Chrome Polishing Your Steel Pan (Steel Drum)
One of the most basic things in maintaining your steel pan is to wipe the note area with a clean dry cloth after each time you play and to chrome polish your steel pan about twice a year. Its really pretty simple but there are a few things to know. Of course you need the polishing product. The two most common ones that you find are the Turtle brand chrome polish, which is very inexpensive and the Mothers brand in the red container, which costs a few dollars more but does produce a better shine on your steel drum. You can use two different cloths, – one to apply the polish and one to clean it off. Cotton cloth works well. If you don’t have cloth available, you can buy a pack of extra large white undershirts inexpensively.
First, make sure to thoroughly shake the bottle. Then squeeze out about the amount of polish that would equal about the size of a soda bottle cap onto the cloth. Lightly rub the polish on your steel pan from the center out. The most problems occur towards the center of your steel drum. If you have some pitting or discoloration, you can give those areas a little extra attention as you apply the polish. Finish up by spreading the polish to the large notes.
Now you will want to wait a minute or two until the polish hazes over (it will have a different somewhat dryer look than when you first put it on). There are two types of chrome steel pans. Hi-gloss chrome pans have the more mirror-like finish, where you can easily see your face in the steel pan. Then, there is a brush chrome (regular chrome) steel pan. Be careful not to push too hard when polishing, so you do not detune a note. With a regular chrome steel pan, you will not want to polish way too hard or too often or you may start to take some of the chrome itself off. Polish your pan about every 6 months and that is usually enough. Of course, you will want to keep a dry cloth in your steel pan case to wipe out the note surface after each time you play, especially when playing a gig. This will prevent pitting in the surface of the chrome. Pitting can eventually lead to rust and this is what you want to avoid so that your steel pan will last a very long time.
Once the polish has hazed over, take the 2nd piece of cloth and starting in the middle of your steel pan, use a very fast circular motion to remove the polish. Once you get to the edge of the large notes, go back over the center part of the steel pan with a clean part of the cloth and notice that’s when the bright shine will really appear. Use fast circular motion but not too hard. Finish up by polishing the large notes and around the rim. You will want to also polish the skirt of the steel pan, but the note playing surface is the most important area to do a good job.
Now your steel pan looks great and will last a very long time.