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topic 10406

Sulfur on silver/why turn black?



I'm doing a science project on why sulfur turns silver black. I live in a area where our tap water has a good amount of sulfur in it and every time we take a shower with silver necklaces, ring, bracelets, and earrings on it turns a goldish color then a shiny purple then a shiny black.

Can any one tell me why it does this?


Chris Meinhardt
- Crawfordville, Florida, United States


Silver is a fairly active metal. Sulfides are very reactive and especially with silver. The black is AgS or AG2S, both of which are black. The transition colors are probably a combination of silver oxide and silver sulfide.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


In the past two months my silver necklace it turning black. I have to dip it in a cleaner two or three times to remove the black. I have had to do it three times now and the silver looks dull. My partner has the same necklace and is not turning black. What could be in my body to cause this?

I hope you can answer my question and thanks in advance.

Peter Omelia
System Analyst - Valley Glen, California

December 11, 2010

Regarding the question as to why one necklace is turning black and roommates is not....perhaps you are using a dandruff shampoo and your partner is not? Dandruff shampoos contain sulfur to help combat the symptoms, and sulfur reacts to silver and turns it black. This is just a wild guess.....some healing creams and lotions also contain sulfur, which will turn silver rings and jewelry black. Google "sulfur and silver" for more info. Good luck.

lynn moosman
hobbyist - libertyville illinois usa

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