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Replating silverware at home

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Q. Hi, there. My wife has a large number of old silver-plated forks, knives, and spoons. Most of them have a lot of wear and tear, and need to be replated. Local shops here quote about $15 per piece to replate them, which is way beyond my budget.

Is there a practical way to replate them with silver at home? Here's some background information to give you that warm, fuzzy feeling that I won't kill myself with chemicals: Ph.D. in Oceanography, ran a transmission electron microscope lab and darkroom with metal vaporization systems, osmium baths for specimens, etc. I'm a really careful guy, and I do have access to DC power supplies (now working in Silicon Valley), but I don't know what the right chemical bath might be for a lasting, bright finish. Any suggestions or pointers would be helpful. Thanks. --

George Lewbel

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A. Dear Mr. Lewbel I just returned from my sister's house and watched her use a product that she ordered from a catalog. She was trying it out on several silver items which were really a mess. Some of them had failed to polish, were black and dull looking.

She found that the item she was using not only made the silver look wonderful, it appeared to replate the areas that were blackened, or where the silver was rubbed off with brass showing through. I have not called them yet, but I thought that you might be interested in doing so.

Sandra Sachs
- Baltimore, Maryland

Electroless Liquid Silver Plating Solution


A. Thanks, Sandra! Although those products are not electroplating, and have two serious limitations, they do deposit a very thin coating of silver on the item, and some people seem well satisfied with it. The limitations arise because they are an immersion deposit, i.e., the electrochemical voltage difference between the copper/brass and the silver powers the reaction. So, those solutions will not work with aluminum, steel, or stainless steel; second, as soon as there is a really thin plating on the item, no more copper/brass is exposed, so the reaction stops. Real electroplating can build a much thicker plating. Although this may not offer the "lasting bright finish" that Dr. Lewbel seeks, it may be "good enough" considering the alternatives.

We've now added an FAQ, "Silver Plating at Home" which compares this approach with real electroplating, and sources those resilvering products -- which also include Jax Silver Plating Solution, Miracle Silver, Nu Silver, Quickshine, Silveron, Silver Plating Formula, Silver Secret, and The Silver Solution.

Dr. Lewbel: non-cyanide silver plating solutions are available from vendors such as the site's supporting advertisers EPI and Zinex. If you wish to try to formulate a silver plating bath, you will be limited to cyanide-based silver plating, as has been the standard for a hundred years. With your background you will recognize its extreme toxicity. Hopefully, less experienced readers won't try it. But you'll find a table with all the ingredients and operating conditions =>
in the "Electroplating Engineering Handbook" [link is to product info at Amazon] as Table 21. It is best to do a silver strike before the silver plating, and you'll find the info for that one in Table 20. Good luck!

1432
pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey

+++++++

A. Back in the 1980's I demonstrated a product called Silver Solution and Silver Maintenance Solution at The Bon dept. store. I even brought my own silver to demonstrate on, as well as asking people for their pennies. The product was made by Sheffield, a well known name in the world of Silver. Some years later when my bottles were empty I couldn't find it at all. Finally in 2005 I found a contact. It was the old product and I was delighted. It is not cheap, but the more you buy the less the cost. It would be nice to find someone in the states who carries it, and see if the price would be less. If anyone finds a local server, please let me know.

Chellis S. Swenson
- Tacoma, Washington


April 18, 2008

Thanks, Chellis. This letter is but one of a dozen on the same subject, and it was proving impossible to maintain working links for the ever-shifting URLs scattered across our pages. So we are now maintaining links for that product and a bunch of competitive products on our "Silver Plating at home" page. Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey

Jax Silver Plating Solution



July 20, 2008

Q. Hi, just found your page - very good, now bookmarked!
I have been using SILVERON, bought years ago at some fair or other... It seems to work well on moderately tarnished silver - tarnish just disappears with light wiping on. I have used it instead of abrasive metal polishes as I hate the idea of removing even more silver. But it does not plate onto areas that have worn through to the base metal (perhaps the base metal of my sugar bowls is electrochemically wrong!)
Anyway, I need a replacement bottle of this stuff or something equally good or better, but it has to be available in Canada (due to exorbitant customs fees.) I can no longer find SILVERON in Canada. Any ideas?
As an EE with a lot of lab experience I'd much rather set up a small tank and DC source to replate items properly but there seems to be some hysteria about the chemicals. Up here you can't get them outside of industry, also pharmacies no longer sell any loose chemicals (I am retired from the electronics industry now, so no contacts.) Is it really true that no common chemicals even partially substitute as an electrolyte? I'm not trying to make fat 9999-fine Ag cathodes, rather get just a few tenths of a thou replated on bare spots. I have some 9999-fine silver bars for anodes.

Cheers,
Roger
near Toronto, Canada.

Roger Jones, P.Eng, SMIEEE
Engineering consultant - Thornhill, Ontario, Canada


July 2008

A. Hi, Roger. Thanks for the kind words. As noted, we didn't put links to Silveron or a Canadian source of resilvering solutions on this particular page; rather, those links are on our Silver Plating at Home FAQ because it's possible to maintain the links in one place but impossible if we retrogress to scattering them across over 50,000 threads.

As for the suggestion against electroplating yourself, it's not quite hysteria. Decorative Silver plating, as opposed to many other kinds of plating, is still done out of a cyanide-based bath. You will probably find cyanide impossible to get because it is an extremely powerful, instantaneous acting poison if even a very small amount is accidentally ingested. And if you accidentally acidify it, which is very easy, you've built yourself California's gas chamber. There are a few commercially available non-cyanide silver plating baths, but they were intended for electronics, and even their proud sellers are quick to note that the color is somewhat off ... but a color which is not quite right for Tiffany to market might be okay for personal use since people will naturally be more forgiving of their own efforts than on something they bought.

You could also perhaps try copper plating your item and then use Silveron or similar.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey

CLEAN EARTH PLATING SOLUTIONS SILVER



May 14, 2011

Q. Hi,

I have some Baroque by Godinger flatware that has pitted and do not want to spend a fortune on replating it. Would this product work?

Ann Narby
homemaker with silverware - Netcong, New Jersey, USA

May 18, 2011

A. Hi, Ann.

Plating does not repair pits, and the immersion plating solutions being discussed here will only deposit a few millionths of an inch thickness. Pits are much bigger than that. I don't think it will offer much help, but you could try it.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


January 19, 2013

Q. Hi Guys, I am looking for the formula for brush silver plating solutions. I have been in the plating industry for over 50 years, and have access to cyanides and the like.
Can you help ?
Cheers,
Ken Osborne.

KEN OSBORNE
- AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND


January 22, 2013

A. Hi Ken. Sorry, I'm not personally aware of any published generic formulation for brush silver plating solutions. The formula for cyanide-based tank plating solution is in every plating textbook, and I'm confident that you'll want to make it up more concentrated, and perhaps with a thixotropic agent like fumed silica or barium sulphate, but I don't know specific details, and don't think anyone is publishing it.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey



January 26, 2013

Q. Hi Ted
I just found your site as a result of trying to find where to buy "The Silver Solution" by Sheffield Plate & Polish Co. Ltd. I purchased this kit over 25 years ago when I wanted to touch up a plated silver ice bucket. First I ran a test on pennies to be sure I wouldn't destroy the ice bucket. It all worked out very well. As a result of plating the pennies I decided to make several lamps out of liquor bottles and fill them with shiny pennies with several plated ones as a conversation piece. Worked well and had lots of fun with the projects. I am now trying to make another lamp with several plated pennies in it but when I opened the bottle in the kit (after 25 years) the solution had turned into a mass of glop. Any suggestions as to where I might find the product or a better or equal product. By the way I am familiar with Brick NJ as I "still" have a summer home in Mantoloking.
Thanks...Pete

Pete Ehrgood
- Sinking Spring Pennsylvania


January 26, 2013

A. Hi Pete. Mantoloking was badly hit by Sandy (as were the lagoon areas of Toms River where my house was destroyed). So I hope you still have a summer home.

We have a dozen or more threads about "The Silver Solution" and similar products, so instead of trying to maintain ever-changing sourcing info on a dozen pages, we moved all sourcing info to our FAQ on Resilvering at Home. Best of luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


January 30, 2013

thumbsup2Hi Ted,
Thanks for your quick reply. I have ordered a bottle of the Silver Solution from H S WALSH & SONS LIMITED at hswalsh.com. It may take a while to get here from over the pond but it is good to know that the product is still available.
Thanks
Pete

Pete Ehrgood
- Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania, USA

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