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Tarnish remover use aluminium foil


#1

G’day.

There is no secret in this process of tarnish removal. The tarnish on
silver items is nearly always due to sulphur combining with the
surface of the silver, whether from atmosphere, body oils, or
patinating compounds like the polysulphides.

Aluminium foil is attacked by alkalies, like sodium carbonate or
bicarbonate, with the result that pure ‘nascent’ hydrogen gas is
given off. Normally hydrogen nearly always goes around intimately
associated with another hydrogen atom, and is written H2. But when
freshly prepared by this reaction, the hydrogen is just single atoms,
though it quickly pairs with another H atom. So the fresh highly
reactive hydrogen reacts with the sulphide molecule of the tarnish to
produce minute quantities of hydrogen sulphide gas, which bubbles
off, leaving pure silver. Thus the surface will look slightly rough,
but can easily be burnished to a bright finish. You will see that no
silver is removed in this treatment.

Cheers for now,
John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua, Nelson NZ


#2

Hi, John,

Merry Christmas!

Your reply about the “fresh” hydrogen gas made me wonder-- why do
the hydrogen atoms hook up with the sulphides instead of just
pairing with their mates (other naked hydrogen atoms)?

Also, Jim said sodium carbonate bubbled more than bicarb did. Is
more hydrogen liberated from the carb than the bicarb, making it
more effective?

–Noel (who used to kinda understand chemistry, an awful long time
ago, and is still curious)


#3

When you use the baking soda / washing soda and Aluminum foil
tarnish removing method, are there any limitations on the jewelry
that can be cleaned this way? For example, will pearls be damaged by
the chemical action? I suppose most gemstones would be OK? Feathers,
not.

Ivy Fasko
Contemporary Handcrafted Jewelry
http://www.ivysfasko.com


#4

G’day;

The monatomic hydrogen does join up with neighbours all the time, but
the H-H bond is fairly weak, and the S-H bond is relatively stronger;
thus the preference. But do understand that we are talking in the
hundreds of millions here, and there are plenty of unbonded H atoms
ready to link up with ‘anybody’ But we are also talking in
micro/nano seconds too. This ‘bonding’ business is concerned with
electronic attractions, and the fact that the electronic fields are
similar in sign does not mean there is no attraction of one to the
other; it is just a question of how much. Atoms are whizzing around
all the time, their speeds and energy depending on their temperature.
The faster the ‘whizzing’ the greater is the opportunity for the
electronic attractions to come into play. Thus on warming, reacting
molecules increase their speed of reaction. At temperatures close to
absolute zero (-273C) there is virtually very little movement and the
possibility of reactions occurring are more remote. Everything
depends on probability; thus the comment by some learned fellow, (I
think it must have been our old mate Albert) “Does God play dice with
the universe”?

Sodium carbonate will release it’s hydrogen atoms more easily that
those of the bicarbonate molecule, and is more aggressively alkaline
and reactive. So here endeth the lesson.

May I wish you a happy and peaceful Noel?

Cheers for now,
John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua, Nelson NZ


#5

Thank you John,

I don’t even try to speak Chemistry and your explanation makes
sense. Bubbles of hydrogen sulphide gas! Accounts for the odor too.
Hope you are getting on well with the scooter. Always good to hear
from your experience and wisdom,

Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 147 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506


#6

Ivy,

When you use the baking soda / washing soda and Aluminum foil
tarnish removing method, are there any limitations on the jewelry
that can be cleaned this way? For example, will pearls be damaged
by the chemical action? I suppose most gemstones would be OK?
Feathers, not. 

The chemists and more experienced among us will no doubt have more
info on things like pearls… but I don’t recommend using it for
anything that’s really “soft” (like amber, opals, woods), permeable
(sculpey, bone, fabrics) or heat-sensitive (heat-treated stones,
topaz).

I may be over-cautious in that, but wouldn’t want a customer telling
me that my advice had ruined a favorite piece!

Karen


#7

G’day; this is a part repeat of my previous message which contained a
misleading comment Here is the corrected item; (Thank you Jesse.)

/There is no secret in this process of tarnish removal. The tarnish
on silver items is nearly always due to sulphur combining with the
surface of the silver, whether from atmosphere, body oils, or
patinating compounds like the polysulphides.

Aluminium foil is attacked by alkalies, like sodium carbonate or
bicarbonate, with the result that pure ‘nascent’ hydrogen gas is
given off./ From the water solution./ Normally hydrogen nearly
always goes around intimately associated with another hydrogen atom,
and is written H2. But when freshly prepared by this reaction, the
hydrogen is just single atoms, though it quickly pairs with another H
atom. So the fresh highly reactive hydrogen r reacts with the
sulphide molecule of the tarnish to produce minute quantities of
hydrogen sulphide gas, which bubbles off, leaving pure silver. Thus
the surface will look slightly rough, but can easily be burnished to
a bright finish. You will see that no silver is removed in this
treatment.

  • */Sodium carbonate is more reactive than the bicarbonate and the
    aluminium/alkali reaction will proceed more rapidly if the carbonate
    is used.

. So here endeth the lesson.

Cheers for now,
John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua, Nelson NZ


#8
The chemists and more experienced among us will no doubt have more
info on things like pearls... but I don't recommend using it for
anything that's really "soft" (like amber, opals, woods),
permeable (sculpey, bone, fabrics) or heat-sensitive (heat-treated
stones, topaz).

Retail store experience… we use the aluminum foil, Calgon,
salt, solution for cleaning sterling silver with every type of stone
you can think of with absolutely not one piece suffering any
detectable damage. Hundreds of customers have been given the recipe
and no reports of damage over the years. If an object can be put in
water with no damage, this solution would not damage anything I can
think of.

We have cleaned: turquoise, lapis, sponge coral, malachite,
prehnite, opal, peridot, synthetics, garnet, carved bone, diamond,
ruby, sapphire, ruby in fushite, ruby in zoisite, iolite, any quartz,
any agate, any kind of pearl, tourmaline, costume jewelry, amber.

And we do not soak anything, just dip and rinse and dry… and
tarnish gone unless it is so tarnished that it is black and then it
needs to be buffed.

Richard Hart


#9

Hello Richard,

Sorry if I missed the recipe on an earlier posting, can you list it
once again or for the first time?? i.e foil, calgone etc…

Thanks very much and happy new year to everyone,
Laurie


#10

Hi Mr Hart:

Retail store experience...... we use the aluminum foil, Calgon,
salt, solution for cleaning sterling silver with every type of
stone you can think of with absolutely not one piece suffering any
detectable damage. Hundreds of customers have been given the
recipe and no reports of damage over the years. If an object can be
put in water with no damage, this solution would not damage
anything I can think of. 

I have been making an earring from weaving together tiny (very tiny)
sterling silver beads on nylon or silk beading thread. The earrings
are very nice (if I can be so bold) but, I have had no way to clean
them if they get tarnished.

Would your method possibly work in my situation? If you were
cleaning a clasp on a strand of pearls in this way, would it damage
the silk the pearls are knotted on or do you just avoid getting the
silk wet?( I know you said in the above post that it doesn’t damage
anything that you can think of, but I just wanted to double check. I
can be annoying in that way). If it is not a trade secret, would you
be willing to share the ratio of the ingredients in the solution?

Thank you and I always look forward to reading your posts. I have
learned a lot from them.

Best Regards,
Kim Starbard
Cove Beads


#11

Kimberly and All,

Would your method possibly work in my situation? If you were
cleaning a clasp on a strand of pearls in this way, would it
damage the silk the pearls are knotted on or do you just avoid
getting the silk wet.

The recipe is one tbsp Calgon water softener, powder or liquid, one
tbsp salt, two cups water in a glass or plastic container. Do not
use Calgon product that has oil in it. We use cold water. Put the
aluminum foil on the bottom of the container, put the tarnished item
on the foil, remove, rinse, and dry. Do not leave the foil in the
solution, as the foil will disintigrate over a day or two. As far as
silk and pearls, it has not done harm to any pearl or gem materials
that have been strung. Do not let it soak, just in and out… My wife,
from experience over the years, does not use silk as it stretches too
much. Wet silk would probably stretch easier, so if it is real silk,
lay them flat to dry.

Richard Hart


#12

Kimberly and group,

Richard is correct, wet silk stretches terribly. I ran into that
problem with a zillion 2mm beads strung on multiple strands and a
gigantic pendant. Even random knots didn’t save the situation. The
whole piece got longer and longer the more I tried to clean the clasp
and pendant. But after many tears, and deep breathing exercises, I
got my trusty hair drier, laid the piece on a towel, and blew a
gentle warm flow of air back and forth and voila, the silk shrunk back
to normal. I would recommend this in an emergency, but as Richard
advised, avoid getting the silk wet. A polishing cloth, albeit not
fun, is the best bet.

Happy New and Prosperous Year to All!
Karen