Monday, October 28, 2013

Copper Test Results Are In

If you remember from last time I wrote, we were testing different finishes on six little copper coils. Sorry for the wait, but I wanted to give each finish ample time to tell their individual stories. Here is what I found:

It has been about two weeks since I added different polishes to my raw copper coils. They sat in a wax paper coated pie pan in the shade on my porch. I live in Florida and we have had some really great humid days. With humidity and heat being a major factor to tarnish development, I thought this would provide me with the information I have been seeking. I work with a lot of copper, myself, and want to provide my customers with the best options for tarnish resistance.

Here are the final pics: First, here is the picture of the coil that was unfinished the entire time:
As you can see, there are many dark spots and it has lost its shine.

The next picture is of the coil finished with Renaissance Wax or Ren Wax, for short. I was sorely disappointed in the results here. To be honest, I finished a new Pendant and chain I recently made with the Ren Wax and wore it outside all day Saturday. While my neck did not turn green, the pendant turned color and lost the nice sheen I had given it with gun blue and lots of waxing. The results, overall, aren't as bad as the unpolished coil has, but I was still disappointed with the results. I have to say, however, that I only put on one layer of wax. I know some users put on multiple layers of this particular wax.

Next, you can see the results from the use of the Mass Commercial Paste. When I first put this on the coil I was amazed at the shine I got! I was immediately in love with the product. I had really high hopes but it, too, developed some areas of tarnish, about like the Ren Wax. Remember, however, when I finished each coil, I did only the top surface and did not try to get the finishes down into the grooves or onto the back.
The Maas Liquid finish came out like the Maas Commercial Paste. This coil also had several areas of tarnish. I was really disappointed...although I still love the product for cleaning and polishing. If you look closely, you can see the areas of tarnish I am talking about. These photos are not retouched. I want you to see the true results.
Last but not least are the Everbrite ProtectaClear products. This test was not to sing the praises of ProtectaClear. Trust me. Like a lot of other artists, I have been somewhat afraid that using this type of hard, permanent finish could flake off later. Here is the pic of the spray product, and it is still shiny. I have to tell you, I tried to peel the product off the surface of the coil, and it was as if it had become part of the coils surface.
Then there is the ProtectaClear brush on. I used the regular product that produces a shine, but they also make a satin finish product. The brush on won this contest, hands down. The coil was shiny, like the day I applied it. Notice the area where the tag is? You can see where I didn't put the product. That area tarnished. Hmmmm.

I also tried to peel this finish off with my finger nails and a serrated kitchen knife. I was able to mar the finish. After all, copper is a soft metal. But the finish did not peel. I was thinking it might peel off like bad nail polish. You know, like a plastic of some sort I would be able to get a hold of and peel off. No way! It stuck fast. I am told by the folks at Everbrite, that if the product is allowed to "cure" for a few days, it develops a really durable finish.

Here are some more interesting tidbits for your memory banks. Even though the Ren Wax Maas products still allowed the copper to tarnish, it easily cleans up when applied again. I also found that shining the coils without reapplication of Maas gave the coils a variety of colorful patinas. Unfortunately some of the tarnish remained, but the colors were fascinating!! The coils took on a kind of iridescence. I may have to play with that some more, as I love color, and fire (heating the copper to get color) isn't safe for me. I'm a little accident prone.

Another thing I found out quite by accident. I had a piece of jewelry that I used liver of sulfur on. I didn't tumble it or rub it out much and sealed it with PretectaClear. The copper turned really dark brown, even though it was sealed and in an anti-tarnish bag. I'm thinking that maybe the ProtectaClear somehow sealed in the effects of the LOS, even though I had given it a neutralizing bath in baking soda. Just food for thought. The effects have seemed to stop at dark brown, but I am keeping an eye on this particular piece for sure.

I am not trying to tell you to use or not use any of these products. They each have very different and endearing qualities. I wanted the information for myself and thought I would share my findings with you. If you have any questions or have found different results, please feel free to message me.

Until next time, keep on doing what you do...and Stay Wired Up!!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your findings! I wish I remembered you were doing this as I finally broke down and bought some Ren Wax yesterday! Seems the ProtectaClear brush is the best although none are perfect!

  2. Excellent post. Thanks for sharing your findings. I do appreciate folks who are prepared to experiment on behalf of others!

  3. Thanks for sharing....I know which one I'm going to purchase now.

  4. You are all so welcome. A note: All of the products I tested have their good qualities. I think the waxes didn't work as well for me because I live in a high humidity area. On the good side, they really put a shine on, and as long as your customers know they can clean their pieces back up with a impregnated jewelry cloth, they will be fine. The Everbrite product is a good one, but I'm sure you will find that it, too, has upsides and downsides. Do your own testing on a piece that isn't really pricy to start, just to be on the safe side. If you LOS before sealing, make sure you piece has been neutralized with baking soda and washed thoroughly. Especially with copper. I haven't had too many problems with silver...yet. Thanks again for your kind words.

  5. Great information! Thanks for testing and sharing your very thorough results.

  6. Thanks so much for doing this test and sharing it with the rest of us! Earlier this week I began researching this topic and was leaning towards the Protectaclear but still wrestling over if I should get the spray, liquid or the bundle and your findings have helped me make my choice. Thanks again.

  7. You are welcome! I am going to be posting some more findings tomorrow! Like...what do those little copper swirls look like now! You won't believe it!

  8. Awesome post! I really appreciate that you took the time to share your results.

    I found this post while searching Protectaclear and Renaissance Wax, because I am trying to develop a nacre-like surface treatment with pigment powders and binder. I made a copper test piece and applied my pigment using thin coats of Ren wax and rubbing/brushing in the pigment while the wax was setting. Being concerned for durability I searched for a coating to create a physical barrier to keep the delicate pigment layer from rubbing off during wear.
    I found Protectaclear in a web search and ordered some. I have now applied a spray-on coat and am letting it cure. Hopefully the Protectaclear and the Ren Wax will prove compatible! Otherwise it will be back to the drawing board for a different fixing method, perhaps thinned Protectaclear?

    Any way, I thought you or your readers might find this additional info useful. :)

    1. I really am sorry it took so long to reply. The move got to me, but thanks for sharing. I hope you will share your results with me!