Sealing Liver-of-sulfur on Copper

by Emiko

Hello, So I've just used some Stabilized LOS on some copper necklaces. I want to make sure that no residue comes off onto my customers clothes or skin. This is my first time using this. When it dries will it be more "permanent" or do I need to seal it with the Permalac Spray that you mentioned in your article? If so, is this something that I would likely find at my local Michael's Arts and Crafts store...or is there an alternative I might find there other than the Permalac? Thank you so much for your help!


Stacy's Answer:

If your patina is rubbing off, Emiko, the temperature of your solution is probably not hot enough. If you heat the metal first by dipping it in very hot water, your liver-of-sulfur solution will not get cooled down by having cold metal immersed in it.

It should only take seconds to turn copper very black. When you remove the piece from the LOS solution, if it looks velvety your solution is too cool and you're getting a build-up of the LOS. Your copper should almost look enameled black when you remove it, which does not rub off. Even so, I still let it dry and then tumble it to remove any excess patina and really polish up the piece! 2 hours max should do the trick.

I tumble polish my jewelry items completely before adding a patina. After removing the oxidized items from the tumbler, I then polish them by hand using a Sunshine polishing cloth available from Rio Grande. I love the way these work on copper! Polishing and finishing is a tedious business, but the end results are well worth the effort!

To seal the patina I prefer Permalac. But you can purchase spray and dip patinas from you local craft-style stores too. Many folks use Rust-o-leum clear lacquer spray and I've seen different metal sealants in these stores, I just haven't tried most of them. For a light protective coating, Renaissance Wax works well too. It's a hard wax that, when applied, you let dry and then use some elbow grease and buff it to produce a wonderful luster. I've found it's best for earrings and "low traffic" areas.

As to the residue coming off on the's copper and copper is known as a dirty metal. It often leaves a blackish or greenish mark on the skin wherever it comes into contact with it. The mark washes right off with soap and water. The amount of marking depends upon a person's body chemistry and the heat and humidity of air. Hot, damp places like Florida :) usually make a person perspire more. The salt, etc. causes a reaction with the copper, thus leaving a mark on the skin.

I don't wear copper during the summers here, but bring it out in the Fall when its warm rich colors are a perfect complement to the Autumn hues!

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