Introduction: This Secret Ingredient Cleans Silver in a Snap

About: Chimney Works And Rocky Mountain Stoves specializes in the repair, replacement and proper function of chimneys and fireplaces in the greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area.

We all have tried lots of different brands of silver polish to remove tarnish from our favorite silver spoons, teapots and platters. They work fine but are a bit expensive, smell funny and leave a big mess to deal with. There is a way to clean silver with something many of us either have access to in our home or we can get easily enough. The best part is, this secret ingredient is FREE.

Step 1: Get Ready

Get your self a nice cleaning cloth, and a small cup of water. I prefer micro-fiber type cleaning cloths, nothing too abrasive. Next, go grab the secret ingredient.

Step 2: The Secret Ingredient

What is that you ask?

Wood Ash

Its ash from my fireplace. Nothing special, but folks have been using this to polish silver for years. Wood ash has many of the same chemical properties as many household cleaners, and for those of you who dont know, it can even be used to make soap. So no wonder it is used to clean so many things.

Still don't believe that wood ash can polish silver? Read on.

WARNING: Ash from a fireplace can stay warm for a very long time, so make sure you only get ash that has been sitting for at least 48 hours.

Step 3: Mix Water and Ash

Pour some of your water into your ash. We are trying to make a paste here, so not to little, not too much.You can always pour out any excess water if needed. I recommend pouring it on a plant or your grass, as ash is also a good fertilizer.

Step 4: Dab Your Cloth Into Your Paste

Dab one corner of your cloth into the ash paste. Make sure you get some actual ash on the cloth, not just any water that may be sitting on top. It doesn't take very much, a little goes a long way. I had almost all of my ash left after this project.

Step 5: Get to Work

Take your cloth and begin rubbing. It really takes almost no effort, but I did find myself going over a few areas more than once. I found a circular motion on trouble spots takes care of things quickly.

In this photo I have just gone around part of the rim so far, you can already see the difference.

Step 6: Keep Going

Here I have completed a first pass on the lower part of the platter. Next comes the troublesome center piece, the bowl is pretty tarnished and even seems to have some pitting.

Step 7: Almost There

The tarnished bowl was no match for our secret ingredient. I have now went around the whole thing once. No kidding it really doesn't take much elbow grease at all. At this point I have spent more time taking pictures than I have cleaning. Lets move on to the next step, wiping it down with a clean cloth..

Step 8: A Job Well Done

Take a new clean cloth and wipe everything down. The shine really appears if you go over it twice. I didn't dampen the clean cloth, I found everything cleaned up nicely just by going it over a couple of times with a dry polish.

That's it! I'm never buying a commercial silver polish again!