Cleaning Iron - Whether iron is decorative or utilitarian, it benefits from a good cleaning. Lacquer is usually applied to shiny metals like copper, but it also works well with iron. Chatelaine's Antiques Collectibles Appraisals


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Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals Magazine > Decorative Arts > Expert Tip: Cleaning Iron - How to Clean Iron

Cleaning Silver

Silverware Reading List

Silverware at Auction

Cleaning EPNS

Resizing Silver Pieces

Caring for a Lace Collection

Caring for Linen

Cleaning Silver

Preserving & Displaying Paperweights

Cleaning Iron

Cleaning Metal

Caring for Ivory and Bone

Professional Valuation of Antiques

Caring for Horn

Caring for EPNS

Cleaning Mother of Pearl

Tortoiseshell - tortoise shell


 Iron is highly susceptible to rust, but you can easily treat it using simple methods and equipment.

 Whether iron is decorative or utilitarian, it benefits from a good cleaning. Lacquer is usually applied to shiny metals like copper, but it also works well with iron.

 Iron was one of the earliest metals to be employed by mankind and it has been put to a great variety of uses. Hard and tough, it can be heated until it is molten, then poured into moulds (cast iron), or hammered into shape (wrought iron). Although it is probably most associated with utilitarian objects such as tools and weapons, iron has also been used a great deal for decorative work - in railings and in staircases for example.

 Iron has a great disadvantage, however - it rusts. Carbon dioxide, oxygen and moisture in the air react chemically with the iron to produce the familiar red-brown coating that eventually causes the metal to crumble away. Because of this, very little ironwork (compared with bronze, for example) has survived from ancient times in good condition. However, iron will last well if it is looked after
properly; you can now treat it with rust remover and special rust preventive paint and restore the surface to good condition.

 After cleaning iron, one of the best ways of protecting it and most other household metals - is to give it a coat of lacquer. This can be a fiddly and time-consuming business, but it does have the advantage of saving you the bother of regular cleaning.

 When cleaning iron or steel, you must decide what finish you want it to have. Many people like to see a high gloss finish, but old tools, for example can look very good with a brown/black finish preserved with wax. regular cleaning will keep your iron objects looking their best. You should periodically rewax any waxed iron and reblack fireplaces, but lacquered objects require no more attention than occasional dusting.


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