If your vintage lamp is rusted, it has likely seen its fair share of humid days, because rust forms especially rapidly as soon as the air is moist. You can eliminate rust by rubbing it with a synthetic, like steel wool, however, that treatment is very likely to scratch a delicate antique. You can also dissolve rust using acid, while vinegar — combined with salt — is only strong enough to perform the job without harming the metal.
Disassemble the Lamp
To see to the rust, you have to immerse the lamp in vinegar, so it is important to strip it completely before you do that. After removing the shade and bulb, you also will need to eliminate the electrical components, including the wire and socket, so that goes into the vinegar solution is the metal base. You must see a screw which releases the socket from the base; once unscrewing it with a screwdriver and disengaging the socket, then unscrew the wire terminals and pull the wire out of the base of the lamp.
Earning the Vinegar Solution
You’ll need a plastic container deep enough to contain the whole lamp, and you want to fill it with sufficient vinegar to completely immerse it. Utilize the least-expensive distilled white vinegar you may find — no advantage will be had in making use of a gourmet manufacturer. Adding common table salt to make a saturated solution fortifies the vinegar and makes it work faster. To make a saturated solution, keep adding salt and stirring until no more salt will dissolve. A modest amount will remain on the base of he container, which is okay — just keep it out of direct contact with the lamp.
Dissolving the Rust
Depending on the extent of the rust, it could take anywhere from 2 to several hours for it to dissolve. Keep checking the lamp every hour or two, because the sooner you eliminate it from the solution, the less opportunity the vinegar has of etching and dulling the metal finish. When the rust is gone, it is important to neutralize the vinegar by washing the lamp thoroughly using an alkaline cleaner. To earn a suitable cleaner, add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to a gallon of water and then pour in a ounce of dishwashing detergent. Use the solution liberally with a sponge.
Removing a Small Rust Patch
If only a little pat of your lamp is affected by rust, you may use a trick to prevent the need to immerse it in vinegar. Make a paste with salt and vinegar and apply it liberally to the rust. Wait for it to dry; then brush it off and implement more if the rust remains observable. It is possible to make a scrubbable paste by combining the vinegar using borax — it won’t dissolve rust as quickly as the salt/vinegar alternative, but you are able to take advantage of the gentle abrasiveness of Borax by scrubbing with a soft cloth to hasten the aging removal procedure. Wash thoroughly using a neutralizing soap alternative when you are done.