Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Holiday Tip: A Rub-Free Solution For Silver Tarnish

Date:
December 9, 1998
Source:
Johns Hopkins University
Summary:
A Johns Hopkins materials engineer explains what causes silver tarnish and how to get rid of it, without a large application of elbow grease.

Johns Hopkins Professor Offers Simple Trick to Lift Ugly Tarnish from Fine Serving Pieces

Related Articles


You're preparing for a holiday party or a family gathering. You've invited the guests and planned the menu. You take out your finest utensils and serving pieces -- then let out a loud groan. The silver is badly tarnished. It's time to tackle one of the season's least popular traditions: cleaning and polishing the silver.

Many people just reach for a commercial product and start rubbing. But a materials scientist at The Johns Hopkins University says a simple home recipe using baking soda, water and aluminum foil can remove stubborn stains from silver with minimal muscle power. Jerome Kruger, a professor of materials science and engineering, says this method is particularly helpful in pulling tarnish from narrow grooves and intricate patterns, places that are hard to reach with traditional cleaning methods.

Kruger is an internationally respected expert on corrosion, and tarnish -- like its cousin, rust -- is a product of the corrosion process. In fact, the term is derived from a Latin word for "gnawing," the same root that produced "rodent."

"Corrosion is the deterioration of a material, usually a metal, as a result of chemical reactions with the environment in which it is placed," Kruger explains. "Tarnish is produced when silver reacts with sulfur compounds in the air, such as the gas released when you boil eggs. Tarnish doesn't harm the metal. It's just ugly. Silver pieces are supposed to be bright, shiny and lustrous."

To remove tarnish, Kruger triggers another chemical reaction that separates the sulfur from the silver. Here are the four easy steps:

1. Wrap the entire silver object in aluminum foil. Be sure the foil makes tight contact with the silver in at least one place. Make a few cuts in the foil to allow liquid to seep into the space between the silver and the foil.

2. Place the foil-wrapped object in a large glass, enameled or stainless steel pot that can be placed on the stove.

3. Fill the container with a solution of water and 4 to 5 tablespoons of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) per quart of water.. Use enough water to cover the silver object. Let the mixture simmer gently for 30 minutes.

4. Remove the aluminum foil. Rinse the silver and dry it thoroughly.

The tarnish in the cracks and crevices should be removed by this procedure. If not, repeat.

Although commercial silver polish products will also remove tarnish, they usually require more scrubbing. "The tarnish in the grooves is very hard to remove with commercial cleaners," Kruger says. "The reason that this process works so well is that it acts electrochemically. There is a flow of electrons between the silver object and the aluminum foil, and that's what removes the tarnish."

The electrochemical process may not entirely restore the original gleam, Kruger cautions. People who want some extra sparkle may choose to apply a small amount of commercial polish to the broad, smooth surfaces of the silver piece.

Kruger first circulated this tarnish removal recipe in a consumer cleaning tips pamphlet produced by the federal agency now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He was employed by that agency before joining the faculty at Hopkins.

###

A color slide of Professor Kruger is available; Contact Phil Sneiderman (see above).More information on Professor Kruger's work on corrosion is available at http://www.jhu.edu/~matsci/people/faculty/kruger/kruger.html

###


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University. "Holiday Tip: A Rub-Free Solution For Silver Tarnish." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 December 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981208155359.htm>.
Johns Hopkins University. (1998, December 9). Holiday Tip: A Rub-Free Solution For Silver Tarnish. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981208155359.htm
Johns Hopkins University. "Holiday Tip: A Rub-Free Solution For Silver Tarnish." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981208155359.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins