1. Find a tarnished silver object. Here we have an antique fluted candlestick with dark streaks down its sides. I bought the candlestick at Scone in Scotland in 1996.
2. Place candlestick in hot water with a folded piece of aluminium foil. Some sources say to add some washing soda (sodium carbonate) and/or salt as well. I put the pot on the stove on a very gentle heat to prevent the water from cooling.
3. Lots of tiny bubbles will begin to form in the water and on the aluminium. After a while you will notice that the candlestick looks cleaner and the foil begins to look dirty and tattered.
The candlestick is now beautifully clean and shiny. I filled it with jonquils from the garden.
This experiment works because the oxides on the silver transfer to the aluminium. This method is not recommended for silver that is supposed to have an oxidised or French Grey finish.
Other simple methods for cleaning silver:
- Polish gently with a paste of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water.
- Clean gently with a soft brush (not a toothbrush with hard bristles) and toothpaste.
- Wash in water that has had potatoes boiled in it. Rinse and then polish dry.