Removing Firescale/Patina from Copper


Knowing I’ve been working on sprucing up my backyard, our managing editor Shawn Connally kindly gave me her old copper fire pit. Sweet! She also shared with me some great cleaning knowledge she had gleaned from Michael DeJong’s awesome book Clean: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing. Turns out that to remove rust patina or firescale from copper, all you need are lemons and salt! Here’s the fire pit, in it’s blackened state, wet down:
fire pit rusty.jpg
Here are our materials (with the lemons cut in half):
Simply sprinkle salt on the wet metal:
And scrub furiously with the lemon halves (hooray for friends!):
The fun part is that you get to see results almost instantly:
The lemons pick up the rust patina/firescale and get yucky:
And the copper shines through!
Rinse and repeat until satisfied! It was fun, smelled good, and is much better for the planet than toxic funk.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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