Silver goes green (Day 267)…


In the midst of cleaning out all the junk under my bathroom counter (people at open houses can be pretty snoopy — I am, too, actually), I found lots of silver jewellery that had been sitting unused, getting tarnished and dusty. I still like all of it, though, and am not quite ready to give it away or toss it out, but it definitely needs a good polish.

Instead of using a solvent like Twinkle or Tarni-Shield, however, I’m going to go the green route and try boiling it in a pot of water with some baking soda and tin foil. I’m not quite sure how this works on a molecular level (Rhett, maybe you can explain for those of us with itty bitty left brains?), but the hippies seem to think it’s just as effective and far less toxic. At the very least it’ll be less abrasive than that Scourmaster up there.

Image courtesy of these highly polished folks

10 Responses to Silver goes green (Day 267)…

  1. kristine says:

    i’ve tried this with salt instead of baking soda and it works like a charm!

  2. Opal says:

    I’ve had good luck polishing silver with baking soda paste. The tarnish came right off of my bracelet with nearly no effort.

  3. Jennie says:

    I use toothpaste. Brush it on with an old toothbrush & rinse in a bowl of warm water. Finish with a soft cloth. Shines like new!

  4. Rebekka says:

    If you want to do this even greener, try to get a second-hand aluminium cooking pot – most people don’t want to cook with them any more because they’re supposed to be toxic, but for boiling up silver they’re perfect, and re-usable unlike foil.

    And washing soda (sodium carbonate) works much better than baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). The way it works is that the sodium carbonate and the aluminium react, because aluminium is more reactive than silver, and the reaction grabs an oxygen molecule from the silver oxide, which is the tarnish on silver, turning it back into silver and oxidises the aluminium, turning it into aluminium oxide (which is why if you use foil the foil ends up all crumbly). Sodium carbonate is more reactive than sodium bicarbonate so the reaction cleans the silver more effectively.

    By the way, this is also better for your silver in the long run, because instead of rubbing the tarnish off, it turns the tarnish back into silver!

  5. crstn85 says:

    Your e-cloth doesn’t magically clean silver too?

    Do you know who distributes the cloths? I can only find them online in the UK, and they don’t know if anyone is selling in the US. I live in the northeast (MA/NH border) so I could get them from Canada without too great of a shipping distance.

  6. Rhett says:

    Rebekka beat me to it and possibly gave a far better answer than I would. Guess that’s what happens when I unplug from the Web for my family’s Thanksgiving. 🙂

    Either way, I love the link love.

  7. emma says:

    toothpaste eh? Really? What if my toothpaste is Crest Extra extra whitening? I’m going to test this theory. But if my silver turns white I’m blaming you. (kidding)

  8. Jen says:

    Also, cream of tarter and lemon juice as a paste works great.

  9. SP says:

    I often will just use an old toothbrush and some baking soda and water in a paste. Cleans right up.

  10. Renee says:

    I don’t use a solvent for my silver. Instead, I use a flannel polishing cloth which is made from 100% cotton flannel; you can use them for years and years without ever having to wash them. I realize that cotton is not the greenest but I wonder if general organic cotton flannel fabric or repurposed flannel sheets would work . Or if the longevity of this type of product would make up for the problems associated with cotton.

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