How to Preserve Antique Iron Hardware

As a third generation locksmith most of my life has been spent working with vehicles, keys, and various types of hardware. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love my job! To be honest I’m a total hardware nerd; I collect antique locks when they catch my eye, worse yet I repair it and keep it functional for no reason other than I’m enchanted with the craftsmanship and designs of old hardware, and it makes a fun small project. Recently I bought an old latch from a pair of French doors that was probably made around 1920. When I first saw it it was covered in rust to the point where I felt I had to clean it to preserve it, but I didn’t want to ruin it by cleaning and painting it. I wanted it to look old but without being rusty and decrepit. So I hit the internet and learned this amazing trick! This is the same process you would use to season a cast iron pan. This trick will put a patina like finish on your iron, giving it a nice untouched antique look. To best describe this, it will have about the same look as an iron skillet. And the best part is it’s cheap and easy! All you need is apple cider vinegar, crisco, aluminum foil and a stove.

Be sure to only use this with iron, other metals may get damaged using this process. You can view the finished product on my Facebook here:

Step 1: Disassemble the hardware

Step 2: Soak the parts you want finished in apple cider vinegar for 30 minutes or more, depending on how much rust/dirt needs removed.

Step 3: Crumple the aluminum foil into a ball and use it to scrub the iron; this will remove the debris (the thicker the foil the more aggressive it will scrub), use the vinegar to rinse as you go.

Step 4: Set the oven to 350 degrees

Step 5: Generously coat the cleaned hardware in either Pam or Crisco. (I used Pam but crisco may leave a thicker coat with more sheen)

Step 6: Bake the iron for about an hour be sure to check on it periodically.