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Cleaning tarnished Argentium hair beads


#1

Hello Orchid Members.

I have an unusual problem (please don’t laugh). I am 71 years old
and my hair has turned a lovely combination of silver and the
original dark brown. I am a Caucasian person but I have dreadlocks
that are mostly over 38 inches long and there are 60 of them on my
head. I decided a few years ago to wind each of them with 24 gauge
round half-hard Argentium wire. I got some from Fire Mountain and
some from Rings and Things and after hundreds of dollars and hours
of work I was very happy with my hair and received many compliments.

Then this year I had an attack of dandruff and used a shampoo
recommended by my dermatologist. Big mistake as it contained sulfur
and my lovely wire turned black! I have been searching the web for a
solution but I just don’t think I can put my head in the oven and I
don’t dare try pickling it either. Does anyone have a suggestion
short of removing it all (the wire not my hair) and starting over
again??

Thank you,
Mary P


#2
Does anyone have a suggestion short of removing it all (the wire
not my hair) and starting over again?? 

I have no idea whether this would work, but one method of removing
tarnish from sterling is to soak it in washing soda (baking soda
works too, but slower), while in contact with aluminum. Doesn’t put a
shine back on, but does remove the dark tarnish. And then I’ve seen,
in hair salons, procedures in hair coloring where the hair is wrapped
in strips of aluminum foil to contain dyes, bleaches, or whatever. So
why not try wetting your hair with a warm solution of baking soda
(gentler perhaps than washing soda?), and wrapping those wire
sections with aluminum foil to hold in the solution for a while? Try
one, and see if it helps… When done, then use a damp paste of
baking soda on a fingertip to rub the silver, which will restore a
bit more of the polished metallic look (slightly matte, not high
polish, but again, easy to do, and baking soda should be pretty
benign to your hair and scalp.

Peter


#3

Hello Mary,

You are a very brave woman. I work with Argentium and the only thing
that I can think of (that is safe), is to sand the Argentium wire to
remove the patina. However, first you need to resolve your dandruff
problem so you won’t have to apply any sulphur products to your scalp
again. Then, you can proceed with the very tedious task of sanding
by hand each coil of Argentium to a nice polish. Don’t let anyone
come near you with a power tool of any kind.

Don’t use the hardware store variety of sandpaper, you will need to
purchase the better quality sandpaper from a jewelry tools supplier,
or you can email me and I will send you a supply of it.

I would also guess that by the time you finish sanding all of the
Argentium it will be brighter than before your bout with the
dandruff.

Good luck,
Vicki Stone


#4

My first response would be to say to accept what has happened and
the, probably, interesting color contrast. Maybe purchase a very
thin yellow gold wire to weave or wrap into or around the
dreadlocks.


#5

Hello Mary,

How about leaving the wires alone and see if the natural abrasion
against the dreads will restore the luster. I have had silver
jewelry which turned black after exposure to hot sulfur spring water.
I continued to wear it and in a week or so, the tarnish was wearing
off the high points. Sometimes the easy things work… and sometimes
not. :wink:

Judy in Kansas


#6

Poor man’s anti-tarnish is heated salt water and aluminum foil. You
could try wetting your hair with salt water, wrap the silver and
dreads in tin foil and use a hair dryer to heat them up. The
aluminum foil should draw away most of the tarnish. As a Caucasian,
the salt water shouldn’t harm your hair.

Michele


#7
Poor man's anti-tarnish is heated salt water and aluminum foil.
You could try wetting your hair with salt water, wrap the silver
and dreads in tin foil and use a hair dryer to heat them up. 

At the very least it should stop the aliens from reading your mind
for a while :slight_smile:

jeffD


#8

Mary

I think a number of dandruff shampoos use selenium compounds to treat
the white flakes. Selenium is very close to sulfur chemically, I
often use it as a patina for silver rather than sulfur compounds. I
am not sure how adventuresome you feel or how chemistry savvy you
are, but one of the ways to clean silver is with electricity. Tools
like the Speed Brite use low voltage, like a 9 volt battery, to clean
silver. No need for voltages high enough to give ECT. All you need is
an electrolyte (shampoo with a bit of baking soda should work).
Connect one side of the battery to the silver and the other to a
metal comb (don’t remember off hand if + or -, give it a try both
ways) keep the area wet with electrolyte and see if this does the
trick.

Marlin