I couldn't believe how easy this method was when a friend first told me about it, but it's great! I don't like using the jars of silver cleaning dip that you can buy as I find that although the silver is clean when it comes out, it's dull. The method below leaves it beautifully shiney, and what's even better is that it uses items that most people have already got in their kitchens, not nasty chemicals, and you can in most areas now recycle the tin foil that's used. A couple of words of warning though:
- DON'T clean items with glass beads, especially not precious lampwork beads, in this way, as it uses hot water that could cause the beads to crack.
- DON'T clean items that have been oxidised as the oxidisation will be taken off!
- Try not to breath in the fumes that will probably be given off as a chemical reaction is taking place.
- I prefer not to clean items with semi-precious stones using this method, as although the ingredients are very mild this is still a chemical reaction.
- A washing up/kitchen bowl
- Aluminium tin foil
- Bicarbonate of soda (I get through tonnes of this as I also use it for helping to clean my tumbler and for neutralising the pickling solution I put silver in after it's been soldered)
- Hot water from the kettle
Line the bottom of your washing up bowl with a sheet of tin foil.Wash your silver with soap and water and put it in the bowl on top of the foilSprinkle some bicarb of soda over everythingPour on enough hot water to cover your silver and watch in amazement! Take your silver out as soon as it is clean and rinse it overwise any residue could damage the surface. The hotter the water you use, the quicker your silver will clean. If you really really want to clean jewellery with glass beads in this way, use water that is only warm. It'll take longer and you may need to do it a few times, but better safe than sorry.
Dry with a soft clean cloth.You can just about see from the photo above that there was still a little bit of tarnish left over on the bangle so I gave it a quick polish with a silver cleaning cloth, the type that you can buy cheaply from most jewellers.
And now for the science bit.....this method uses a reaction between the aluminium and silver sulphide (the tarnish). The bicarb acts as an electrolyte, causing the tarnish to transfer from the silver to the foil.
A few more useful tips on keeping silver clean:
- The best way of keeping silver tarnish free is to wear it! The next best thing is the store it inside an airtight plastic bag, as it is the contact with air that speeds up the formation of tarnish.
- Make sure that your jewellery is completely dry before storing it.
- Silver hates rubber! Never store your silver in anything rubber or cleaning it while wearing rubber gloves or hold chains flat on a display with rubber bands - it could cause tarnish so deep that permanent damage is caused.