A clear, protective lacquer coating is often applied to copper and brass tea kettles and other kitchen utensils, to retard or prevent tarnishing.
If you are using a lacquered utensil for decorative purposes only, this finish may be left on, and needs only to be occasionally wiped with a soft cloth to keep it clean.
It is essential that all coating is removed before using on direct heat or with very hot water.
If the kettle, pot or pan is to be used for cooking, or heating, removal of the lacquer prevents it from burning into the metal’s surface and from causing severe discoloration. If it will come in contact with very hot water, removing the coating prevents unsightly spotting that would be difficult to scrub clean.
Check the product label. The manufacturer may have specific instructions on removing the lacquer.
Some lacquers can be removed using a homemade solution; stronger lacquers require a commercially available lacquer removal product.
Solid or plated?
Solid copper and brass can take a much more severe cleaning regimen than plated copper and brass. Plating comprises a thin surface layer over another metal, usually steel, and thus requires more delicate treatment.
The easiest way to remove the coating is with a commercial lacquer remover, available at hardware and paint stores. Follow the instructions and repeat the process until all lacquer is removed, especially in small crevices. However you’ll get similar results with eco-friendly ingredients and just a bit more work.
Make a mixture of Baking Soda and Water (1 Tablespoon of Soda to each Quart of Water) and bring to a boil.
While still boiling, immerse the item. One half at a time if your pot of solution is not large enough to immerse the item completely.
After about 15 minutes of boiling, the coating will peel and lift off. Remove from the solution and wash with hot water. (Remember to protect your hands from hot surfaces.)
Use acetone (or non-oily nail polish remover) on a cotton or wool pad to remove any remaining stubborn coating.