Features January 2007 Issue

Bronze Polish Test

Miracle Cloth, great on stainless, also nails the bronze.

In the June 2006 issue of Practical Sailor, we conducted a comparison of metal cleaners to see how well they performed on our test boat’s stainless steel bow rail. That test produced a winner’s circle of three products Miracle Cloth, followed by

Bronze Porthole Cleansers
Testers tried 19 products on some bronze portholes that had been consumed by oxidation. The sections of the portholes left uncleaned are a good indication of how well the cleaners worked. Another gauge of performance is the amount of brownish-green patina picked up by the polishing cloth.
Flitz Metal Polish, and Turtle Wax Chrome Polish and Rust Remover (our Budget Buy recommendation).

A number of readers, however, wanted to know whether those recommendations also held true for cleaning that other staple of maritime metal: bronze. To find out, we tackled the task of cleaning our test boat’s bronze portholes. They made a perfect platform for a bronze cleaner showdown, having not been cleaned since the early days of the Carter administration.

WHAT WE TESTED

Building on the 16 contenders from our stainless steel test, we searched the web, marine catalogs, and chandleries, and added three products Weems & Plath’s Sure Shine, Metal Polish Pros’ Prism Polish, and Mirage Polish & Sealant for a total of 19. We plan to test the three newcomers on stainless steel and will report the findings

Bronze Porthole Cleansers
Before...
in an update to this review.

The products tested on bronze included seven pastes, eight liquids, and two sprays, with Miracle Cloth (a reusable cleaner-impregnated cotton cloth) and Nevr-Dull (a treated cotton wadding cloth) rounding out the field.

Cracking open the can of Nevr-Dull magically transported one PS tester back to his Coast Guard boot camp days and the seemingly endless hours spent polishing bells and belt buckles to the gleeful barking of the company commander’s favorite catch phrase "Shiny brass tickles my bass!"

Cost-wise, the products in this test ranged from $3 to $30. Most are formulated to clean a variety of metals, and while some specifically list bronze, none are exclusively bronze cleaners. As noted during the previous test, the liquids (and, to

Bronze Porthole Cleansers
After...
a lesser extent, the sprays) are messier to use than the pastes, while those using an impregnated cloth or wadding as the delivery method (namely Miracle Cloth and Nevr-Dull) are the easiest to use.

HOW WE TESTED

We sectioned our test portholes into fourths, leaving 1½-inch areas of uncleaned bronze between each section. Testers applied each product following the manufacturer’s instructions, most of which called for rubbing the product on with a clean cloth or paper towel and buffing with a second clean cloth. Products were primarily graded on how well they cleaned their assigned section, however, ease of application, the effort required during cleaning, and price were factored into the final rating.

Manufacturers add various types of waxes, oils, and synthetic films to protect metals after cleaning. We’ll conduct follow-up observations to see how well the products protect our newly cleaned portholes from future stains and oxidation.

Noxon 7 Bronze Cleanser
The Miracle Cloth and Noxon 7 topped the test field for cleaning bronze.
WHAT WE FOUND

When cleaning weathered bronze, the first thing you’ll probably notice is verdigris oxidation in the form of a protective green to brownish-green coating. This occurs naturally over time, and in fact is often prized as a decorative finish on bronze artwork, although most boaters fail to appreciate this nobler quality and just want it gone. It does make it easy to tell how well your cleaner is working, however just look at the amount of blackish-green residue on your polishing cloth or wadding.

One problem with some of the products tested is that they seemed to dress up the appearance of the bronze without really stripping off the oxidation. In some cases, the bronze looked good immediately after application, but once the "wet look" dried, spots and stains made it apparent the bronze wasn’t cleaned all that well.

As a group, the products advertised specifically as chrome cleaners (Mother’s Chrome Polish, Turtle Wax Chrome Polish, etc.) did well on the stainless, but were not as effective on bronze. Another marginal performer was Flitz Metal Polish, a surprise based on its favorable performance during our stainless steel test.

Miracle Cloth
If you’re looking for a single cleaner for stainless and bronze, we suggest the Miracle Cloth, West Marine One Step Metal Polish, or Blue Magic Polish Cream.
There were a number of products that did do a great job of cleaning bronze. Blue Magic Metal Polish Cream, West Marine One Step Metal Polish, Prism Polish, and Sure Shine all rated Very Good, while 3M Marine Metal Restorer and Polish, and Seapower Metal Polish earned a rating of Very Good+. The Miracle Cloth (the top pick in our stainless steel test) and Noxon 7 Metal Polish tied with a rating of Excellent in the bronze polish test. It’s also important to note that in some cases, the results between products rated were pretty close in most cases, hence the plus and minus system. In other words, while Miracle Cloth and Noxon 7 were rated best overall for bronze, those rated Very Good and Very Good+ were not far behind and should also be considered as viable choices should the top choices be unavailable.

CONCLUSION

The top stainless performer, the Miracle Cloth, did equally well cleaning our bronze portholes. And while it is less messy and has a slight application edge over Noxon 7—a liquid that earned Very Good and Excellent ratings both get high marks and recommendations with regard to how well they actually clean.

Based on our test, both Miracle Cloth and Noxon 7 are rated Best Choice for cleaning bronze.

If you’re looking for one polish that does it all, the Miracle Cloth is the top pick of the products tested so far on both stainless and bronze. We also recommend Blue Magic Metal Polish Cream and West Marine One Step Metal Polish as a double-duty polish. At 80¢ per ounce, the Blue Magic is the cheapest.

Blue Magic Polish Cream
However, if you’re not in a hurry to put the shine on your metal, you might want to wait for our final test results, which will include the performance of Prism Polish, Sure Shine, and Mirage Polish on stainless.
However, judging by the bronze cleaner test results, we have high hopes that Prism Polish, Sure Shine, and Mirage also will do well on stainless steel. Stay tuned we will report our findings on these three, along with the results of how well all of the test products protect the metals, in an upcoming issue.

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