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topic 11794

Removing Silver Tarnish

Kids Guide to Research


Hey ... well I'm doing a Science Project on removing silver tarnish. But one problem is that I need DATA to come with the Science Project. I did sort of get DATA but I don't know how to measure it. See, what I'm going to do is have 3 different materials, silver, iron, and aluminum, and for each trial there will be an amount of salt put into the solution. Like the first trial will have 1 tbs of salt, the second trial will have 2 tbs of salt, and the third trial will have 3 tbs of salt. (I'm testing which material is most chemically active and which material is more active with different tbs of salt.) So you see I have no one else to ask so I come to you. Please respond soon, if you don't I'm dead for my Science Final Outline! Thanks! Bye......

Sophia C
- Bayside, New York


I didn't exactly follow your syllogism of why you were dead if we didn't help you, Sophia; somewhere around the "so you see" there seemed to be a gap in the logic flow :-)

Depending on how big your beaker is, I think that using 1 tablespoon of salt vs. 2 vs. 3 might not prove much. Sort of like feeding a lab rat 1 pound of vitamin C vs. 2 pounds vs. 3 pounds to see which is better for him. You might try no salt vs. 1 tablespoon of salt vs. 1 tablespoon of salt plus 1 tablespoon of vinegar, or something like that.

Other than the problem of testing megadoses of salt vs. mega-megadoses your experiment sounds okay.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Pop Bottle Science


Hi. I'm in 6th grade and I have a science project. My question is about different materials and which are the best for removing silver tarnish. I wanted to use commercial products, baking soda [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] and hot water..., and maybe salt verses no salt or 1 tblsp salt verses 1 tblsp vinegar. I'm not sure what to do for the 3rd choice (vinegar, salt). Do you think that I should stick with that? I want to stick with the commercial products and the baking soda I think but I'm not sure for the 3rd idea. Can you help me? I think this will be a fun project and I like science and just need a bit of advice to push me along.

Nicole Leila S.
student - Encintas, California, United States


I suggest for the third test you put a piece of aluminum foil on the bottom of your glass or plastic cleaning dish, with the silver item touching the aluminum. Good luck.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


I saw what you said about the aluminum but I'm a little confused because that is pretty much what I'm doing with baking soda and hot water. I lining it with aluminum... could you explain a little more? I am not sure what you're saying.

Nicole S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Encinitas, California, US


If you are lining the container with aluminum, then there is a special reaction between aluminum and silver which is providing the tarnish removal power. It's no longer a contest of whether salt, vinegar, or baking soda is a better tarnish remover. See letter 4785 for an explanation of electrolytically cleaning silver by placing it on aluminum foil.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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