How silver tarnishes
Tarnish, which appears as black or brown streaks and patches on silver ware, is silver sulfide, a compound formed when silver interacts with sulfur in the air. Sulfur is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels and was a constant concern of homemakers when houses were heated by coal furnaces, and silver items not used on a frequent basis were polished at least once a month to keep their shine.
Commercial ways to prevent tarnish
Commercial silver polishes employ fine-grit abrasives, ammonia and other ingredients to dissolve tarnish. Some contain surfacents that retard future tarnishing. Other metal polishes and toothpaste (a popular emergency substitute) contain abrasives too coarse to be used on silver, leaving scratches that cannot be removed and permanently dulling the surface.
"Silver-cloth" contains tarnish-retardants. If you have favorite but seldom-used pieces of silver, wrapping them in silver-cloth will lessen the tarnish they accumulate.
Home remedies for tarnish
The best way to prevent tarnish is to use your silver flatware and serving pieces often. Regular washing and drying come with regular use, keeping silver shining. Acids, like canned tomatoes, and sulfur-containing foods, like egg yolk, do not have the opportunity to accumulate and discolor your silver.
Silver-plated flatware and serving pieces are in danger of being polished enough to remove some of the silver-plating. An easy alternative is to fill a large saucepan with water; and place a sheet of aluminum foil in the bottom of the pot unless the pot is already aluminum. Bring water to a boil, turn off the heat, and add 1/4 cup baking soda. The resulting froth will remove tarnish without rubbing. Reheat water and/or use more baking soda as needed. Rinse, dry and enjoy the shine.
Why Does Sterling Silver Tarnish?
Sterling silver is a silver alloy containing 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper. Pure silver is too soft for functional objects,...
Does Silver-Plating Tarnish?
Silver tarnishes. Whether it's sterling or silver-plate. the sulfur in the air reacts with the silver alloy to create tarnish.
How to Clean Tarnish From Sterling Silver
When a piece of sterling silver meets sulfur-containing chemicals in the air, a chemical reaction takes place that causes a black residue...
How to Get Rust Out of Silver
Silver is a precious white metal that is used to make things like coins and jewelry. Over time, silver can tarnish. Humidity...
How to Remove Rust From Silver Plate
Silver does not rust because it is not an iron-based metal. However, some silver-plated objects may rust if they have some type...
Baking Soda & Tarnish
It used to be that the only way to clean silver was to spend hours rubbing polish on the items until tarnish...