Tarnished Silver

Q. I have many beautiful antique silver pieces that I would love to use or even display, but they are very tarnished. Can you help me make them beautiful again?

A. I did a little bit of science to reverse the chemical reaction and turn silver sulfide back into silver. Here’s what I did: Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with aluminum foil, then take one more piece and crumple it on top to form a foil bed for the silverware. Arrange the silver over the foil.

Fill a 3 quart saucepan with 2 1/2 quarts of cold (I used filtered) water and bring it to a boil. The reason you don’t fill the saucepan full is because when you add the baking soda it will foam up and over if it’s too full.

When the water comes to a boil, remove from the stove and put in the sink. The reason you do this is, again, the water will foam up and possibly over. Add 1/4 cup or a little more of baking soda to the hot water, and yes, it will foam.

When it settles down a little, pour it over the silver in the baking pan and watch.

Within moments you’ll see the magic start to work and the tarnish start to disappear. And a little warning is in order – this process smells! Be sure to do it in a well ventilated kitchen, or outside, and don’t stand over it admiring your work unless you hold your breath. It produces some sort of gaseous odor that I wouldn’t recommend you stand around and sniff.

Let the silver sit in the water for 10 to 20 minutes, then dump out and wash silver with lots of hot, soapy water, and rinse well, then dry.

What you’ll see is a brighter, shinier set of silver that still has the nicks and scratches and even the odd discoloration in spots.

It won’t be perfect, but it will be loved again. And isn’t that what we all desire?

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