Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Polishing Silver

Getting in a patch of vintage silver means more than photographs and research. It means POLISHING and lots of it.

I remember my godmother’s pink polish. Out came the house hold flatware and the teapots and all the thing-a-ma-jigs that were bought and used in a proper home.Out came rags and the big jar of pink polish bought at woolworths. Of course all the kids were enlisted and the pink polish quickly (or not so quickly) became black on the cotton rags as the silver began to sparkle. I screamed slave labor, I wasn’t a radical kid but honestly felt that the kids should be able to use the sterling tea set if we had to clean them. The adults disagreed.

Fond memories of my family doesn’t make polishing silver any more of a joy today. Especially when we get in a large group. Laziness however is the mother of ingenuity and experimentation.

Eco Friendly silver polishing

1tablespoon Baking Soda
1tablespoon Salt
a crumbled up or not so crumbled up piece of aluminum wrap
a big glass or plastic bowl
warm water
and cotton rags
I have seen a few versions of this formula. I have tried out all if not most. Some call for boiling the water. This one seems to be the most efficient and the best for the lazy polisher. Really easy and eco friendly how can you go wrong?
Just put warm water, baking soda and salt in a bowl mix add silver and aluminum foil. The warmer the water the quicker it cleans. I leave it for about an hour. The tarnish is pulled off. Then dry and buff with a cotton rag.

what you need to know:
this does not work on gold wash.
Do not use this with jewelry that has sensitive stones. If you drop a piece of flatware in that is not silver by mistake it will become black (pulls the tarnish instead of the aluminum)
some pieces are too tarnished for this to work. :(

So I got my first patch of sterling spoons, baby cups, porridge bowls and silver chains done today. So much easier and with less elbow grease than the pink paste polish. Of course I left on a bit of patina what good is the point of making vintage silver shine like new?
oh and the best way to prevent tarnish on sterling? USE IT.

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