Chemical dips do indeed remove silver!
The following article is from my Web site:
Dangerous & Destructive Chemical Dips
As a silver restoration and conservation specialist, I have many
years of knowledge about chemical dips. I routinely receive objects
for refinishing due to damage from these horribly destructive
Chemical dips, such as Tarn-X, work by dissolving the tarnish (and
silver!) on an object at an accelerated rate. Dips are used by silver
restorers when heavy black tarnish cannot be removed with liquid or
paste polishes. Chemical dips are wiped over the object with a
cellulose sponge or cotton ball, as submerging the piece for long
periods will remove factory-applied patinas and cause pitting of the
object’s surface. These surface defects will act like a sponge and
more readily absorb tarnish-producing gases and moisture. The object
may then require professional polishing to restore the original
Chemical dips are made up of an acid and a complexing agent. Acids
are corrosive and will damage niello, bronze, stainless steel knife
blades, and organic materials such as wood and ivory. The ingredients
can also be harmful to the user, which is why silver restorers wear
nitrile gloves and work in a well ventilated area. Chemical dips
should never be used on objects that have sealed components, such as
candlesticks and trophies with hollow feet, or teapots with hollow
handles. Once the dip leaks into the cavity through small holes or
imperfections in the joints, it becomes virtually impossible to wash
the chemical out. If you’re working on a baby cup with this type of
rim, do you really want an infant drinking from it after using
The following is from their own MSDS:
"Potential Health Effects…
Routes of ExposuRe: Eyes, Skin, Inhalation and Ingestion.
Target Organs: Blood, liver, bone marrow, thyroid, reproductive
system. Probable carcinogen and mutagen: Thiourea causes cancer in
rats. Wash hands thoroughly after use.
Eye Contact: Can cause blurred vision, redness, pain, severe tissue
pain, and eye damage. Effects may vary depending on length of
exposure, solution concentration, and first aid measures.
Skin Contact: Causes skin irritation.
Inhalation: May cause mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract
irritation. Symptoms may include burning sensation, coughing,
wheezing, laryngitis, shortness of breath, headache, nausea, and
Ingestion: Harmful if swallowed. May cause gastrointestinal
irritation with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. May cause burns to the
Chronic Effects: Prolonged or repeated exposure may cause
reproductive and fetal effects. Laboratory experiments have resulted
in mutagenic effects."
For all the above reasons, this cleaning technique should only be
used by individuals with training in its proper use.