Sterling silver jewelry is beautiful. It can also be kinda yucky when tarnish sets in, as it will eventually.
Some people like the dark patina. In fact you can actually use certain chemicals to speed up the tarnish.
But what if you want that shiny look?
You can buy special polishing cloths that do a pretty good job of bringing back the sparkle — but if you’re dealing with something small, like ear wires, those cloths don’t work quite as well.
I needed to clean up several pairs of heavily tarnished ear wires. I looked online for answers and found one that used tinfoil and baking soda.
It sounded weird but several people swore it worked. I gave it a try.
- In a heat-proof bowl (I used glass), place a piece of tinfoil.
(One recipe said to crinkle it in the bottom. Another said place it flat. I tried it both ways.)
- Place the ear wires on the tinfoil.
- Sprinkle them with 1 or 2 teaspoons of baking soda.
(I used enough to cover the pieces with a bit to spare.)
- Gently pour in boiling water, enough to cover the ear wires and tinfoil.
- Wait 5 or 6 minutes — water the plants, play with your dog or make a cuppa.
- Rinse the wires in cool clean water. Dry.
You know the saying: When something seems to good to be true, it usually is.
Not this time.
This stuff works. Really. This little chemistry lesson in a bowl gave me back a pair of shiny ear wires. Wow.
As for using crinkled or flat tinfoil, I couldn’t see the difference. Wait time? You can see the reaction take place so when things are shiny, take them out. Lightly tarnished pieces will be ready sooner than ones with a heavy layer.
Magic aside, I wanted to know why this worked. If you’re curious about the answer check out this explanation.
Spoiler Alert: If you have sterling silver jewelry with gemstones, pearls or beads you’ll need to do further research before trying this technique.