Polish Silver With Tinfoil

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Introduction: Polish Silver With Tinfoil

About: I am a paper engineer, writer, maker and chemist wannabe. In addition to pop-up cards I design and build furniture, lights, costumes or whatever I happen to need at the time. Lipstick, a mixing studio, all-pur…

These are instructions to make a polish dip... it removes tarnish very effectively, easily, and quickly!

The aluminum foil combined with the salt will create a chemical reaction known as an ion exchange. The tarnish will be transferred from the silver to the aluminum foil.

This is perfect for large, highly tarnished pieces, because you can make enough to fill a large pot.. and it's cheap! I find it is best as a first pass though, because even when you buff the silver it won't have the same high luster as a paste-based polish (which you can make as well with regular household materials, see step 2 for details). But if you have a lot of large pieces to polish, dipping them as a first step will save you a TON of time, rags, and elbow grease.

Supplies:

1 sheet of aluminum foil

1 tbsp salt

2 tbsp baking soda

4 cups boiling water

Non-reactive bowl (i.e. pyrex or enamel, or plastic which can withstand boiling water)

Wooden spoon

Alternate, for dipping copper and brass:

Replace salt and baking soda with 1/2 cup washing soda

Step 1: Instructions

In a non-reactive bowl, add salt and baking soda to boiling hot water. Be careful because the salt and soda will make the boiling water foam up! Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve, then line the bowl with a sheet of aluminum foil.

Submerge the tarnished silver items for a minute or two. A slight sulphur smell is normal. Rinse immediately in warm soapy water and buff with a clean rag.

Step 2: Important Tips and Warnings

If items soak any longer than a few minutes the salt may damage the finish.

For highly tarnished items, you can rub them gently while submerged in dip to dislodge the thick layer of tarnish (I used a soft plastic brush designed for cleaning mushrooms)

Never clean different metals in the same dip, and never dip inlaid or enameled pieces.

Although this does an excellent job of quickly and effortlessly removing a lot of tarnish, to get the luster of freshly polished silver you might want to do some extra buffing with a paste made of 1 tsp ammonia mixed with 2 tsp whiting (aka chalk in powdered form). Then rinse and buff with a clean rag for a gorgeous shine!

The picture above shows from left to right: fully tarnished, after dip, after dip and additional buffing with paste.

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