cleaning mineral deposits out of a possible valuable vase
December 19, 2006 10:39 AM   Subscribe

My mother needs to clean what appears to be hard water mineral deposits from an old Van Briggle vase without damaging it. Vinegar?

Mom recently found out that a vase she's had on the shelf for 20ish years is a Van Briggle. After a giddy afternoon hopped up on Antiques Roadshow, she's convinced it's worth some money and would like to clean it up a bit.

The outside is in great condition, but whoever owned it before Ma had some extremely hard water problems. Or used it for an oatmeal bowl =P. Something that left huge rough patches of rock hard calcium(?) or other minerals all over the inside.

A mediocre picture is here. I think it shows what I'm talking about (Mom's getting into digital photography kinda late) but if a better pic is needed I can get her to take one with a tripod.

Any pottery heads out there have suggestions for the cleanup? It has the distinctive blue glaze that Van Briggle is famous for, and she's afraid of damaging it with vinegar or the more commercial calcium/lime removers, and that's all Google brings up. Thanks, all.
posted by dozo to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If she thinks it's worth something, she shouldn't clean it at all. She should have it appraised and then take advice from the appraiser about how to treat it.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 10:42 AM on December 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ask the source. Well, they're not really the source, since Art himself hasn't been around for awhile, but I'm sure they know.
posted by luriete at 11:10 AM on December 19, 2006

Response by poster: Wow, immediately two great suggestions.

Going the cheaper route, I called Van Briggle and they suggest soaking in Formula 409, then following up with a good scrub with some Ajax and a green plastic scrubby. Obviously, no metal.

Excellent advice, all.

Thank you.
posted by dozo at 11:22 AM on December 19, 2006

The water at my house is full of calcium carbonate. The way to remove that is with citric acid. It goes in the dish washer along with the soap powder. You can get small quantities of citric acid in the little de-scaling powder envelopes for cleaning coffee makers.
posted by jet_silver at 11:48 AM on December 19, 2006

Our water is so hard that after repeated dishwasher-washings, my glasses were translucent rather than transparent. Lemi-shine takes care of the deposits beautifully. (It's available at wal-mart or online, and it's also good for removing hard water deposits in the sprayer attached to the sink.)

I'd try soaking your vase in either lemi-shine or vinegar for a while before going with the Formula 409 and the scrubby.
posted by leahwrenn at 12:38 PM on December 19, 2006

You could try something even gentler if you are really worried. Mineral deposits are from hard water when it precipitates out. Soaking in distilled water, which should have no mineral deposits, may well dissolve the buildup.
posted by kc0dxh at 2:48 PM on December 19, 2006

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