Maintenance and care of armour and chainmail

Maintenance and care of armour and chainmail Our weapons and equipment need to be frequently cared for. Especially harnesses, swords, helmets, hauberks and armour parts need a special treatment. When this is done they will often keep their good quality and strength for a longer period of time. Please note: even the most rusty armour parts or weapons can be restored with a few tricks to a shiny asset that looks as good as new.
Most items you purchase at Celtic WebMerchant are delivered in a layer of oil. This layer is made to protect the steel during transport. The layer can be removed easily and changed to a thinner and less notable layer of oil.

Caring of chainmail products

Chainmail products are often treated in a way that they don’t rust easily, for example by galvanization or bronzing. Oxidation spots can always occur after a long-term usage or long-term exposure to the outdoors and water.

In the course of time the rings often become duller because of oxidation. To prevent this, you simply need to use the chainmail frequently. As the rings move over each other, the dull layer is being rubbed off.
After chainmail has been exposed to moist conditions for a longer period of time, it can rust for real. Because not every ring can be treated separately, the best thing is to thoroughly rub the chainmail with a cloth. The rust will leave an orange coloured trace on the cloth. Don’t use sandpaper, because it this will scour off the protective layer of the chainmail, as a result of which the chainmail will rust more easily.
In the Middle Ages the rusty hauberks were often put in a barrel with sand, which was subsequently rolled off a hill. Nowadays this is still an effective method, you can also put the chainmail in a bag and swish it around. However, you should always use fine, round sand, course sand can leave scratches.
You can partly protect your hauberk from oxidation with silicon spray, like ballistol. When you want your hauberk to shine, use a fluid silver- or metal polish or wax. Do make sure that the chainmail is dry and dust-free before you use this.

Caring of steel armour and helmets
Armour can best be protected from oxidation by oil or grease. The opinions on which oil is best to use differ. We recommend Ballistol, but also sewing machine oil, REMOil and Vaseline are effective. Leather parts can be treated with linseed oil. Make sure that the surface you want to treat is dry and free of grease and dust. Please note: the replica doesn’t have to drip from the oil. You can smear it in a thin layer, then it won’t be visible that there is oil on the replica.
A lot of museums and exhibitions use Renaissance wax. Naturally this wax is not only suitable for historical objects but also for replicas. Although it is the number 1 in the protection from rust, the wax dissolves quickly from the surface while using it and the product has to be rubbed in again. Therefore it is an ideal substance when you have a sword or armour part that you don’t use and is part of a collection or decoration. 
Sandpaper or steel wool can be used to polish the replica and remove rusty spots. For light oxidation spots, a soft cloth or scouring sponge can be used sometimes as well. Please mind that this does not count for bronzed and brass parts. These will be scratched with even the most delicate kind of sandpaper. Especially for brass objects we recommend to also use a Rust killer.
Please note: make sure that the kind of sandpaper you use is suitable. Sandpaper that is too coarse will damage your replica.
From our own experience, we know that you can polish both steel and brass with fluoride toothpaste. Besides, this can also be used for jewellery and even table silver. Smear the object with toothpaste, let it dry for a minute and then rub it off again with water. The result is immediately visible and there is no danger for scratches and unevenness.


Checking
Always check your armour before and after usage to prevent accidents. Keep also in mind that wearing armour won’t guarantee that there will be no accidents, this mainly depends on the method of fighting of both parties. It is recommended to always wear a gambeson underneath both hauberk and armour. A gambeson cap underneath a chainmail cap or helmet considerably reduces the impact of a blow.
Nails and belts need to be on the right place and fastened tight enough and no chainmail rings should be loose. Make sure that there are no sharp edges on the armour or chainmail that could injure you or your opponent. After usage care for the armour in the prescribed way.

For our armour care products, click here.