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Singing bowls consist of different metals and therefore form galvanic elements, that is, a tension is formed between two different metals. Corrosion is facilitated if the metals get in contact with liquids containing salts or acids. For example, if a singing bowl got in contact with sea water and was not cleaned afterwards, you will see its copper parts surfacing after some time. This is visible as red-brown spots. This is why singing bowls should be protected against salty and acid liquids. After manufacturing in Nepal and India, our singing bowls are cleaned and for protection a fine coating of mustard oil is applied. Thereafter, they are only handled with gloves (so no salty sweat gets on their surface). The coating with mustard oil helps against the corrosion possibility produced by the salty air during sea shipment, too.
Singing Bowls in Nepal, singing bowls are cleaned with rice straw ashes. The ashes are mixed with mustard oil and the singing bowl is cleaned by rubbing with this blend. This makes for a clean surface.
This, too, is a way to verify the genuineness of very old singing bowls: if they have been cleaned this way for decades or even centuries, the imprints of the forging hammers have been softened by thousand fold cleaning. The rather sharp edge is rounded in the same way. Even the sound becomes more “round”, soft and harmonic. This is how can be discerned if a singing bowl is truly old or has been aged artificially to obtain a better price. After the cleaning with the rice straw ashes, the bowl is coated thinly with mustard oil to protect it against external influences.
In Europe there is normally no special protection needed for the singing bowl. But if you wish to protect your singing bowl and the Nepalese way feels too laborious, you can use a mild, scratch-free brass polish. If the bowl is heavily stained, try the following:
Mix one cup (150-200ml) cheap vinegar with four to five tablespoons salt and let this blend soak the surface of the bowl for three to five minutes. This provokes a galvanic reaction. Afterwards, the surface has to be thoroughly rinsed with water so no salt or acid stays on it. Then the bowl is rubbed down with a soft cloth and covered very thinly with beeswax or olive oil. This coating should be rubbed in in a way that it leaves no traces when the singing bowl is put on, for example, your client's clothes. A mild brass polish does equally well, but it should be a scratch-free product!
The color of the singing bowl will change over time, depending on how often it is cleaned. If you wish to maintain the golden shine, you should clean it regularly about every two months. Of course it is a question of taste if you like some patina on your bowls. The cleaning usually does not affect the sound of the singing bowl. Only if you clean your singing bowl regularly in the Nepalese way, its sound will become more “round”, soft and harmonious. The frequency is only changed if for a long time metal is scratched away by intense cleaning.