From copper bathtubs to copper farmhouse sinks, copper fixtures are all the rage—in part thanks to Joanna Gaines, who often incorporates the finish into her designs. So it doesn't surprise us that the Fixer Upper host has a handy hack for distressing copper for the rustic look she loves.
In the second episode of Season 5, titled "Family Seeks Spacious Upgrade," the host encountered a problem. Joanna wanted the brass detailing she'd added to a client's roof to look a little more weathered. But, of course, it takes time for copper to develop the beautiful blue-green patina that actually .
So, she and husband Chip decided they'd help speed the process along. After testing a variety of agents including salt, Chip landed on the one thing that worked to distress the metal: pickle juice!
We're all for using ingredients you already have in the cupboard, but the pickle juice trick perplexed us. After all, multiple sources say vinegar and salt, the main ingredients in pickle juice, can actually be used to restore or clean copper that's oxidized or tarnished.
So what's the dill? Does pickle juice polish copper or age it? Apparently, both!
"Salt and vinegar can be used to polish copper, but it also could be used to patina copper," Los Angeles-based designer and contractor tells CountryLiving.com. "The more time you leave the mixture on the metal determines the design aesthetic you are looking for."
A simple science experiment by backs up those claims: When soaked in salt and vinegar then rinsed, copper pennies looked shiny and new. But when unrinsed and left to dry, the coins turned blue-green.
To clean copper, Krzyston recommends a mixture of lemon juice, which is slightly less acidic than vinegar, and baking soda. "Use a soft cloth and the mixture to buff out the impurities of your aged copper," he says. "If lemons aren't doing the trick then grab a lime."
He's not alone. Lily Cameron, cleaning expert at , says she does something similar, and has blessed the method.
As for aging, Krzyston agrees that pickle juice is a cheap, easy, and effective DIY solution. "The reason it works is because of the salt and vinegar in the pickle juice itself," he explains. "Remember that the longer you leave the solution on the copper then the more aged your copper will begin to look."
Still, take this advice with a grain of salt. We received differing opinions on the matter.
"We do not recommend the use of salt, vinegar, or acids to copper because it naturally develops a patina over time," says 's Fay Friedman. "Even if that's the look you're going for, it's very difficult to control how much the copper will age."
Far be it from us to question Chip and Jo, but perhaps, in the end, it's better to let copper patina at its own rate—just to be safe.