Friday, 10 August 2007

How to Clean Silver Without Harsh Chemicals

Here is a method of cleaning silver items that makes a great home science experiment.

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.
4. Remove the candlestick and buff with a soft cloth.
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.


Susan said...

Yep, it's a good way to clean the silver. I usually dump all the spoons, teaspoons and forks in a big bucket lined with foil.
My main reason for commenting, though, is because I can! Early on I wanted to comment but couldn't because of no google or blogger account. Thanks Kate.

phoeberae said...

I have a small square of something like aluminium but with Zinc in it too I think. You can clean all gold and silver jewelery with it. Similar process, boiling water, washing soda and a little time. Works brilliantly and reusable. I got it from a home show once.

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Oh wow never knew tis! hmmm now to find something that is silverware so i can do this nd let the kids watch for fun (and fun for me too)

Jen said...

What a wonderful idea! I will have to try this with some of my silver. Thank you sharing such an easy tip, I hate getting polish all over my hands.

Becky said...

Hi Kate! I've tried this, too, and it does work. Just have to be patient. Oh, BTW, I tagged you with a little award! I gave it to you for being so nice for posting pics from my home when we were last months COTM! Thank you! Becky

Rosy Inspiration said...

Wow! This is just what I needed. I've been wanting to go to the shop and get some chemical for cleaning some silver items I've got, good that I saw this, will try this out.

Southern Lady's Vintage said...

I have tons of silver that needs polishing! I will have to give this a try!

Krafty said...

Wow it really works!!!!!!!!! but i was wondering why your pan came out so dirty and mine never???

HoldTheMayo said...

My first try without baking soda didn't work. After adding baking soda to the pot, the results were fantastic. No more toxic polish for me! Thank you.

perkypoppy said...

Thank you I just blogged about this idea:) I linked your blog to my post:)

perkypoppy said...

Thank you I just blogged about this idea:) I linked your blog to my post:)