and other easy methods of cleaning silver / removing tarnish





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Find a container large enough to completely immerse the items in water. The container must not be made of metal (use a glass, enamel or plastic bowl). Place in the container some crumpled alluminium foil, salt and sodium carbonate (or salt and sodium bicarbonate). The quantities aren't critical, approx. a quarter of a cup of sodium carbonate / bicarbonate and a teaspoon of salt per litre will do.  Add boiling water and stir.  Now place the items in the container and watch the tarnish vanish.This is an easy and non-toxic way to clean a handful of large items.

If you can't be bothered with crumpling alluminium foil and mixing salt and sodium bicarbonate, you can buy a magic plate, and activator crystals.


The items must touch each other and must touch the alluminium foil. If you use a disposable alluminium container you don't need the alluminium foil.

You can use a container made of another metal (e.g. steel or copper) providing you very carefully line it with the alluminium foil so that none of the silver touches the metal of the container. However, it is easier to use a non-metal container. It is also more effective if you crumple the alluminium foil.

You can use sodium bicarbonate NaHCO3 (also known as bicarbonate of soda, sodium bicarb or baking powder) or you can use sodium carbonate CNa2O3 (also known as Soda , Washing Soda or Soda Ash). Sodium carbonate is cheaper.

The procedure is often presented as an experiment for schoolchildren, in which case the method should be changed very slightly.  Place the bowl with the foil in a sink; mix the hot water, salt and sodium bicarbonate separately and pour over the foil / silver; use oven gloves to handle the clean (hot) silver; an adult must supervise. This is to minimise the chances of the child spilling water everywhere and / or getting scalded, there is no significance in the order.


Use silver dip, it comes in small jars (for rings, small chains etc) or large canisters (used in the catering trade); you soak the items in the silver dip for a minute or two, remove, wash well (silver dip is toxic) - a good method for traders who really don't have time to fiddle with hot water and crystals.

There are cloths which are impregnated with a tarnish remover: silver polishing cloths. One side of the cloth is impregnated for removing tarnish, the other side is a polishing cloth to shine the item.


How to polish jewellery

How to remove tarnish from silver without using polish

Ultrasonic cleaning

Styles (types) of jewellers pliers and cutters


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