Polish Silver in a Baking Soda
This method is NOT recommended for Silver Antiques. It does removes all if not most tarnish. But it also does removes the Silver particles. Items are lighter. Also most importantly, it removed the patina which are highly appreciated Silver antiques.
If readers are still interested in this method. Please continue reading.
Ingredients for Homemade Silver Cleaner:
- 1 quart of hot water
- 1 tablespoon of baking soda
- 1 sheet of aluminum foil
- non-aluminum dish
Removing the Silver Tarnish
Silver particles are moved together with the tarnish. Here’s how it happens…
Aluminum foil is immersed in a mix of baking soda and water. When the silver touches the baking soda and aluminum, a natural reaction happens… a reaction that transfers the tarnish and some silver particles from the silver to the aluminum foil. Bubbling should occur, giving off a rotten-egg odor (the sulfuric gases released by the cleaning action).
Sulfur atoms are transferred from silver to aluminum, freeing the silver metal and forming aluminum sulfide. It is represented in this reaction with the following equation:
3 Ag2S + 2 Al0 → 6 Ag0 + Al2S3
silver sulfide + aluminum → silver + aluminum sulfide
This type of reaction is called an electrochemical reaction because a tiny electric current flows between the silver and aluminum when the two are in contact and immersed in a baking soda solution. The addition of the baking soda improves the ease with which the electrons move between the silver and aluminum.
The reduction reaction restores metallic silver:
3 e- + 3 Ag+ → 3 Ag0 (s)
The aluminum oxidation reaction drives the reduction of silver:
Al0s → Al+3 (aq) +3 e-
Combining these two half reactions gives us the complete redox reaction:
Al0 (s) + 3 Ag+ → Al+3 + 3 Ag0 (s)
Step by Step
- Line container with aluminum foil and lay it in the kitchen sink to avoid spills.
- Line the container with flatware, jewelry, coins or other silver, ensuring that each piece of silver physically touches the aluminum.
- For small container, add four cups of boiling water followed by a quarter cup of baking soda. You can double or triple the recipe, as needed, to ensure the silver is completely covered with water.
- Once the mixture is added to the pan, it will begin to foam. It gives off a rotten-egg odor (the sulfuric gases released by the cleaning action)
- The tarnish will rapidly begin to disappear and you may see the resulting aluminum sulfide form yellow flakes and stick to the foil.
- Lightly tarnished silver will be restored in several minutes, while heavily tarnished silver may require a few treatments.
- Once the silver is clean, remove it from the pan, rinse it with clean water and dry with a soft cloth.
- Rinse the used baking soda down the drain and put the foil in the recycle bin.
This what you see after the reaction. The aluminium foil turn black with lot of black particles.
Lastly, patina removed using this method is not reversible.
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