Silver is beautiful but it can tarnish quickly. This sometimes puts people off collecting it. Don’t let it deter you. Here are some tips to help you enjoy your silver.
— Use it. Regular use is best. Silver was made to be used.
— Wash in hot mild soapy water. To avoid spotting, wash quickly in hot mild soapy water, rinse in hot clean water and dry quickly.
— Avoid contact with scotch tape, cardboard and newspaper. Acids in the tape, cardboard and newspaper can be harmful to silver.
— Use acid-free paper. Wrap silver in acid free paper when storing.
— Avoid contact with eggs, onions and peas. The sulfur in these foods combines with silver to form silver sulphide, which discolors the surface.
— Avoid contact with wool and felt. These fabrics contain harmful sulfur.
— Avoid contact with rubber. Don’t fasten cutlery with rubber bands or store rubber bands in silver cups etc because rubber contains ingredients that can tarnish silver. This includes latex gloves. Don’t wear them when cleaning your silver.
— Avoid dishwashers. The combination of harsh detergents and very high temperatures is far too much for sterling to bear.
— Avoid salt. Remove salt from silver saltshakers and salt sellers after each use. Salt is a corrosive element. Storing these items with salt in them will damage them along with the rest of the silver in the cupboard because salt will permeate the air.
— Clean silver candlesticks carefully. Avoid using a knife or other sharp object to remove the nub of a candle. Instead, pour in a little hot water. Let it sit and then the remainder of the candle will slip out.
— Don’t store silver in freshly painted drawers. Some paints can accelerate tarnishing. You should wait 4 months.
Cleaning your silver
Here are a couple of methods to clean your silver.
— Commercial cleaners. A wide assortment of commercial cleaners is available at grocery and hardware stores. The less abrasive the cleaner, the better.
— Aluminum foil method — This fast working homemade remedy works like a charm. Add to pot of boiling water – a piece of aluminum foil, salt or a water softener such as Calgon. The chemical reaction among these elements quickly lifts tarnish. Works well for cutlery, trays etc.
— Toothpaste — An old standby that works in a pinch. Apply with a soft toothbrush. Remove with soft clean cloth.
Storing your silver
A humid environment encourages tarnishing. Caustic elements such as sulfur and salt cause tarnishing and pitting. Using one and/or more of these techniques will help to create a barrier between your precious silver and that pesky tarnish.
— Anti-tarnish strips — Can be added to drawers where silver is stored. These strips, containing activated charcoal absorb tarnish producing gases.
— Kenzied cloth — Line your drawers with this 100 per cent cotton per cent cotton flannel cloth. When used in combination with anti-tarnish strips, they provide a good barrier.
— Polyethylene bags — Store silver pieces in polyethylene bags that create a barrier from tarnish producing gases.
— Desiccated silica gel & activated charcoal — Add to storage area a small container of desiccated silica gel that absorbs water to keep humidity levels low and a small container of activated charcoal. This one-two combination packs a punch and absorbs harmful gases. Works well when added to polyethylene bag.
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