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Ways to keep copper kettles gleaming

Q. We have a 12x15-foot copper stove hood and a collection of 17th-century English copper kettles. How can they all be easily cleaned without a drippy mess? Commercial copper cleaners which mix with water are not very practical or economical. After cleaning, can the copper be coated to make it tarnish-resistant? Caren Brelsford Ennis, Mont.

A. We fired this copper-cleaning question off to Kenneth Boyer of ProSoCo Inc. of Kansas City, Kan. His professional comments follow:

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"To clean copper utensils and hood, apply a commercial paste cleanser or a paste made with vinegar and talcum powder.

"Diluted hydrochloric acid products might be used but they are dangerous to handle and therefore not recommended.

"To help retain a shiny appearance, copper which is not exposed to heat (ruling out the kettles) may be coated with a commercial acrylic lacquer. However, oxidation will still occur after a while."

That sizable copper hood is a treasure in more ways than one. Its regular maintenance, although perhaps toilsome, will further enhance its beauty and c harm.

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