View Full Version : A More Sanitary Method
03-21-2004, 01:01 AM
I've often heard that soaking brass buttons in urine is a great way to give them that tarnished look. I know that isn't the only way, and I would definitly be interested in a more sanitary method. So, what's a few other good way's?
03-21-2004, 01:20 AM
Don't do anything to your brass to make it look old, because even if soldiers were on campaign the brass would not look that bad and soldiers were exepeted to clean there brass every Sunday if posible or if they were in camp for a period of a couple of weeks.
03-21-2004, 07:53 AM
Welcome to the AC Forum!
While there are many agents and reagents thatwill readily tarnish brass, ranging from egg yolks to mustard to liquid gun blue, etc., etc.- let's not go there on this Forum.
While there undoubtedly times and periods during the War when the maintenance and attention given to inspections and the "finer point" of military appearance suffered..
By and large, the presence of tarnished and much tarnished buttons today is something of an overdone reenactorism.
The issue is not TARNISH but rather the modern bright finish often found on most all commercial vendors' buttons (with exceptions such as Mr. Kindred).
This finish is the result of a modern polishing process followed by the button being "sealed" in clear lacquer (etc.) to prevent oxidation and discoloration.
To achieve the "look" of a CW era button, one need doonly two things:
1. Remove or "strip" the clear finish with nail polish remover, paint remover, paint stripper, and a little 000 or 0000.
2. Then maintain the button as it "tarnishes" due to exposure and due to exposure to the sulphur in blackpowder smoke, etc., etc in a "period correct" manner using a mild abrasive and water paste. One such method used by CW soldiers involved fire place ash and water. Another was vinegar instead of water.
This imparts a low lustre, "hand and not machine" sheen to brass buttons that a CW soldier would have recognized and done.
How often one does that (for inspections, etc.) will determine how "bright" or how "dingy" one' s buttons appear. But, with the exceptions noted above,
"inspections" often appear in journals and diaries as the "de rigeur."
Here is trusting that your question was sincere and not "trolling for effect" or "flame bait."
03-21-2004, 08:04 AM
Actually, urine is about 95% water, 2.5% urea, and the remaining 2.5% is a mixture of minerals, salt, hormones and enzymes. Toxic substances are removed from the body through the liver and intestines, through the skin, and through breathing out.
Urine normally is sterile (as secreted); it does not contain any bacteria or other organisms.
"Sanitary" has nothing to do with it... :-)
After we're done whizzing on our buttons, we'll all head out to catch some larks....Okie can hold the bag, while we drive 'em in.
03-21-2004, 09:49 PM
I've found that it works best to remove your jacket before urinating on the buttons. Others, however, say it's important to keep it on. It's a question of style.
03-21-2004, 11:39 PM
Actually, urine is one of the better sterilizing agents out there. What really gets your brass to tarnish is a combination of the uric acid and urine salts. Another way to acomplish this, if you so desire, is to soak them in vinegar and seasalt, or coke (the soda). Coke will wear away at the plastic finish on the buttons, and then they will tarnish quite repidly with exposure to air.
03-21-2004, 11:53 PM
Curt...danke, mein herr. I didn't know about modern commercial buttons being sealed. I just haven't had my new ones on for very long and figured they hadn't had time to dull yet. Wasn't wanting them to dull, just wondering why I hadn't had trouble with it yet. I'll get me a bottle of nail polish remover and go to work. Thanks again.
03-22-2004, 11:32 AM
You could pee all over your kit, or you could do what soldiers did and polish your brass. Cleaning agents such as flour of emory and vinegar were commonly used to polish brass items and the steel parts of muskets.
03-22-2004, 02:10 PM
Sometimes I think "Confederates in the Attic" should have been subtitled, "The True Story of Guy Who Was Completely Oblivious to Sarcasm."
Honestly, "button-pissing" is soooo 1994. It certainly has nothing to do with 2004 and even less to do with 1861-1865.
All that said... Thread locked.
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