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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Silver Polish without Polishing

By November 20, 2013

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Before/After Silver Polish (Anne Helmenstine)I wanted to take a before/after photo of what you can expect when you use electrochemistry to polish silver, but... all I had in the house that was silver were some chains and one big silver bowl that has been black since the 1980s. I went with the bowl, which produced a picture that needs some explanation. What you see in this photo is the bottom of the bowl (silver again) and the sides/top (black). I filled the bowl halfway with hot water, sprinked in some salt and baking soda, and added a piece of aluminum foil. If you have silver cutlery, candlesticks, holloware, etc. that needs cleaned (even if it's totally darkened with tarnish), here's what you do:

Electrochemistry Silver Polish Materials

  • pan large enough for your items (or the sink)
  • hot water
  • salt
  • baking soda
  • aluminum foil
Dip the Silver
  1. Line the bottom of the container with the aluminum foil.
  2. Add the tarnished item.
  3. Pour in sufficient steaming hot water to cover your tarnished silver.
  4. Add equal amounts of salt and baking soda (about 2 teaspoons each for silverware, more if you are filling a sink).
  5. Allow about 5 minutes for the reaction to remove the tarnish. If you don't see any effect, you may want to add more salt/baking soda and make sure some part of the silver is in contact with the foil.
  6. Rinse the silver under clean water and dry it with a soft cloth.
Note that silver-plated items may not get completely clean using this dip (or any silver polish) because it's possible that the thin layer of silver may be so tarnished that it is removed. Having said that, I think this bowl is plated rather than solid silver, and it looks a thousand times better than before using the dip.

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