Do you know that silver, a highly precious metal, has been mined from 3000BC in Greece and Turkey? Over the years, its uses have tremendously increased. One of the issues that affect this precious metal is tarnishing. The million-dollar question that then begs is, can you prevent silver from tarnishing?
Yes, it is very much possible!
Before we look at how to prevent silver from tarnishing, let us first understand the science behind tarnishing.
In the Post
- Understanding Why Silver Tarnishes (The Science of Tarnishing)
- What Does Tarnishing Do To Silver?
- How Can You Prevent Silver From Tarnishing
- How to Remove Silver Tarnish
Understanding Why Silver Tarnishes (The Science of Tarnishing)
Oxidative reactions with sulfur elements such as Hydrogen Sulfide in the environment and air inform the tarnishing of silver. Silver corrosion combined with sulfur creates a darkening that is known as tarnish.
Consequently, you need to ensure that your silver is not only clean but also dry before storage. This is because any residual chemicals, oils, dirt, or moisture are possible to accelerate tarnishing.
Protecting silver from tarnishing is a significant task for both modern and heritage professionals.
Tarnishing On Pure Silver
Pure silver is highly resistant to tarnish. Nonetheless, it is too soft to be used in jewelry. Tarnish on pure silver contains the compound Silver Sulfide (Ag2S). As aforementioned, it forms whenever silver forms with any sulfur-containing gas in the air.
Tarnishing On Sterling Silver
Although sterling silver is a durable and gorgeous metal, it is susceptible to tarnishing. Unlike with pure silver, tarnish on sterling silver comprises of Copper Sulfide (Cu2S).
What Does Tarnishing Do To Silver?
Generally, tarnishing disfigures any silver object. You can remove the disfiguration by techniques such as polishing. Of great importance to note is that this kind of cleaning can turn out to be labor-intensive. Additionally, every time your silver tarnishes and you clean it, some silver content is lost.
Polishing, on silver-plated objects, can severely the silver plating’s thin layer. In extreme cases, it can remove the layer entirely. Therefore, if possible, it is prudent to prevent your silver object from tarnishing, particularly for heritage and museum purposes.
How Can You Prevent Silver From Tarnishing
It is impossible to protect silver tarnishing when you leave it on an open display. Do you know that even putting silver in a tightly sealed display case might not protect it if the case is not airtight enough or made from inappropriate materials?
If you are to be successful at keeping your silver from tarnishing, then you need to protect it from sulfur-containing gases. These types of gases come from an array of sources.
Some of these sources include:
- Pulp-and-paper industries
- Plaster casts
- Heating fuel
- Vulcanized rubber objects
The following is how you can prevent silver from tarnishing:
Avoid Exposure To Elements
We have already learned that tarnishing is a reaction to the precious metal with other elements. Therefore, it is only wise that you avoid exposing it to these elements. For instance, you should avoid wearing silver products while cleaning, swimming, showering, etc. silver reacts with chemicals present in water such as chlorine and bleach.
Keep Away From Wood
It is important that you keep your sterling silver from away from any chemically treated surfaces, including wood. Surfaces made of treated or stained wood will escalate the tarnishing process.
Use Silica Packs
Often, silica packs are found inside new shoes and shoeboxes. You can also find them in some clothing. A great attribute of silica packs is the fact that they absorb moisture. The next time you stumble upon these packs, do not throw them away.
Keep and store them with your silver products to absorb moisture and prevent tarnishing. Silica packs are available at your local stores.
Store With Chalk
Throughout the years, chalk has been known to absorb chemical residue and moisture naturally. You can put a piece of chalk either inside your jewelry storage bag or jewelry box.
Use Anti-Tarnish Strips
Anti-tarnish strips, which are made from non-toxic materials, are effective at absorbing agents in the air that tarnishes sterling silver.
Utilize Anti-Tarnish Cloth
Among the many ways to prevent silver from tarnishing, the use of anti-tarnish cloth is the most common and arguably effective. These cloths work by absorbing oxygen and sulfur in the air. To prevent tarnishing, they are normally treated. It is important that you use them regularly to swipe your jewelry after wearing as well as prior to storing.
Avoid Cleaning With Toothpaste Or Baking Soda
Many people are fond of using toothpaste or baking soda to remove tarnish. This is ill-advised, as both of these are too abrasive. While you can use baking soda or toothpaste to clean other types of jewelry, it is crucial that you avoid using them with silver.
How to Remove Silver Tarnish
Assuming yours is already tarnished, how do you go about removing the tarnish? Silver cleaning products come in the form of a dip or form. They can feature harsh chemicals. These products may not only strip but also damage gemstones. For this reason, we highly recommend that you use them as the last option.
The first step when it comes to removing silver tarnish is by using a simple polishing cloth to wipe off as much tarnish as possible. Are you using a dip? Pour some silver polishing dip into a bowl and dip your silver product inside. It should not soak. Extended exposure might damage your jewelry seriously.
Are you using paste? Using a soft brush, rub your paste on a straight line. To avoid scratches, it is prudent to refrain from using a circular motion.
For both a paste and dip, you should use a cloth to remove the polish solution. Once you do that, rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Failure to rinse thoroughly will cause the solution to dry white. To give some shine, buff with a soft cloth.
Before you store it, you need to dry it using a professional cleaning cloth. After you have dried it completely, store in a cool, dry place. One of the best places to store silver products is in sealed baggies, as it prevents exposure to air and scratching. Remember that exposure to air can accelerate tarnishing.
Alternatively, jewelry boxes that are readily available in stores can also be handy when it comes to storing silver. Normally, they come with tarnish-free cloth.
Storing silver in the right way goes miles in not only keeping them in beautiful condition but also extending their life.
Home Remedies To Remove Tarnish
To make your silverware or jewelry sparkle, fill a medium-sized bowl with hot water. Put a single tablespoon of laundry detergent, mix and soak your silver product for one minute. After that, rinse with clean water and air dry.
Water and a paste of cornstarch can make your silver look as brand new as you bought it. Use a damp cloth to apply. Allow to dry and rub off with a rough towel or cheesecloth. If you do not have cornstarch, you can use tartar cream.
Squirt a tiny amount of ketchup on a paper towel. Gently rub over the tarnished areas. If you notice that your silver is not getting shinier, allow it to sit in ketchup for fifteen minutes and then use a soft cloth to rub it. Once you do that, rinse clean. If your product has textured details, you can use a toothbrush to clean the areas between the crevices.
We use hand sanitizers mainly to fight germs. Did you know that they could be effective at removing tarnish? All you need to do is squirt a couple of drops on a soft cloth and gently rub away the tarnish.
Other effective home remedies include:
- Lemon-lime soda
- Window cleaner
- Hair conditioner