Maybe I've missed this somewhere along the way..... What's the
advantage to using liver of sulfur on sterling vs. hydrochloric
acid (silver black)?
First, Amery, Silver Black is NOT just hydrochloric acid. It
contains HCl as one of it's componants, and it's listed on the bottle
to alert users to the danger of the acid. But plain HCl does not turn
silver black. It turns it a sort of smutty dull white color (the
color of silver chloride), which then over time fades on exposure to
light to a grey. But not generally a usable patina. There's some
other stuff in Silver Black too. Not sure about that exact product,
but some of them contain, in addition to the HCl, Telluric acid or
some such as well as some other compounds.
Does the liver of sulfur last longer? I've always used the silver
black stuff and sometimes it seems to fade funny over time, does
the LoS do that?
The silver black and similar compounds do not produce the same dark
chemical on the surface of the metal as does LOS. LOS produces a mix
of silver and copper sulphides. The color can vary according to how
it's applied, and how it's then treated after application. But it
generally does not fade away with time. Silver Black may appear
blacker at first, and then fade some as additional natural reactions
take place. Not sure. But don't expect any applied patina to be
totally permanent with time, as most will change some, generally in
the direction of the usual time induced dull black sulphide of a
natural "antique" black finish.
If I wanted to "antique" a sterling chain- where the inside is
black and the outside is shiny could I do this with the LoS- I
usually dip in the silver black and then hit it with a polishing
cloth, that seems to do the trick. Is the LoS hard to get off?
No harder than the finish produced by Silver black. The same
technique should work well.
The black antique produced by LOS does have one additional
advantage, in that you can remove it chemically more easily than you
can remove the "antique" produced by the acid containing products.
"Tarnex", or similar thiurea based tarnish removers, as well as the
household trick of putting the silver in a washing soda solution
while in contact with aluminum, will remove (though not repolish)
the black antique on sterling. It's not always effective on the more
aggressively induced black finishes, which may not be silver and