how to age metal in a few hours

Instagram has been all a flurry lately with the great finds at Target's Dollar Spot. Mainly, metal olive buckets and metal jugs for only $3 a pop. I was lucky enough to snag a few but like a lot of people, I wanted them to look not quite so shiny new and perhaps a wee bit more rustic. I know. The word rustic coming out of my mouth is momentous in and of itself. According to several sources on Instagram, mainly Laurie, all I needed was bleach and vinegar and water. Long story short, it worked!

I bravely went where I had never gone before. And I called it science. Here is what I was working with before hand. Practically mirror quality...

I can tell you what I did and I can tell you what I learned so you can do it better, si?

I poured an entire jug of white vinegar in my sink. Followed immediately by a cup of bleach. I then filled the rest of my sink with water until I could totally submerge my three items. I dropped in one olive bucket just to test. I had read it should take 15-20 minutes. Now I used a lot of water to fill up the sink so perhaps it was too diluted? It took closer to an hour for me to start seeing results. 

This is the only photo I took of the process because I don't know. The bucket on the left had been in one hour. The other two had been in about 40 minutes at that point. 

By a little shy of the three hour mark I was happy with the way they looked and removed them. 

What I learned:
Add the bleach last, once the sink is filled. The smell of the vinegar and bleach together was awful  and made my eyes burn. Apparently I am told this is chlorine gas. Whoops. 

Along the same lines, do it outside. Hell, do it in a bucket! My sink had a dark line right above the water the entire way around and as my sink is white this was worrisome. Thank you Magic Eraser!

Wipe the object down with a cloth prior to putting into liquid. And then don't touch it again. I found where I touched it the metal didn't change. You can see my random fingerprints around. I have no idea why this is, I don't do science good. But it just is. 

Don't wipe it down when you remove it. This removes some of the darkened look I was going for. I simply placed the objects on a nasty old towel, touching them as little as possible and let them air dry. No black stuff on my fingers afterwards. 

I did not sand. I did not use steel wool. I literally just let them soak. 

Annnnnnd.... Letty had fun watching the bubbles coming up off the metal. 

Not bad for a $3 item and a jug of vinegar am I right?