ROLITE METAL POLISH: YOUR METALLIC ALLOY ALLY

Rolite Metal Polish In The 1-lb. Can

Pros: Safe for all polishable metals.  The only product that restored my Monel kitchen sink to its original luster.  Also for use on Fiberglas and Plexiglas.  Made in USA.

Cons: Skin and eye irritant – wear Nitrile (solvent-resistant) gloves and use with adequate ventilation.  Not recommended for plated metals.

I first became aware of Rolite Metal Polish when I was searching for a way to restore a 1930s Monel metal sink.  This 5-foot double-drain-board, single-basin beauty was the focal point of the galley kitchen in my former Craftsman-style residence.

Monel Update

For those unfamiliar, Monel was marketed early in the 20th century as a corrosion-resistant metal that was suitable for commercial use.  Monel‘s 2/3 nickel and 1/3 copper amalgam created an alloy that was attractive, easy to maintain and impervious to acids – making it an ideal product for residential and laboratory use.

In addition to Monel, Rolite also cleans, shines and protects modern stainless steel.
In addition to Monel, Rolite also cleans, shines and protects modern stainless steel.

In its initial four-decades of popularity, Monel was used for a panoply of purposes from aeronautics to marine to consumer goods – adding style and practicality to items such as refrigerators and ranges.  With the post-WWII advent of maintenance-free ‘true‘ stainless steel, Monel‘s unique industrial attributes eventually took precedence over its consumer applications.

Rolite Rescue

Superfine 0000 steel wool [also referred to as 4-ot] can be found at any hardware store.
Superfine 0000 steel wool [also referred to as 4-ot] can be found at any hardware store.

Unlike modern stainless steel, Monel‘s copper inclusion developed a tarnish that eventually dulled the nickel’s inherent luster.  Without periodic polishing, the subsequent layers of patina and soap residue made my sink and drainboard combination drab and unattractive.  One day, a buddy of mine suggested the application of Rolite with a piece of superfine steel-wool – a product he used to shine and protect the marine Monel and Fiberglas at his local boatyard.

Elbow Grease

Briwax/Rolite markets their own brand of high-quality steel wool.
Briwax/Rolite markets their own brand of high-quality steel wool.

It took a bit of effort, but the Rolite cut-through the years of dirt and tarnish to reveal a luster similar to that of a newly minted nickel.  A small dollop applied to a pad of 0000 superfine steel-wool and worked in a circular motion removed and suspended the dull accumulation – turning the purplish paste into a charcoal gray residue that was easily removed with a clean rag.  Once dried, the remaining film was buffed to a pewter-like gleam that reflected the metal’s original elegance – when awash in the under-cabinet lights.

Copperific

For precious metal care, Rolite Midas Touch contains jewelers rouge - a form of ferric oxide.
For precious metal care, Rolite Midas Touch contains jewelers rouge – a form of ferric oxide.

Next up was the old, worn copper vat that is now used to store kindling in winter.  While some prefer to display valuable copper pieces with their greenish patina intact, I gave it the Rolite treatment – to great effect.  No new-penny-look here, but rather a clean distressed-copper display of its vintage turn-of-the-(20th)-century heritage.  The same holds true for my original 2 x 3-ft. Richmond Carbonated Beverage sign in embossed brass.

Of course, you should skip the steel wool when polishing delicate items, or those that accumulate a minimum of tarnish between treatments.

Versatility

As is true with all solvent-based cleaners, the use of non-latex gloves is essential.
As is true with all solvent-based cleaners, the use of non-latex gloves is essential.

Made in USA, Rolite Metal Polish is acid-free and can be used on “all polishable metals”.  Aside from Monel, it also works well at removing accumulated residue on modern stainless steel sinks.  My house features two kitchens.  Both the brushed stainless and mirror stainless double-basin sinks clean-up beautifully using Rolite – as do the vintage brass escutcheon plates that adorn many of my home’s light-switches and electrical outlets.  When used to polish sinks, the Rolite formula also provides protection that avoids water marks by making water bead-up and roll-away.

Being impervious to acids is a neat feature of Monel metal.
Being impervious to acids is a neat feature of Monel metal.

The virtues of Rolite notwithstanding, the product does come with cautions.  Once your project is underway, the solvents contained can accumulate sufficient to cause irritation and the product is best used on a day when adequate ventilation is possible.  In my experience, the use of non-latex Nitrile gloves is also mandatory.  Despite its multiple virtues stated here, Rolite is “not recommended for use on plated metals”.

Availability

Rolite also markets a 2-lb. can for those big jobs.
Rolite also markets a 2-lb. can for those big jobs.

Rolite Metal Polish is provided in both 1 and 2-lb. cans.  For smaller assignments, a 3-ounce tube is currently marketed.  Rolite and (parent company) Briwax products can also be purchased at Amazon.com.

Rolite Company
596 Progress Drive
Hartland, WI  53029
262-367-2711

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