How to Remove Lacquer Coating from Copper Mugs

copper mugsAt the end of the manufacturing process, our copper mugs are covered with a protective, food-safe lacquer coating. The purpose of the coating? Slow down the naturally occurring tarnishing process when the item is being used. However, some of our customer enjoy the vintage aesthetic of a tarnished copper mug. Rather than the clean look, they’d like them to look a little “worked in”…old school if you will. If that’s your thing, here are two methods to remove the coating:

Method 1:

  • In a large pot (large enough to immerse your copper mugs), create a mixture of baking soda and water (1 tablespoon baking soda for each quart of water).
  • Bring the solution to a boil then submerse the copper mugs in the boiling mixture for 20 to 30 minutes. The food-safe lacquer coating will soften and begin to peel off.
  • Carefully remove from the solution and wash in warm, soapy water, scrubbing with a nylon pot scrubber to remove the remaining coating (don’t use an abrasive material like steel wool or you will scratch your mugs).
  • If there’s any remaining coating, remove it with a copper cleaner like Wright’s and a soft sponge.

Method 2:

  • Apply lacquer thinner (available at hardware stores like Home Depot) with a soft cloth & immediately wipe with a clean cloth.
  • If needed, repeat until all lacquer has been removed, paying close attention to remove lacquer from crevices and around the brass handles.
  • Wash your copper mugs in warm, soapy water and dry.
  • Finish by cleaning with copper cleaner.


History of the Moscow Mule