keeping flame colors on copper

Whitesmithing |

Can anyone tell me how to keep from losing colors on copper after flame coloring? When applying a clear finish the colors change to shades of gold and brown.

Rich Waugh's picture

The only thing I've found

The only thing I've found that doesn't change the oxide colors appreciably is Renaissance Wax. Any clear coat that goes on as a liquid usually changes the color significantly. One reason for this is that most clear coats have UV blockers in them and that changes the way light reflects back form oxide colors. Oxide colors are only about one molecule deep on the surface and the color they appear to be is a mixture of reflected light and refraction of the light in the oxide layer as I understand it, so it doesn't take much to change them.

For the above reason, I prefer to use chemical patinas to get the colors I need - they can usually be clear coated with lacquer without altering the appearance too much.

Hopefully someone else will have a method that works better than what I've been able to manage so far.

mr ed's picture

Thanks Rich. I use some

Thanks Rich. I use some chemical patinas but I really like the marbled effect a flame patina gives. I can get red and varying shades but most everything else escapes me.

In God We Trust

Sandra G's picture

Renaissance Wax

I also use Renaissance wax on copper.It is an amazing product. I have used it on wood, copper, inside shoes to stop the bleed from dyes.....

Expensive, but a little goes a long way.


ps I had a problem with some rust in my shop so I removed the rust then coated the tools, my steel bench block, ets with Renaissance wax and so far no more rust. And it leaves a really nice finish.

crquack's picture

How does Renaissance Wax

How does Renaissance Wax differ from other paste waxes?


Rich Waugh's picture

Renaissance Wax is a

Renaissance Wax is a microcrystalline wax specially formulated for preserving museum pieces. It was developed by the folks at the Royal Museum in England, if I recall correctly. Unlike carnauba wax Ren Wax doesn't yellow or craze with age, and unlike acrylic "waxes" it doesn't build up heavily with repeated applications. It's just the best all-around wax I've ever used.

Ren Wax is ferociously expensive, on the order of $25 for about six ounces, but that six ounces is enough to wax a whole fleet of cars or a mansion full of antique furniture.

For me, the chief advantage of Ren Wax is that it doesn't seem to alter the appearance of patinas or complex wood grains.

crquack's picture

How is it on steel? I find

How is it on steel? I find paste waxes useless as protection from corrosion. Is the Ren Wax any better?


Rich Waugh's picture

I use it on my machine tools

I use it on my machine tools like the table saw, scroll saw, milling machine, shaper table, and a couple of anvils that don't get used often. After a couple of coats of Ren Wax, no further rusting for a couple years.

crquack's picture

I take it they were rusting

I take it they were rusting *before* you put the wax on :-)


Rich Waugh's picture

Most assuredly they were

Most assuredly they were rusting - usually took about a week to see surface rust on the table saw. (One of the "perks" of living in the tropics.) After a couple or three coats of Ren Wax there's been no discernible rust after two years. I probably put a coat of wax on it every five or six months I would guess. Keeps it rust free and makes the wood slide across it better, too.

PfredoP's picture

wondering if this wax is 1 -

wondering if this wax is 1 - non-toxic to human skin, and 2 - long-lasting enough for jewelry. thoughts? ...i will research, too, but there is no substitute for experience.

we can never know it all...

Rich Waugh's picture

Well, it is certainly

Well, it is certainly non-toxic to MY skin - I often use my fingers to apply it to pieces. I can't say how it would affect others, but it never bothers me. Try it and see!

Sandra G's picture

more on rust prevention/removal and corrosion

Since we are talking about rust, as well as metal protection, I thought I would toss in another 2 cents....

One of my favorite web shops is

They carry anti-corrosion products as well as anti-rust and rust removal products, along with alot of other interesting stuff.

Here is a link to one product that looks interesting and is a heck of alot cheaper than Renaissance wax. I haven't tried this yet,however. Some of these products may be available locally. Haven't looked.,43415,43439,67014

This particular product would probably not be appropriate for your project, Mr Ed, but I thought y'all might find it interesting.

If you search for 'rust' you will find some other interesting products.

I use the anti-corrosion bags and the anti-corrosion foam - I keep small squares in my sealed plastic tubs of chasing tools, steel stamps and have had absolutely no rust on these tools. However,as I mentioned earlier,I did have rust on some tools sitting uncovered on my bench, but I fixed that and coated the tools with Renaissance wax and no more.

PS I am not affilliated with LeeValley - just a happy customer.

crquack's picture

I am a regular Lee Valley

I am a regular Lee Valley customer but I would be sceptical about any vendor claims with regard to rust inhibition. This is why Rich's personal experience is so valuable.

BTW Lee Valley also do Conservator's Wax:,190,42950&ap=1

On other fora there is a tendency to consensus that this stuff is the same as Renaissance wax and is considerably cheaper (cheaper even than Autosol per ml - just)


Rich Waugh's picture

I may have to give that

I may have to give that stuff a try as it is about 35% cheaper than Ren Wax. I know a lot of guys have tried to make their own ren wax but none of the recipes I've seen looked good enough to bother trying them.

Sandra G's picture

Hi crquack, I can only speak

Hi crquack,

I can only speak from my experience. The rusting occured on my dapping set, my chasing tools sit right next to them but in a sealed plastic bin with the corrosion inhibitors. Albiet the sealed plastic bin probably had a lot to do with the lack of rust, however according to Lee Valley's description the sponge basically out gasses a film onto the surface of the metals.

By searching for 'rust inhibitors' you can find a plethora of information on the types and chemical compositions of such products. Wilkipedia has an excellent description.

I also share your appreciation of Rich's knowledge; I am constantly amazed by the depth and breadth of his information. (Kudos to you Rich!)

And thanks for the tip about Lee Valley's conservation wax. Definitely will check that out.

Pounding metal today,

visitor's picture

Thanks for the info Sandra.

Thanks for the info Sandra. I appreciate all thee help and plan to check out that website.


ornametalsmith's picture

Thought I'd toss out another

Thought I'd toss out another alternative "coating". Rich hit the nail on the head in regards to ANY clear altering the "interferece" colors.............but with that in mind.
I've had pretty good results with "Protect a Clear" Everbright.

bill :)
happy hammering........

copperjoe's picture

I also have had good results

I also have had good results with protecta clear, it is expensive but it goes a long way and is self-leveling. I have been using it for years.


Can't never could do Nothing!

PaulaNC's picture

I make custom pet tags with

I make custom pet tags with mixed metals and use Everbright, works great but does give a wet look to the finished piece. Does not change patina, Rio's anyway. Also the company is great to answer questions.