How to Maintain a Copper Sink: Patina Color Changes Explained

Before you purchase a metal sink for your home you should feel confident in understanding how to care for it.  After all, different metals require different techniques for sustaining their beauty and maintaining their upkeep.  For example, if you have chosen a copper sink for your kitchen or bathroom, then you have probably wondered about the natural changes that give copper its dynamic colors.  Most metal sinks require a coating of some kind to protect the finish from being damaged with normal day to day use.  If that coating is compromised in any way it can impact the integrity of the sink.  But copper sinks are different in this regard since they naturally create what is known as a living finish called “patina”.


From Wikipedia: Patina (/ˈpætɪnə/ or /pəˈtiːnə/) is a thin layer that variously forms on the surface of copper, bronze and similar metals (tarnish produced by oxidation or other chemical processes), or certain stones, and wooden furniture (sheen produced by age, wear, and polishing), or any similar acquired change of a surface through age and exposure.


What exactly is patina and why does it develop over time?

Patina is the natural occurring way that copper can protect itself from harm, the extent of developing a patina can range from the subtle darkening of a copper sink in your kitchen to what you would see on copper sheathing left outdoors year after year like on the Statue of Liberty.  As the patina develops, remember that it is a natural way for the copper to protect itself and not a sign of damage or that the copper is losing its integrity. 


Whether you like patina or not (aesthetically speaking), it can be affected by food residue left in the sink or abrasive cleaners.  Acidic foods like ketchup, foods that include citrus or even leaving toothpaste in the sink overnight can affect the patina.  But don’t worry, this will not harm the copper itself.   The extent that your copper sink develops a patina can be totally up to you and can be easily managed with ongoing basic maintenance.  In fact, if you wish you can just sit back and soon you will notice that the patina will self-correct on its own.  If you want to be more pro-active to prevent this from occasionally happening, then you can put a thin layer of wax on your sink to protect the patina or simply wash your sink as needed using a mild soap and a soft cloth, making sure you are not leaving food residue in the sink for prolong periods of time.


Final thoughts:

In general caring for a copper sink isn't significantly different from cleaning a sink made from any other material.  If you miss a spot remember that it will self-correct.  Whether you enjoy the various shades of patina in your copper sink or the innate shine, enjoy this natural beauty unique to copper. No matter if it is in the bathroom or decorating the kitchen, if you do this marvel of natural justice, it will last a lifetime. 


Other tips and ideas about copper sinks that you might like:

Did you know about the health benefits of copper?

Get inspired with 5 top ideas for copper bathtubs

How to clean a copper sink professionally