If you don’t own any silver jewelry, then you don’t know what you’re missing out on! Silver is one of the most popular precious metals out there. While it’s not nearly as attractive as gold, it’s used extensively in the creation of bracelets, necklaces and other forms of jewelry.
However, over a long period of time, silver can become tarnished. What are you supposed to do to restore its former glory? You can always polish the jewelry – but wait! The act of polishing actually removes silver from the surface.
Polishing can be especially hard on silver-plated pieces because the layer of silver is usually quite thin. Another issue with using silver polish is that it can be difficult to get all of the nooks and cannies.
Fortunately, you can transform your tarnished silver and restore its former glory, and you can do it without damaging the jewelry.
How to Clean Tarnished Silver
To get started, you’ll need water, salt, water softener powder and an aluminum plate or foil. If you don’t have water softener powder, you can use baking soda instead.
The procedure is quite simple. First, grab your aluminum plate or regular plate covered with foil. Add one tablespoon of baking powder or water softener and one tablespoon of salt.
Next, pour some hot water into the plate but avoid using boiling water because it’s too rough.
Stir thoroughly and dissolve the powders. You’re now able to dunk the tarnished silver into the solution. You might need to keep the silver in the solution for a few minutes, or it might only take 30 seconds to 1 minute.
If your silver happens to be incredibly tarnished, there is a chance that you’ll need to polish it after you clean it to get that beautiful restorative shine.
If your jewelry happens to have precious stones in it, then you might want to consider a different cleaning method because the abrasive compounds can damage the gemstones.
This also isn’t a suitable cleaning method for antiqued or oxidized silver. Silver sulfide is what makes your silver look tarnished and gray over time. It’s also called oxidation.
When you place the silver into the cleaning solution, the aluminum reacts with the sulfide and removes the sulfide atoms. It’s basically a chemical reaction that cleans the piece.
There are other compounds that you can use to achieve similar results, but after extensive testing, the method discussed in this article, which involves baking soda and salt, is the technique that provides the most noticeable results.
How to Polish Silver
Once you’ve removed the tarnish, you might want to consider polishing your newly cleaned silver. You should look for a product that has been specifically designed to restore silver for this task.
Earth Friendly or Blitz products are trustworthy. You can purchase an 8 to 12 ounce bottle of silver polish for anywhere from $5 to $16.
You should use a cotton ball to apply the polish. There are also some cotton polishing pads that are made specifically for the task. You definitely want to avoid using an old cotton shirt because if there is ink on the shirt it can damage the silver.
Once you’ve polished the piece, you can wipe it down with water. It’s not uncommon for the polish to leave a residue.
Mistakes to Avoid
Believe it or not – there are a number of mistakes to avoid. First, you should never wrap the silver in plastic. The plastic wrap can discolor the silver permanently. It should always be wrapped in paper towel or tissue.
There are special cloths that you can use to wrap your silver pieces in. Another mistake is putting your silver in the oven. Some people attempt to remove grime or dirt by placing their piece in the oven. This isn’t a good idea because it can cause the weighted material to melt out.
Whenever possible, you should try to make cleaning and polishing tarnished silver separate procedures. Some techniques that claim to do both at once are too abrasive on the silver.