This very simple cleaning process is the best way to clean sterling silver jewelry or anything that is silver. It gently removes the tarnish with a natural chemical reaction without having to scrub the tarnish off, which over time can diminish the quality of your silver.
Sterling Silver Jewelry Cleaner Recipe
You will need:
- Plastic Bowl
- Aluminum Foil
- 1 Gallon Hot Water
- 1 Cup Baking Soda
Line a large plastic bowl with aluminum foil and place in the sink. Place your sterling silver on the aluminum foil. Add the hot water and the baking soda. Within minutes, you should see the tarnish being pulled from the silver to the aluminum.
Tips: Adding salt may help to speed the process.
How the Chemical Reaction Works
Silver is a precious metal because it is impervious to the elements and does not oxidize like other metals such as iron that rusts. Instead, it will react with the ozone and hydrogen sulfide or sulfur in the surrounding air, which will form silver sulfide, better known as tarnish.
In order to remove this coating created by this chemical reaction, you simply need to reverse the process. The trick is to find a metal that is more attractive to the sulfur. In this case, it is aluminum. When the two metals, the silver and the aluminum foil, touch each other, there occurs an electrochemical reaction as the two metals pass an electric current flow between them.
Did You Know?
Scrubbing your silver with harsh abrasives, even those that are sold commercially, not only removes the layer of tarnish but wears down the silver.
Did You Know?
Silver tarnishes much more quickly today than it did centuries ago because there is much more sulfur in the atmosphere?
“Silver FAQ – Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program.” Dartmouth College. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://www.dartmouth.edu/~toxmetal/toxic-metals/more-metals/silver-faq.html>.
“Remove Tarnish from Silver.” Science is Fun in the Lab of Shakhashiri. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/homeexpts/tarnish.html>
Jong, Michael de.. Clean: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing. New York: Joost Elffers Books :, 2007. Print.