Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you tell me how to remove an anti-tarnish lacquer from copperware? I used Fantastic on my Revereware® copper cooking utensils when they were new and it worked fine, but now I'm trying to remove anti-tarnish lacquer from a copper teapot and can't seem to get it off.

The Reverware did not have any lacquer on it, so Fantastic was probably just keeping it clean and shiny.

If your copper teapot has lacquer on it, it is most likely that the piece was never meant to be used to make tea, but rather for display purposes only. If you plan to remove the lacquer to restore a new lacquer finish, I would recommend Gillespie's Copper and Brass Cleaner. They supply a kit with remover, neutralizer and lacquer spray for a new finish. If the piece was originally intended for use to make tea, it most likely did not have any lacquer and what you're looking at is the natural coloration of the copper (usually a nutty brown or a blue-green color after several years of exposure). In which case, I would use something like Twinkle, which can be found in most grocery stores in the kitchen section, or some other cleaner specific to copper or brass. Regardless, be sure to thoroughly wash off and rinse any chemical before you use the pot for tea. Also, keep in mind that most modern copper teapots and other cookware are lined, thereby taking advantage of copper's great heat conduction capability, while the lining (often stainless steel) prevents any coloration of the pot's or pan's contents.

I am looking for Web sites that advertise and sell copper pieces for both cooking and decor?

Rather than clog your e-mail with an unwieldy list, I would suggest a "Google" search on the following key words (variations or further delimiting may bring you closer to what you are seeking).
cookware + copper
interiors + copper
decor + copper

One note: Unless copper cookware is used for decorative purposes only, I would suggest that you use copper-clad cookware or copper cookware that is lined. That will prevent discoloring of foods while taking advantage of copper's superior heat transfer benefits.

I am trying to buy copper sheets to oil paint on. I have been getting scraps from plumbers but nobody knows where to buy it. Can you help?

There's a franchise called Metal Supermarkets that operates in many states. You can determine if there is one convenient to you by visiting their Web site.

If that is not available, most Home Depots (and possibly Lowe's and others) carry coils of copper for flashing (about 18-inches wide). Larger sheets are usually available from a local building supply or roofing supply store. You may also contact a metal roofing contractor to determine his source of supply or, perhaps, obtain leftover material.

Recently I purchased sheets of copper and would like to know what I can put on the copper to prevent it from turning green or looking like an old penny. Can you tell me what product I should use to protect my copper countertops as well as the copper sheet behind my range?

One reservation you may have about copper is the material's tendency to turn green with age. Contrary to popular belief, this oxidation only occurs when the copper is directly exposed to outdoor elements or acidic conditions. To keep your counter in its original condition, try applying Bar Keeper's Friend. You can also polish the counter and then apply furniture polish or car wax to seal the surface and prevent a patina from forming. A cheaper alternative is to rub the surface with salt and lemon wedges, or rub with ketchup and then rinse thoroughly. This deep cleansing routine should be performed about once a month. If you prefer a more natural look, clean with regular kitchen soap or liquid detergent and a beautiful caramel brown patina with hints of blue and purple will eventually appear. A longer-term solution would be to put several coats of lacquer on the counter. Regardless of what you choose, any coating will have to be reapplied or refreshed periodically, if you want to maintain a pristine look. However, many users eventually prefer the natural look of copper that comes with age and use. Remember that copper is a relatively soft metal, so it will scratch more easily than other metals and, depending on how it was mounted, it may dent more easily, too. There are a lot of artisans who travel and set up booths to show their unique and beautiful works. When you're there, ask them what method they prefer to seal the copper, if they do.

Do you have any suggestions for resources to learn how to use copper for other decorative uses?

Aside from countertops, rangehoods and sinks in the kitchen, there are endless applications ranging from wall hangings, stamped ceilings, lighting fixtures, railings, sculptures, and etchings to weather vanes, mailboxes, cupolas, waterfalls, lawn sprinklers, etc. I suggest you do a Google search on the kind of decoration you might have in mind and add " + copper" to see what shows up (lots and lots). Also, keep your eyes open at community fairs, carnivals and festivals.

Do you have information about how to install copper sheeting as a kitchen back splash? Is there anything special to consider, things to avoid?

A copper backsplash can be installed just like flashing, or you can cover a board with the copper flashing material and install that, as you choose. Do not nail or screw the copper. Instead, use an adhesive caulk that's compatible with metals. If you want to preserve the shiny look, use several thin coats of lacquer on the copper.This will prevent it from fingerprints or changing color. Leaving it natural will result in darkening and even some greening. This is a self-protective patina, which is valued by many. You may also clean it periodically with Twinkle (or some other copper cleaner/polisher). Keep in mind that copper is a softer metal which is subject to scratching and denting; again, this is a look that many people desire.

Copper makes an excellent backsplash or even a full countertop.

I'm interested in using copper for my kitchen countertops but am having an awful time finding information on the pros and cons of such a use, as well as what type/weight of copper to use and where to get it.

Copper countertops have been used for generations with good success and can offer generations of enjoyment as well as a practical work surface.

  • Copper is lovely to look at and a nice complement to most decors, particularly modern contemporary, traditional and country. Besides plain sheet, it is available in many textures and finishes.
  • Unsealed, it provides an antimicrobial surface 30 times more effective than stainless steel.
  • Unsealed, it provides a "living" surface that will change colors over time, depending on what it comes in contact with -- most often, it will go to shades of brown.
  • Sealed or regularly polished, it will remain a shiny salmon color. If sealed (lacquer or other), it will like require periodic resealing to maintain its look.
  • If you're installing it yourself, it is malleable and easy to work with.
  • Must be installed flat on a solid substrate such as 3/4-inch plywood.
  • Typical installation is with adhesives.
  • If used, fasteners should be copper, brass or bronze.
  • Copper sheet is sold by ounces per square foot. 16 oz or 20 oz copper should work fine (you can go heavier). I've seen conference tables made from 48 oz copper that requires no substrate.
  • Seams or miters are easily soldered (and may be tinted to match surface), ensuring no leaks or cracks.
  • Seams or miters may be welded and polished providing completely seamless appearance and performance.
  • Copper is a relatively soft metal, so it is susceptible to denting, scratching and slicing. Sealing will reduce susceptibility to scratching. Proper mounting to substrate will reduce susceptibility to denting.
  • Many people like these features because, over time, it produces an attractive, distressed look.

Aside from a roofing supply or metal service center, several sources provide pre-made countertops. Among them: Frigodesign, Brooks Custom, Soupcan.

I'm looking for DIY (do-it-yourself) information on soldering.

For soldering information, please look at the Do It Yourself section of our Web site.

My son has to make a model of a copper molecule for school. Can you tell me where I can get a picture of the copper molecule?

Check out the this section on the PBS Web site for a schematic of the copper atom.

I am intent on installing radiant heating in my home that is to be constructed. Can you tell me how copper compares to a plastic tubing product called PEX?

Copper is a far more efficient heat-transfer medium than PEX and has enjoyed a long and successful history of radiant heating installations in the U.S. For additional information, please check out the Radiant Floor section in Copper In Your Home.

Would you please provide us with information on the benefits of using copper for the residential water system?

I own a small plumbing company and would like to know if you sell in bulk. If so. is it possible to get a distributorship?

Copper Development Association Inc. is a not-for-profit trade association representing the U.S. copper, brass, and bronze industry, and as such does not sell or distribute product. However, the copper tube that you are looking for can be purchased at any local plumbing, heating or refrigeration supply shop in your area. For contact information of manufacturers of copper tube and fittings, please check out our Tube & Plumbing Council member company listing.

What can I spray on a copper roof over a bay window to turn it green as though it were very old? I don't want to wait 50 years for that wonderful green patina.

Check out the information we have at our Architecture section on finishes as well as the links you'll find there.

Whatever you do, test it on some scrap copper before you do anything to your bay cover.

I want to obtain sheets or disks of copper that I can use over the heating element of my electric range stovetop, perhaps with little legs attached, to provide the quick and even distribution of heat that a copper-bottomed item of cookware would normally provide.

What you propose is possible to fabricate, but will probably not do what you hope it will. Unfortunately, such a piece would not duplicate the function of a bonded copper disk bottom or of a solid copper utensil. First, you would not be in contact with the heating element. Second, there would always be irregularities in surface contact between the disk and the utensil. Both of these factors would reduce the efficiency and evenness of heat transfer, which was what you were trying to achieve in the first place. Such a device may help a little, but it would not equal the performance of copper-clad or solid copper cookware.

Can you please instruct me as to how to attach sheets of copper to a tabletop? Is there a specific adhesive I should use? Also, how should I deal with the corners of the table?

We are currently updating the reply to this question with detailed graphics and step-by-step instructions. We expect to post that here in the very near future. Please bear with us as we work to get this done.