Cleaning and De-Tarnishing

Polishing


RioGrande posted this video on YouTube

The non-commercial, baking soda method is the one I tried below. Here are some of my discoveries.

First, I will say there is a lot of controversary regarding aluminum touching silver, be it Fine, Sterling, or Argentium. You’ll have to do your own research on this. Regardless, . . .

This a great way to bring tarnished silver back to shiny-silver life. What I like is this: it’s a process that seems to happen by layers, which means you have a little control. Apparently, the sulfur in the tarnish is more drawn to aluminum; therefore, it jumps off your silver piece and sticks to the aluminum. 

Many of my pieces have been oxidized or tarnished in specific areas, as part of their look and design. If a silver-polishing method stripped all the tarnish quickly, my pieces would look flat and without character. This method left me some control over how silvery I wanted my pieces.

Materials

  • Flat aluminum pan or flat pan lined with aluminum foil with the shiny side facing up
  • 1 Tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon of table salt
  • 1/2 cup of white vinegar
  • Hot water, enough to fill the pan so that it covers the silver pieces (if you have very hard water this will not work well with your tap water so use distilled) 

Bring water to a boil and then add the baking soda and salt. 
Stir until everything dissolves.
Add the vinegar. 
Allow items to sit in this solution, checking often to the degree of silver versus tarnish (dark areas) that you desire.

After this process, wash the items in soap and water then rinse with lots of water.  
This will remove any dulling baking soda residuals.

See captions under photographs from here forth and for when to add silver pieces.

Materials

Here is Bear in the baking soda and salt.

Bring water to a boil.

I put the aluminum - baking soda - salt - silver pieces set-up on a warming burner on my stove. I would pre-warm any pieces that had CZs and/or glass in them, as a precaution against causing them to crack with the boiling water.

When you add the boiling water, it bubbles ferociously. It’s okay. 

Add vinegar.

Shortly, it stops bubbling. You can kinda see your piece and watch the black disappear.
I imagine keeping the dish warm will accelerate the process and chemical reaction.

Here is the thick snake chain, which I immersed only partially (need a larger aluminum dish). 
I immersed this for maybe a minute. Conclusion—this method works great on chains!

Here is Bear after about two minutes. I didn’t want any more patina removed. This silver highlights are shiny galore.

Here is a chain that was impossible to polish by any method I tried
(except risking using a polishing disk on my flexible shaft). 

It was dull grey.
Here is my hard-to-polish chain, looking new as can be.

Grab some more chains! This is a box chain, also hard to polish by cloth. It came out great, too.

This chain puzzled me. It was the last one I did. It did not polish that well.
I’m thinking as the sulfur is pulled off the silver onto the aluminum it begin coating the aluminum so the reaction would be slower. The next time I polish this way, I will put my tarnished cable chains in first and see how they do.

Also, oops, I used my cold water from the tap, which is hard water.

After this process, wash the items in soap and water then rinse with lots of water.  
This will remove any dulling baking soda residuals.

For online courses in metal clay, go to I Love Silver, where you learn how to design and create your own silver creations.

© Kris A Kramer 2017