1+ 2+ 3 Tin Can Copper Tan By Andrew Lewis
Copper-coat a tin can, turning it into an aesthetically pleasing, reusable container.
You will need: A tin can (tin-plated steel, not aluminum), muriatic acid (sold in hardware stores as a brick
cleaner), hydrogen peroxide (from a drugstore), scraps of copper, splash-proof goggles, rubber gloves, waterproof
apron, plastic container, soap, hot water
1. Wearing protective clothing in a ventilated area,
mix 9 parts of muriatic acid to 1 part hydrogen
peroxide in a plastic container. Slowly add scraps
of copper, which will react with the acid solution
and turn it a blue-green color. When the reaction
slows and the copper stops dissolving, remove
the remaining pieces of copper. The blue-green
component is cupric chloride, which reacts with tin
and leaves a shiny new layer of copper in its place.
2. Thoroughly wash a tin can, removing all traces
of glue and grease from the inside and outside. An
abrasive plastic dishcloth might be useful for this.
Dry the can and gently place it into the acid solution.
The can need not be completely submerged, but
keep it turning to expose all parts to an equal amount
of the solution. After a few seconds, the can will
start to change color, and you should see a pale
copper tan appearing within minutes.
3. Remove the can from the acid bath and rinse
with water. Leave the can to dry naturally. Then you
can finish it with clear acrylic spray, coat it with
wax, or just let it oxidize to create a dark, neglected,
Andrew Lewis is a keen artificer and computer scientist with special interests in 3D scanning, algorithmics,
and open source software.
Photography by Andrew Lewis
58 Make: Volume 13