Cleaning and Removing Oxidation from Bronze Grave Markers

Cleaning and Removing Oxidation from Bronze Grave Markers

June 30, 2020

Keeping memorials clean is often a way in which people show respect for the deceased, and ensure that their marker or headstone will remain legible and beautiful for years to come. Bronze grave markers are prone to oxidation, which gives them a green patina.

If you prefer the patina, don’t worry—it won’t harm the metal, and many people find it a desirable, beautiful look. However, if you want to keep the bronze grave marker looking brand-new, here are some tips for tombstone cleaning in Phillipsburg, NJ.

Removing oxidation

There are a few different methods that people recommend in order to keep bronze grave markers looking fresh:

  • Vinegar and salt: This easy, simple solution can be cobbled together with ingredients you can find in your home. Simply mix white vinegar and salt together until it forms a paste, then apply to the grave marker. Wait a few minutes, then scrub and wash away the paste. The oxidation should be gone. Note that this method can kill plants and prevent them from growing back, so use caution and avoid getting the solution on the lawn.
  • Simple Green: Simple Green is a readily-available headstone cleaner in Phillipsburg, NJ. This multi-purpose chemical removes oxidation and keeps the marker looking new, although you may choose to follow up with a sealer.
  • Ivory soap: Ivory soap is good for cleaning small bits of oxidation and other grime from the lettering and detail on your bronze marker. Rinse carefully, since soap can kill grass and plants.
  • Brasso: Brasso is a product designed to clean and polish bronze, restoring its natural luster. You can use it as a cleaning tool on its own, or use it after one of the above methods to restore the finish.

Refinishing a bronze marker

Sometimes the oxidation is so bad that your only choice is to refinish the marker. In this case, you’ll need a stiff wire brush, bronze paint, a clear acrylic sealer and clean, dry cloths.

First, use the brush to remove all dirt, debris and old paint from the marker—you will probably need to use a lot of elbow grease to remove it all. Taking your bronze color coat, spray at a 45-degree angle across the headstone in four light coats. Then you can take your dry cloths and remove the color coat from the raised detail, which will create contrast. When dry, finish with several coats of a clear sealer.

If you don’t wish to paint your bronze grave marker, simply omit the paint step here and finish with the clear sealer.

When you’re in doubt, be sure to call the cemetery manager or the marker maker to get their best tips. They may have specific rules or recommended practices, and can help address your specific needs and concerns.

Phillipsburg Memorial Company creates long-lasting markers and memorials, including bronze markers. If you need assistance with tombstone cleaning in Phillipsburg, NJ or want to create a monument for a loved one, get in touch with us today.

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