So I was at work bored one day and cleaning off my desk with some
Clorox brand Disinfecting Wipes. I noticed they also took off the
tarnish on my ring, and soon after the tarnish on my necklace.
The active ingredents are as follows...
-N-Alkyl (c14, 60%; C16, 30%; C12, 5%; C18, 5%)
-Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride.145%
-n-Alkyl (C12, 68%; C14, 32%) Dimethyl Ethylbenzyl Ammonium
What you have here is called a quaternary ammonium salt. In
university microbiology lab we were required to disinfect our lab
benches with such salts before and after each class. I am assuming
that you began to be concerned about the reaction with silver after
reading the thread about hypochlorite bleach acting on gold. The
salts you described are not the same as Clorox bleach. They do
contain chlorine atoms but I know of no reason to be concerned about
the chlorine acting on silver.
Gold is directly under silver on the periodic chart which means that
they share many similar properties. However, reaction with chlorine
is not one of them. It is difficult to find anything that will
dissolve gold, but it will dissolve with chlorine with a bit of
coaxing. Aqua Regia provides the method of coaxing…the sulfuric
acid component coaxes the gold into giving up electrons so that it
can become gold chloride. The chloride is donated by the hydrochloric
acid component. The gold chloride is soluble in water, hence Aqua
Regia dissolves gold.
Silver on the other hand, does not dissolve as a chloride. The
solubility rule in college general chemistry is that there are only
three insoluble chlorides: Chlorides of mercury, lead, and silver.
Table salt, aka sodium chloride, is used in a silver tarnish removal
formula (Page 357 Theory and Practice of Goldsmithing by Professor
Dr. Erhard Brepohl) Ammonia is commonly used as a cleaning solution
The “N alkyl” refers to what can most easily be described as a
reaction of petroleum distillates with ammonia. (Page 322 Organic
Chemistry A Short Course Seventh Edition by Harold Hart) The “N”
means that the carbon atoms in the petroleum distillates are arranged
in straight chains rather than branches or rings. The benzyl refers
to six carbon ring.
Again, I see no reason to be concerned about the disinfectant wipes.
(This is based on a guess that the 99.7% “Other” ingredients consist
of water to keep the wipes moist and whatever fiber the wipes are