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Old 01-09-2006, 11:03 PM
Jamo Jamo is offline
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Join Date: May 2005
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re:Effects of water on bronze

does anybody know anything about bronze and water fountains. What are the effects on the corrosion of the bronze overtime? say a sculpture is designed as a fountain for pond water. My guess would be that it would slightly increase the corrosion rate of the bronze over time. any thoughts on this from anyone else? I see many sculptures designed with long term contact to water as a factor. I don't see this as a major factor in deterioration of the bronze assuming the water doesn't have any corrosive compound in it and it is not salt sea water. What about chlorinated treated water vs lake water?
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Old 01-11-2006, 03:16 PM
EJB EJB is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2003
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Re: Effects of water on bronze

The effects of water on bronze in a fountain application will vary greatly on the overall circumstances. Just like getting a consitent chemical patina on bronze, seemingly insignificant elements can make a big difference. The main thing is to know your alloys. In my experience silicon bronze holds up the best in fountains. Cheap castings with a lot of zinc or tin or other such metals can cause real problems. Metals tend to migrate in solution. Over time elements within your alloys may migrate out or onto your sculpture. This includes every piece of metal in your plumbing as well. This usually not a big deal for a well cast piece with a traditional green/brown patina, however don't expect your piece to stay the same color as the first day you applied the patina. For this reason it is usually best to stay away from the fancy colors and stick with the range that is closer to natural oxidation of bronze. Perhaps a bigger potential problem is mineral build up. When water evaporates on the surface it leaves a small amount of minerals previously suspended in the water. Given enough time this can look like a moldy fungus, which incidentally would be the next potential problem since the coarse surface of the minerals gives algae and mold a place to hang onto. The bond of mineral to metal gets stronger over time and at some point the only way to clean the piece is to sandblast and re-patina. I've heard tell of various water additives developed in recent years that are supposed to reduce this problem but have not personally tried any out. High mineral content is problematic here in the southwest. Pond water will likely have its own peculiarity. Clorine in the water will reduce algae but also accelerate the 'greening' of your bronze sculpture. Muriatic acid will help keep the minerals in check but will also destroy your patina almost instantly. Chemical additives also can be detrimental to plants and wildlife in the pond. If the piece is intended to be cleaned periodically it is best to design the installation so that the piece can be removed from the pond to avoid contamination by hazardous ceaning solutions or processes.
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