Hoping that someone can help me figure this out. Sterling put in our
ultrasonic cleaner has recently started to tarnish while in the
ultrasonic. The ultrasonic temperature is set to about 60 C. Silver
tarnishes at lower temps too. We use Ajax dishwashing liquid and tap
water as the cleaning solution. We thought some of our tweezers or
the metal basket in the ultrasonic might be contaminating the
solution (by being used accidentally in the liver of sulphur) but
everything has been well washed and new solution has been made. It’s
still happening. Any ideas?
It’s possible that your tap water has an increase in sulfur ions for
some water treatment reason. Try using distilled water with your
detergent and see if that helps.
Nancy- Good to see that you all did the right thing by cleaning
tweezers etc. I wonder if it isn’t your water source.
Are you using well water or city water? Any Fracking nearby? For what
it’s worth we add ammonia to or soap and water solution in the sonic.
Hope you can solve this mystery.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
try *Distilled *water and no ajax. Its not necessary to use any
additives but if you like buy one from a jewelry supply vendor
specifically for ultrasonics-Some hard tap water has minerals that
will attach to the copper in the sterling and remain in the seams,
etc. of the machine despite a good rinse. If your machine heats up
the distilled water and vibration should clean the pieces well.
Another issue may be the solder being used, findings or previous work
on repair pieces. non-plumb solder can cause problems-always buy
plumb types they are the pure metal or common alloy(as in the case of
sterling silver and white gold) white gold contains nickel- that
always causes problems in with other metals or on its own reacting
with certain cleaning agents. polish that with compound and use only
distilled water in the ultrasonic (or dedicate o a smaller unit for
ferrous containing alloys). If you want a safe soap additive try Dr.
Bronner’s Sal Suds- super concentrated and extremely biodegradable -
a couple of drops is all that’s necessary.
Hoping that someone can help me figure this out. Sterling put in
our ultrasonic cleaner has recently started to tarnish while in the
Just leave stuff in the ultrasonic long enough to get the dirt/rouge
off (maybe 30 seconds).
If I leave sterling in my ultra- for a half hour it gets “tarnished”
I use ZEP Heavy Duty Floor Stripper & water in my ultrasonic
It has a very high pH (basic) and won’t damage pearls, amber, or
even cameos. (To test it I dropped one of each plus an opal and a
Paraiba tourmaline in a jar of the straight cleaner for 11 months, to
I discovered it accidently one Christmas season when I ran out of
the fancy store-bought Ultrasonic Cleaner and didn’t have time to run
out to the store and so experimented with whatever was on hand.
I’ll never use anything else again!
Hi, Other people have made good suggestions. One more thing to check is
the PH, which should be neutral. (use a strip from a pharmacy or pet
store) do not leave in over-long, nor too hot.
One of my books claims that silver should be left in the ultrasonic
no more than 15 seconds. Longer and it becomes an electro stripping
process and removes high spots. 30 seconds for gold. I have found
boiling water to cause problems for silver but not gold. No matter
how clean I think I got something, a few seconds in the ultrasonic
Being self taught I have no proof of any of this and would take a
while to find which book has this to give due credit.
One of my books claims that silver should be left in the
ultrasonic no more than 15 seconds. Longer and it becomes an
electro stripping process and removes high spots.
It sounds like you’re confusing the instructions for an ionic
cleaner. There’s no way an ultrasonic is going to turn into an
I remember vividly getting ready for a Craft show in Fernandina
Beach, Florida (back in the day). My shop was built into a camper.
Early, the first morning, I mixed up a fresh batch of solution and
put all the inventory into the ultrasonic. It all turned completely
black in seconds, and I had to re-polish every item. Turned out that
there was a paper mill up the river and the sulphur content of the
fresh water I used was just like trying to clean my goods with a
dilute solution of liver of sulfur.