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Salty Lemon Copper Cleaning Hack REVIEW

Lou Horton reviews copper cleaning hacks! Each post features a video where Lou tries the hack out and gives a detailed review consisting of 6 factors.

When you search the internet for tips on the best way to clean copper, there’s a lot of answers, and even more caveats, warnings and stipulations! If you’ve got some badly burned copper pans-do this but never that; if you’ve got some valuable coins-don’t clean them at all; if it’s time to clean some decorative gelatin molds that have been collecting cooking grease on the kitchen wall for 30 years-etc.

In this series we’re going to test, rate, and review one of many copper cleaning hacks. My rating criteria consists of 6 factors: time, messiness, safety, disposal, and results. I’m Lou Horton, a coppersmith, and jeweler. I like to do experiments with chemicals and copper. We’ll break down how these hacks work and what the copper looks like after a few days because it’s not always very pretty. 

Come along with me to test, rate, and review one of many copper cleaning hacks. Today we are going to try half a lemon with salt, as recommended in many copper cleaning tip articles. We are also going to try just lemon and no salt to see how it goes. If you want to see how this copper cleaning hack turns out in real-time, scroll down to watch my video.  

The first step requires ruining a perfectly delicious lemon by cutting it in half, slathering it in salt and using the lemon to polish the copper, thereby rendering it inedible. In case you can’t tell, I love lemons, but the particular one I’m using in this experiment wasn’t the most fresh.

Salty-Lemon Copper Cleaning Hack Basic Steps:

Cut the lemon in half around its equator

Sprinkle salt onto the inside of the lemon. Just regular table salt, it can be fine salt, coarse salt, kosher salt, or sea salt

Using the salted lemon half as a scrubber, rub the copper to dissolve the tarnish

Thoroughly rinse under running water to remove any traces of salt or lemon juice in any details

Testing the Copper Cleaning Hack

First, I tried the lemon without salt, and nothing happened.

The tarnish dissolves almost instantly after I add the salt. What’s happening here is that acid in the lemon juice is dissolving the oxidation (the brown layer) on the surface of this piece of copper.

The insides of the lemon and the coarseness of the salt are working together as an abrasive to clean the copper. I have to say that part of the hack is working pretty well. All the other hacks will require you to use a paper towel or a rag. However, one downside is that I can’t really get into the corners. On a more detailed piece, it would be very difficult to get it completely clean with this hack.  

pH Test Results:

Lemon: 4 – strongly acid

Salty Lemon: 2 – very strongly acid

We learned that adding salt to lemon juice made this concoction much more effective for cleaning copper. Then we tested the pH levels and learned that the salty lemon is more acidic than plain lemon. Interesting!

You do have to thoroughly rinse the copper item, so that will take more or less water depending on how many pieces you have to clean and how big they are. 

Rating the Salty-Lemon Copper Cleaning Hack

  1. Time: worked quickly, almost instantly, but still required 10 minutes of scrubbing and this piece of copper didn’t have any cooking oil or dirt on it: 7/10
  2. Cost: Lemons are about $1 each so this is kind of expensive, and tap water for rinsing: 4/10
  3. Messy: pretty messy salt could get loose and used a few dishes and paper towels: 4/10
  4. Safety: seems safe, there were no fumes, but the solution did burn some tiny cuts I had on my hands, so I recommend gloves:  9/10
  5. Disposal: mostly solid and could compost the lemons and paper towels depending on what kind of bugs are in your compost heap. Copper salts (the green stuff) can be toxic to bugs: 8/10
  6. How are the Results? How well did this hack actually clean the copper? Results are splotchy and my fingerprints are left on the surface of the copper. I’m not happy with the results. After scrubbing for about 10 minutes, I wasn’t able to get a clean, uniform surface: 4/10

Overall rating: 6/10

Overall, I’m not very impressed with this copper cleaning hack. I would rather use my lemons for garnishes and salad dressings. 

If you have tried this hack, let me know what you thought about it in the comment section below!

Leave a comment or send me a message if you have a DIY copper cleaning hack that you would like me to test.

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