Thursday, December 27, 2007

Best of Art Bead Scene: Removing Tarnish from Silver

This helpful tip was first posted by Virginia Miska on October 18, 2007. It's a great way to remove tarnish from your silver jewelry, pendants, beads, and findings using regular household products!

Did you know that you can brighten up your tarnished silver components and jewelry without leaving your kitchen? Baking soda is the secret ingredient in this method which I recently put to the test and have directions and photos to share with you.

You will need:

baking soda

aluminum foil


boiling water

metal tray

The photo below shows some ear wires that have been on sample boards for the last five years and had developed some unsightly tarnish.

Below are two cups of boiling water to which I've added 1/2 cup of baking soda.

After lining a shallow toaster oven baking tray with aluminum foil and arranging the ear wires so that each one had contact with the aluminim foil, I gently poured the water and baking soda solution over the findings. This photo shows the bubbles that formed during the chemical reaction.

Here are the ear wires free from tarnish and ready for a little buffing with my Sunshine Cloth.

A simplified explanation of the science behind this method is that when silver tarnishes, it combines with sulfur from the air and forms silver sulfide which is black. There are two ways to remove this coating – one is to remove the silver sulfide from the surface using abrasion and the other is to reverse the chemical process. When the tarnish is removed through abrasion (polishing) some of the silver is also removed. With the method described today none of the silver is removed. The aluminum is effective because it has a stronger affinity to sulfur than silver does, so the warm baking soda solution carries the sulfur atoms from the silver to the aluminum.

Thank you Cindy Gimbrone for bringing this method to my attention. Now there's no need to stress when I notice that my silver pieces are tarnishing with this quick, easy and inexpensive method!

No comments: