Thursday, October 18, 2007

Removing Tarnish from Silver

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!


Kerry said...

YOU LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERYDAY!! Thanks for this tip, it is GREAT!

Virginia said...

You're works like magic!

Jean Katherine Baldridge said...

very nicely explained and so much easier than those gadgets on tc they sell! thank you!

Sheikasaurus Rex said...

Great tip! So much faster and doesn't smell as badly as some of the stuff you can buy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful tip. I am going to do it this afternoon on some pieces that were on display for a while and are badly tarnished.

Anonymous said...

can you use this on pieces that have stones, crystal or glass beads?

Virginia said...

I'm not sure about stones and crystals, but the black glass beads on my earwires were unaffected by the process.