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topic 34314

Electrolytic cleaning plates for silver: Q&A

A discussion started in 2003 & continuing through 2017


RFQ: I would like to buy 2 sets of qwicksilver plates to clean the silverware.

Thank you,

Judy Okina
- Tokyo, Japan
outdated RFQ


RFQ: Where in the UK can I buy an Electrolytic plate to clean silver?

Maureen Moore
- Larbert, Scotland, UK
outdated RFQ

Electrolytic Cleaning Plate


A. Hi, Maureen. Some say that every store that sells aluminum foil is automatically selling 'electrolytic plates' because it's the aluminum that is the 'secret'.

For more about electrolytic cleaning of silver, including commercial sources for electrolytic plates, please see letters: 4785 and 14623

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

August 1, 2008

A. You can buy a plate from metalbrite. We will ship to UK.

Sue Rosendall
- Venus, Florida

Do electrolytic cleaning plates dull the surface of silver?


Q. I used an electrolytic cleaning plate to clean silver for the first time last night and was amazed at the results. However I was disappointed to read in a book today that they should be avoided as they "dull the finish and may remove antique shading". Has anyone experienced these or other problems?

Rachel Boehmer
Hobbyist - Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


A. The "amazing results" you achieved last night will be repeated every time you use your plate over the years ahead. Of course the plate will remove antique shading, this is merely induced oxidation for decorative effect.
Your plate will remove ALL oxidation (tarnish) which is why you were "amazed" at the results. You didn't find the plate "dulled the finish" did you? I would suspect any other information you read in this book.

Brian Morris
Qwicksilver International - Douglas, I.O.M. U.K.


Q. Following on from the silver cleaning question, I have several pieces of tableware made from BENGAL SILVER and ALBION SILVER. They are about 100 years old, I would estimate, and believe them to be an alloy of copper, tin, nickel and ? or what?

My question is: apart from using Brasso, which is a time-consuming and smelly operation, what can I use to clean the pieces? Could the electrolytic method work even though there may be no silver in them. (My education stopped at general science and I have no chemistry!)

I would be grateful for any help on this.

Jackie Clark
- Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dri-Pak Soda Crystals

Ultrasonic Silver Cleaning Kit


A. No harm in asking, Jackie, but it should take almost no time to try it instead of guessing. Microwave some water to almost boiling, lay a sheet of aluminum foil in a non metal sink or dishpan, lay a piece of flat ware on it, sprinkle it heavily with activator =>
or baking soda [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], washing soda [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], spic & span, or water softener (whichever you have), and pour the almost boiling water on it.

You'll see for yourself in seconds whether the results are what you want. Good luck!

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

October 26, 2008

A. I recently did put the money out for the electrolytic plate at a home show. I wish I had read this information sooner. In the demonstration the tarnished spoon became shiny immediately in the clear solution. I was rather distraught when I tried it at home and did not get the immediate results. Upon more trials I realized the solution is not clear and the shininess does not come until you wipe it with the "luster cloth," the cloth removed the tarnish after soaking. Now my objects are brilliant.

Rosemary Watson
- Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

September 13, 2010

Q. I inherited my great grandmothers antique silver (what other alloys, I don't know) tea and coffee set. I have tried to no-avail to get them clean. While the patina is slightly beautiful, I would like to restore the set to its beauty. I have tried a silver polish and while it does a great job on the flatter services, its difficult to get into the intricate designs on the set. I am leery of using a chemical to clean the silver because I don't want to destroy the items I have grown to love. I have tried multiple home remedies (baking soda, foil, salt, dishwashing powder, etc.) and none of them seem to do the job. I am interested in the plates, but wonder if they work, or will do damage. Please help! I am looking forward to enjoying the beauty of my great grandmother's treasures, and keep my wrists from hurting!

Ashley Batchelder
Antique Lover - Denver, Colorado

September 3, 2010

A. Hi, Ashley

Electrolytically cleaning the silver with a cleaning plate or aluminum foil will remove any patina, but will not harm the silver.


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

November 11, 2010

Q. Can you use an electrolytic cleaning system for silver in a stainless steel sink? It doesn't say anywhere on the instructions, but think I remember being told this.
thanks for answering.

Kathleen Workman
- Owasso, Oklahoma, USA

November 11, 2010

A. Hi, Kathleen. On letter 14623, William from Holland Pennsylvania implies that he has been doing this successfully. But I think a plastic dishpan in the sink is a better idea.


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


Q. Dear Sirs,

I would like to know where I can purchase the qwicksilver activator, I have the qwicksilver plate.

Thank you,

Judy K [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Silverton, Colorado, US

Ed. note: You can get Qwicksilver Activator from this link at Hammacher Schlemmer, Judy.

Sodium carbonate for silver cleaning plate


Q. I have a Quicksilver plate purchased in England. Directions say it is to be used with Household Soda Crystals (Sodium Carbonate). What is that in American English? I have baking soda, but I always thought that was Sodium Bicarbonate. Can anyone help?

Lee Berkley
- Allentown, Pennsylvania


A. One of the common names for sodium carbonate is washing soda.

lee gearhart
Lee Gearhart


A. Try washing soda. Sodium carbonate is NaCO3.xH2O, where x is a number over 8!

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK


A. Hi, Lee. In American English:

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

September 29, 2014

Q. I bought a silver cleaning plate and haven't had great results. Does it matter if it's washing soda or baking soda? And is Arm & Hammer powder detergent the same thing? Thanks for your Help!

Martin Nichols
- dallas, Texas usa

September 2014

A. Hi Martin. You need an electrically conductive solution. I wouldn't know the exact ingredients in Arm & Hammer powder detergent but it probably has little if any washing soda or baking soda, and would thus be a poor choice. Baking soda has worked for me, but washing soda is stronger and some people say it works better.

The reaction requires that the silver be touching the aluminum for metallic contact, and that the solution be conductive. Beyond that, hot water will work better than warm or cool water.

If it simply doesn't work, your silver may have a lacquer coating on it.


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

October 15, 2014

Q. I tried the baking soda, Al and hot water. It seems to be working really well. I still have to figure out for how long do I have to leave in the hot water. I am using a glass dish (Pyrex) my spoons are not pure silver, they are made of an alloy and plated with silver,

Devina choudhury
- Venetia, Pennsylvania USA

December 1, 2017

Q. I have a large punch bowl. I used the plate. It said put salt on it. I rotated the bowl around the plate. It said I will need to do this several times. 2 questions. Can I immerse the punch bowl or do all the surfaces that need to be cleaned have to touch the plate? Also it said to clean pour vinegar on it and scrub with an abrasive pad. It must be shiny and clean. I scrubbed it, but I'm not sure if it is clean. I see darker spots, patches on the plate. I did not rinse the plate as the instructions just said pour vinegar and scrub. Please advise. Thank you.

leslie bacon
- Altus, Oklahoma USA

December 2017

A. Hi Leslie. You should lay the plate under the punch bowl, with the bowl fully submerged in a large plastic dishpan or a fiberglass or Corian sink (not a conductive metal sink). I can't countermand the instructions that came with the cleaning plate, but I'm sure you're supposed to rinse it. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
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