finish for good.

How to know if your cookware is really copper (versus just copper plated)? If a magnet sticks to it, it's copper plated. In that case you won't want to use the same cleaning methods I lay out above lest you rub the plating right off. Warm soapy water is probably best for copper plated pieces.  

So what of MY estate sale copper bowl? 

French copper bowl with finger ring

Here she is. Is this bowl beautiful now, or what?

Moscow mule mugs boxwood copper bowl finger ring

In its newfound shiny state it fits in seamlessly with my hammered copper Moscow mule mugs.

hammered copper pitcher and Moscow mule mugs

Here's that gorgeous hammered copper pitcher I was telling you about.

I think they all look fabulous together.
hammered copper pitcher

copper cookware

I am SO happy with the result of my hard work in cleaning this copper bowl. Again, however you find your copper pieces, I'm sure you'll find a way to bring them back to life.

Well, that's it for today, friends!

I hope you've enjoyed reading about 

How To Polish Copper Cookware

and that I've inspired you in some way. 

Don't Forget To Pin It! 

Be sure to stay in touch:  

Click HERE to subscribe.
Don’t miss another thrifty,
 DIY home d├ęcor post!

Leave a Comment!

Rachel said...

It looks great!! I LOVE copper and found a bowl very similar to the one that you found! Personally I love the patina on mine but will follow your method if I ever get the urge to clean it up. Thanks for sharing!!

My thrift store addiction said...

Wow--sold! I have been meaning to try Barkeeper's after also having less than impressive results from baking soda. That bowl is fabulous and I love how you cleaned half to really highlight the results!

Junkchiccottage said...

How great to find the bar keepers had such great results. The bowl is so pretty too. Thanks for sharing all your tries and what worked the best. Have a great week. xoxo

Life as a LEO Wife said...

Wow! The before and after is amazing! I love Bar Keepers Friend for my stainless-steel appliances. Looking at your pieces makes me want to start a copper collection of my own. I also went with copper as an accent color for my fall decor and I loved it. I found you over on Ducks 'n a Row's link party. I'd love for you to come share on my brand-new link party (in its second week) called Crafty Creators on It's open Thursdays at 6am CST thru Mondays at 11:59pm. You can share 5 posts, no rigid rules. I think my readers would love this. I have another link party that's been open for years that you can share on as well, Happiness is Homemade, while you're there. Hope to see you!
Niki ~ Life as a LEO Wife

Related Posts with Thumbnails