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Is worn silverware a Health Hazard

Q. Marc Banks, we have some worn silverplate flatware that is between 70 and 100 years old. Would that qualify for "really old" silverplate which you suggest could be harmful? Also, why is really old silverplate a problem?

Shirley Tyler
- WA [fictitious location]
February 1, 2023

Ed. note: Marc is not likely to be reachable regarding his posting from 2005, but we'll try

↓ Closely related postings, oldest first ↓

Q. The silver plating on our flatware is showing signs of use ... Several places have been worn to the point of revealing a metal underneath, which looks yellowish (maybe bronze?). I read somewhere that fry baskets reveal some kind of harmful metal when the chrome plating wears thin. Do you suppose whatever metal is being revealed in our flatware poses a health hazard?

Howard W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Consulting - Springfield, Missouri

A. Hi Howard, I'm confident that the exposure of the "german silver/nickel silver/white bronze" base metal of silverware is harmless, based on myself and many friends eating off it for as long as I can remember, plus never seeing any epidemiologist or researcher make a point of it whereas they pursue so many other possibilities. But the usual nickel-silver base metal (which contains no silver and has a slightly yellow color) does have a "taste". Much of my own silverware has been that way most of my life and I just endure it rather than the effort and expense of getting it replated, but certainly it can be replated for better appearance and elimination of that metallic taste :-)

Sorry, I just don't know what you're referencing regarding chrome plated fry baskets and their underlying metal (maybe leaded steel?). If you could refer me to an article about those fry baskets, I'd appreciate it and readers could probably comment more responsively. Thanks.

Maslow's prediction that once safety is addressed we'd move up his pyramid isn't seeming to work; consumer products in America are so much safer today than when I was young, but people seem way more concerned rather than less :-)

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


? Ted, you haven't been nippin' off that jug of homemade hooch have ya?

Sheldon Taylor
Sheldon Taylor
supply chain electronics
Wake Forest, North Carolina

Hi, Sheldon. I often nip when I'm working late at night -- but Makers Mark, not homemade. I was obtuse: Maslow postulated that it isn't possible, for example, to enjoy a symphony with a pistol to your head; only after basic needs including safety are met can our attention move on to other things.

But with hundreds of postings here about what seems to be ever smaller health risks, I was thinking maybe it isn't possible to get beyond concern over safety needs after all :-)

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

thumbsdown Gee whiz, another pseudo intellectual. If you must... Maslow has nothing to do with it. Occam's Razor would be a more appropriate metaphor. Everyone in the house is a bit ill and we are eliminating possible causes one by one.

I daresay that even those who have achieved the peak of self-actualization... having been taken ill would have them look further back down the pyramid for the cause.

Howard W
- Springfield, Missouri, USA

A. A Howard, Have you asked a doctor if there is any way to test for a high level of trace metals in the blood stream? I can't imagine that enough material is coming off of the utensils to cause a problem but having a doctor check for it specifically might be able to put the issue to rest. Hope you and the family get to feeling better.

Sheldon Taylor
Sheldon Taylor
supply chain electronics
Wake Forest, North Carolina

A. A quick pH test will give you some insight as to the current status of your water supply; additionally I would suggest having your doctor look into the reasons you have been getting ill more frequently. Have you gotten any new pets? Switched diets? Is there a new industrial plant in town?

Think of things like that, plating coming off of your silverware isn't going to do any damage to you or your family unless it is REALLY old silverware.

Marc Banks
Blacksmith - Shiloh, North Carolina

heart sign  Very sorry that you and your family aren't feeling well, Howard! ... and point conceded :-(

It's just that 16 years experience running this forum has proven that readers almost never respond to abstract questions like your original one; as system operator I don't want the forum to degenerate into unanswered questions, and do what I can to keep a thread alive until someone responds -- including philosophizing :-)

Readers ignored your abstract proposition but are now trying to help after you noted that your family is ill -- that's why we constantly ask people to please post their actual personal situation rather than abstract questions. Feel better soon.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


It seems to me that my toenails are growing faster now that I have started using Premium gasoline. Is that because of the fumes coming from the raisins in the bottom of my toaster?

Daryl Spindler
Daryl Spindler, CEF
decorative nickel-chrome plating - Greenbrier, Tennessee

! Daryl - Yes.

I am shocked, SHOCKED, to hear that you - as a consultant - aren't aware of the dangers of raisin infested toasters.

Jim Gorsich
Compton, CA

:-) Excuse my saying so, but all this a little like little children making a mountain out of a mole hill -- more so Americans who remain children till they are 75 at least.

Maslow has nothing to do with an obsession that has no base. A typical example is the California standard for metal food containers (Prop 65) for lead leaching to be less than 0.1% (dipped in 4% acetic acid [affil link on Ebay & Amazon] for 24 hours). It is just ignorance that motivates such standards.

As per the reasoning behind this standard, all Europeans would die of lead poisoning if their food was served from Silverware!
In reality 10 ppm of lead leaching would give someone a headache if they used the same container for 1000 years. Yet this American obsession of making mountains out of molehills even for irrelevant issues.
More than Maslow, it is Mcgreggors theory of Hygiene /motivation that would apply here.
But then out of anything ridiculous great things can occasionally come out -- inventions and research and so on. Let's hope this happens now and solutions are found to tarnishing problems for silverware.

deepak whorra
Deepak Whorra
silver craftwork - New Delhi, India

thumbs up sign Heads up, Deepak! Criticizing a country often leads to fireworks :-)
But I agree that California Prop 65 is a terribly expensive way to do far more harm than good; the legislators apparently never read Chicken Little :-)

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

thumbs up sign Heyyyy Ted,

A little bit of fun and knowing that the little American children have the best sense of humour is what made me write that.

But humour aside, if there is a situation of illness in the family, then all reasons must be looked into and so the question of a bare substrate does have relevance. But more appropriate, it is a bad water source - either municipal or pipelines being rusted or contamination.
Being a Silversmith (survived for generations in this business too), I am quite confident that the silverware is not responsible.
Incidentally my family has sold to royalty very often- - both European and Indian Maharajas.

deepak whorra
Deepak Whorra
silver craftwork - New Delhi, India

Q. I am Rinku Choudhary from India. I have started a silver smith business. Skilled labourers help me in it. I want to start silver plated dinnerware business. How can I make sure that the plating that I do on brassware is of long lasting durable quality ? I want to do food-safe silver plating on spoons and plates which will not fade after long continuous usage.
Please guide.

Rinku choudhary
- Kolkata West Bengal India
January 15, 2022

January 2022

A. Hi Rinku. Silver plated flatware is usually made from nickel silver/german silver/white bronze rather than brass. I'm not sure of all the reasons, but it's strong and it doesn't look much different than silver, so, as the plating gets thin you don't see a terrible contrast.

Silver plating, once well rinsed, is certainly food-safe. The life of the plating is essentially directly proportional to its thickness.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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