Nov. 28th, 2009

elhoff: (Default)
For Thanksgiving we drug out our fine china and silver. As is somewhat expected after being stored for 5 years, the silver was a bit tarnished. Rather than using the traditional silver polish pastes and foams, we decided to try the chemistry method of polishing silver.

Put a sheet of aluminum foil in shallow pan. Dissolve 1/2 cup of baking soda in about 6 cups of almost boiling water. Pour the water/soda mixture into the pan with the aluminum foil. Submerge your tarnished silver in the pan in contact with the foil. Wait a few minutes and watch the tarnish disappear! If the reaction stops, simply add a new piece of foil. When the tarnish is gone, rinse and dry the silver. This method is a lot less work that traditional polishes, and has the benefit of not removing any of the silver metal from the objects. It simply reverses the original silver oxidation reaction, oxidizing the aluminum, releasing some sulfur dioxide to the air (a bit smelly), and leaving all the silver in place. It does use a fair bit of baking soda and foil.

Next time I think I will try just a bare aluminum plate instead of the foil. You have to clean the aluminum plate periodically with a Scotchbrite pad for this to work, so if you are sensitive to that particular sensation, stick with the foil!

September 2011

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