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topic 1178A

How to tarnish silver

A discussion started in 1998 & continuing through 2017


Q. I'm a complete amateur with a small and hopefully simple question. I have used fine silver wire to make a pendant for an earring. How can I dull the finish of the wire? It is far too shiny when compared with the stainless steel of the ring.


Michael B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]


A. Boil an egg, remove the yolk and break it into several pieces. Put that and the silver into a zip lock bag and close. It should be black in the morning.

Careful polishing will give you nearly any shade of grey.
The cat or the dog will appreciate the leftovers.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


thumbsup2Dear James,

I never heard of a yummy recipe like that in plating before!

Mandar Sunthankar
- Fort Collins, Colorado


It is simple, cheap, available, and it works.

The alternative is trying to buy 10 ml of Liver of Sulphur [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], which most old processes call it. Most any polysulfide will do with a little ammonia. Arsenic will also work.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

sidebar2 (1998)

Q. Where could I purchase liver of sulfur? thanks alan

alan smolen

Ed. note: You can get Liver of Sulphur from this link, Alan. It's a bit noxious and can be toxic, so follow directions.


A. I was hand-washing my whites in a mixture of equal parts water and extra-strength bleach. Two of my three silver rings turned completely grey. It's not guaranteed, but certainly worth a shot. Hope this helps.

Kelly P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Hershey, Pennsylvania



WAYNE S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]


A. This way really works. It took me ages to figure out. It gives a uniform tarnish. It works well even if the quantities are not exact, just be careful not to over-tarnish your pieces.

Tarnish Silver for four silver goblets:

- Weigh out approximately 11 g Sulfur [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] powder.
- Measure out 1 liter of vegetable oil using a measuring cylinder.
- Boil a kettle full of water.
- Stir the sulphur and oil in beaker or jug until the sulphur dissolves as much as it can pour 250 ml of the mixture into each of four beakers (or jugs) pour 500 ml of boiling water into a beaker.
- Pour 500 ml of boiling water and some washing liquid into a beaker dip a goblet in the first beaker with sulphur and oil in it for 1 minute, swirling the goblet
- Dip the same goblet into a beaker with the washing up water in it and swirl for 30 seconds
- Dip the same goblet into the beaker with the clean boiling water in it for 1 min (approx.), swirling it all the time.

The color should come up gradually- it will change color even after you take it out; repeat with remaining goblets.

Rachel N [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Australia

February 18, 2009

Q. How do I tarnish silver -- follow up question:

I would like to lay silver leaf and selectively tarnish areas of the completed piece.

Is there a resist that would protect the areas that I don't want tarnished?

Would wax work? (It should be easy to brush apply a melted wax.)

Once the piece is removed from the sulfur source, will the silver retain any of the sulfur and so keep on tarnishing (which would make variations in tone difficult)?

Thank you for any information or suggestions that you can offer.

Very respectfully,

Larry Root
- Vienna, Virginia

January 24, 2012

A. Please be sure NOT TO BOIL WATER when using Liver of Sulfur. If you do, it can produce a gas that is poisonous. Also do not use a torch with that product.

Dharlee Minter
- Roanoke, Virginia, USA

June 19, 2017

Q. Accelerating Tarnish and Aging Silver

I would like to intentionally tarnish silver plating, quickly and at a low budget.

(End game is to document how much silver is removed from a commercial tarnish removing dip.)

Best method I have so far is submerged in virgin paper or cardboard, possibly with some cheap adhesive stickers or glue, add moisture and heat.

John LaCasse
Parts, Materials & Process... Space Electronics - East Syracuse, New York

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