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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

It Really Works: Silver Polishing Tip

I intended to submit this for the Kosher Cooking Carnival Pesach edition hosted by my friend Mom In Israel. But life threw me a few loops and I was tardy.


I picked up a cleaning book at the library that had a tip for polishing silver (you know, that messy job that you never get to, subtly insulting your inlaws who may have bought you the candlesticks or other Judaica that is now barely recognizable). After reading the following tip, I ran home to test it out and lo and behold, it works, although it needed a bit of tweaking for greater effectiveness. I doubt any reader of my blog spends money to have someone else clean their silver, but I know other people who happily pay a lot of money for someone else to shine their candlesticks. So, if I'm knocking some money off any reader's budget by sharing this tip, I will feel quite gratified. (It also worked well for the Silver Plate Kiddush Cups we have).

Line a plastic bin with aluminum foil shiny side up. Put a handful of baking soda in the bin, pour boiling water on top. The tarnish will come right off.


It worked and was far easier and did a far nicer job than the messy silver polishes, but it needed a bit of tweaking. After a little experimentation, I found that it was best to boil water in a large bowl because you want to cover everything at once. A sink lined with foil provides more space than a bin, although a Parve bin and a tea kettle will keep parve items parve. A multi-use sink would be fine for things you don't plan to eat off of, like Candlesticks. You will need to wear a rubber glove to mix the boiling water with the baking soda while turning the silver items if the water doesn't cover everything completely. You will also want to buff up the items with a soft cotton cloth immediately.

This is also a fantastic science experiment for older children. I can't remember enough chemistry to describe how the reaction works, but you will recognize the smell immediately if you have taken AP Chem.

11 comments:

ProfK said...

Sephardi lady,
I've used this method in the past but the "recipe" was equal parts of salt and baking soda. Don't overload the bowl or container because every piece being cleaned needs to touch the silver foil. And no rubber gloves, since rubber can actually cause silver to tarnish or wear down. There is only one problem with this silver wash. It works fast but the silver tarnishes again quicker. The commercial silver cleaners have an anti-tarnish ingredient in them. So it "boils" down to fast now and clean more often or use the creams and clean less often.

PS: if you live in a hard water area this aluminum foil method doesn't work right.

anonymous mom said...

Thanks SL and ProfK. We do live in a hard water environment but it's worth a try.

ProfK said...

Anonymous mom,

The recipe I had said that in hard water areas use Calgon instead of baking soda.

SaraK said...

My mom has been doing this for years with Spic & Span.

SephardiLady said...

Hi ProfK-I tried this a month ago and everything is as shiny as ever. I'm pretty thrilled. :)

Leora said...

Thanks for the tip to make this an event to do with your kids. I don't care much for polishing silver, but if I can do a chemistry experiment with my daughter, now that sounds like fun.

Juggling Frogs said...

I like to use a large (not necessarily unused, but clean) foil pan, put the silver in, cover with sprinkled baking soda, and pour water hot from the urn. (No salt.)

This works well to remove the tarnish. After a soak in this solution, then I use regular silver polish to make the silver shine and add the anti-tarnish agents to keep the look.

triLcat said...

juggling - that's what I was going to say - this removes the tarnish, but you should give a quick once-over with silver polish afterwards.

Tamiri said...

I tried this years ago as a newlywed and it made the silver blacker, so I never did it again. Should I?

miriamp said...

My oldest daughter (9) loves doing this with me. She's the only one with a sterling silver candlestick (my mil bought the other candlesticks, but my sister picked out these. The little girls have anti-tarnish treated silverplate, so those are still shiny) so every so often she'll ask, and we'll do her candlestick, the salt holder base and my husband's Kiddush cup (yes, that's all the silver, except for a broken water pitcher that we used to do also before it was broken.). I hate silver polish, and I can never find a rag to use with it... and I'm loath to use it on the Kos that we drink out of anyway, OU on the side or no.

artinreality said...

Can you believe I already did the silver polishing for this chag! Oy! But, I will remember this trick for next time around, though!