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Q: My old copper bowl is so tarnished that I can’t get it clean. Any suggestions?

A: First make sure your bowl is not by a famous maker. Check the bottom for a mark. If you find a mark, you may want to think twice about cleaning it. The patina that builds up over the years protects copper from corrosion and some collectors don’t want the patina removed. But if the bowl is not valuable, you can buy a commercial cleaner at a hardware store or try a couple of home remedies. If the bowl is small, fill a zinc-free pot with enough water to cover the bowl. Add a tablespoon of salt and a cup of vinegar. Put the bowl in the pot, bring the water to a boil and let it boil for several hours. Take the bowl out, let it cool, wash it with liquid dishwashing soap, rinse, and dry with a soft cloth. Tarnish can often be removed by using a mixture of vinegar, salt and a bit of flour and water. Or try tomato paste or a mixture of salt and lemon juice. Do not use abrasive cleaners or steel wool.


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