Step 2: Advanced Method

In this more aggressive method, we will clean heavily tarnished items using a piece of copper instead of aluminum, and a DC power source to stimulate electron flow. Make sure you don't need the copper donor material, it will be oxidized in the process.
  1. Just like we did for the basic method, add a few tablespoons of salt and baking soda to the warm water and stir to mix it. This will help our water carry electrical current (even without batteries, we are utilizing electrical activity).
  2. Attach a piece of copper, preferably with a large surface area, to the positive terminal of the DC supply. I used alligator clip jumper wires. Place the copper in the bottom of the dish.
  3. Pour our doped water into the dish, adding enough to completely submerge the copper and the piece to be cleaned.
  4. Attach the negative terminal of the DC supply to the item to be cleaned. Again, alligator clips help. Submerge the piece to be cleaned, making sure it does not touch the copper, but is near it.
  5. Watch as hydrogen bubbles, dirt, and oxides are blasted off of the surface of the silver, and the tarnish becomes shiny silver once again.
After a minute or two, remove the silver and rinse it with clean water, buffing it a bit with a toothbrush to remove loosened crud which may prevent the process from working efficiently. If the item is not clean enough, connect it to the negative terminal of the DC supply and submerge for a couple of minutes, then check it again.

If you want to remove surface scratches and restore luster, simply polish lightly with a jeweler's cloth or rotary tool.
<p>I used this experiment for a science project and it worked perfectly! Thank you for posting! :)</p>
<p>I have been using just this solution combo for all my silver fixes and it does work wonders! Baking soda and vinegar alone is already enough to perform mild cleaning but for an even thorough restoration, then this instructable with the aluminium foil is just what you are going to need.</p>
I'm a professional silver restoration and conservationist. This process, known as electrochemical (Galvanic) Reduction, uses aluminum foil or an aluminum/ aluminum alloy plate and a warm solution of sodium carbonate (washing soda). When the object comes into contact with the plate in the solution, it removes only light tarnish, not the thick, black tarnish produced by years of neglect. Pitting of the object can occur if the aluminum plate is not periodically cleaned. Another not-so-obvious problem is scratching of the object when in contact with the plate. <br> <br>Objects cleaned by this method may tarnish more quickly than silver that has been polished, for the object's surface will act like a sponge and more readily absorb tarnish-producing gases and moisture. The solution can also seep into hollow areas such as coffeepot handles, unsoldered spun beads around the tops of lightweight holloware, weighted pieces with minute holes, and any porous attachments. For these reasons, this cleaning technique is not recommended. <br> <br>Visit my Web site for additional silver care information: http://www.hermansilver.com.
<p>While it is a Galvanic ReDox I'll refer you to the anodic Index table. Elements with more negative indices will be corroded leaving the other element relatively untouched. I'm also linking to the University of Wisconsin chem fun page which states that silver remains in place (reinforcing the anodic index corroding the aluminum). <a href="http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/homeexpts/tarnish.html" rel="nofollow">http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/homeexpts/tarnish.html</a></p><p>I've never heard what you said about the silver becoming weakened though I'd like to learn more about that. </p><p>Have you been able to measure the concentration of silver in the solution by any chance? I'd be curious to see how much silver is in it per mass of silver.</p>
<p>Forgot to post the link to the anodic index table! <a href="https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galvanic_corrosion" rel="nofollow">https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galvanic_corrosion</a></p>
<p>why copper rather than the aluminum? Is copper simply more efficient or will aluminum work as well if I have a big piece of scrap?</p>
<p>Copper gives up ions more readily in this application and best results occur much more quickly. Aluminum is constantly coated in aluminum oxide and I think that interferes with the process.</p>
<p>Should not really matter, except that the + side will oxidize (assuming it can), so you can choose between aluminum oxide, copper oxide, iron oxide, etc. Copper will turn your water green, and iron will turn your water red. Avoid using stainless or galvanized, because the results will be toxic.</p>
<p>does this work only on silver &amp; silverplate? can it work on coins?</p>
Great way to clean silver, cost effective and environmentally friendly. Works just like instructed.
I've tried this and it works. <br> <br>Thanks a lot for this wonderful instructables.
Hmmmm. Ionic Transfer.<br>Dont really need the wires and all.<br><br>I've used an aluminum baking pan, hot boiling water, and super saturated solution of baking soda.<br><br>just drop the silver piece in the solution and its clean as fast as that.<br><br>needs to be wiped clean with a soft clean cotton cloth.
The point was to demonstrate the process in an interesting and educational manner, while explaining what is going on to readers. Thanks for commenting.
Very very interesting! I don't like the cleaners they sell I will try this sometime. I don't have anything now to try it on but that is what is great about Instructables! I start my search here and most of the time that is as far as I need to search. Thanks for sharing your hard work! Sunshiine
I really don't like the destructive methods for cleaning silver, and they are inappropriate for antiques or things like silver bars and bullion since they strip away some of the mass every time. Some cleaners aren't safe on certain stones as well. This method solves those problems.<br><br>I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting!
UW! I will vote when it is excepted. For some reason I am not getting notified on my page at instructables. I usually answer all my comments from there. Keep on keeping on I am liking your stuff. Sunshiine

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Bio: Hack the planet, and improve it.
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