-- The Home Page of the Finishing Industry

on this site
current topics

60,000 Q&A topics -- Education, Aloha, & Fun

topic 4785p4

Polishing Silver with Aluminum Foil and Baking Soda

< Prev. page          (You're on the last page of the thread)

A discussion started in 2000 but continuing through 2020

January 19, 2010 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I inherited the FB Rogers Silver Co 1883 Butter Dish (273) that my grandmother thought was an ashtray and had in her collection. It is horribly tarnished and using a silver cloth on it is taking ALOT of work. What is the bet way to care for what I have recently learned is silver plate?!

Kimm Scott
collector - Orange, California

June 28, 2010

A. To the person that had the film left after this cleaning process. I did too. After removing my silver from the foil, salt, baking soda, and hot water mixture I rinse quickly in water and then swished the silver in a mixture of water and a little white vinegar. Then I rinsed again with water. Worked perfect to remove the tarnish and the residual film.

Karrie Stapleton
- Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

August 5, 2010

I just finished completely cleaning ALL our silverware (8 settings) is about 15 minutes. In a plastic tub, about 12" square and 5" deep, layered on the bottom with aluminum foil, I sprinkled 2 or 3 tablespoons of Washing Soda. Put about 1/3 of the silverware into the tub and followed with a kettle of boiling water. The silver became almost instantly clean! Fished it out and rinsed it, then dumped in the next third and again with the last third with same result The aluminum is higher on the electromotive scale and the silver sulfide (the tarnish) is converted back to pure silver. Unlike with manual polishing, no silver is lost!

Paul Collins
house husband - Burnsvllle, North Carolina

November 15, 2010

Thank you, Dale! I had several pairs of intricate silver earrings that had tarnished and would be very energy- and time-intensive to clean. I took a mixing bowl, poured boiling water then poured in baking soda, put in the foil and earrings and - voila It was like magic! Thank you for this fast, easy, non-toxic and fun way to clean silver! You ROCK!

Diane Rose
- Newton, Massachusetts, USA

January 18, 2011

Q. I just received an electrolytic cleaning plate as a gift and used it to clean several pieces of my collection. I have been interested in this technology for a long time, but only knew about the commercial plates that were being sold. (I didn't know that you could achieve the same results with household items, or I would have tried it long ago.)

My plate came with instructions to use near-boiling water and either WASHING SODA or Calgon Water Softener with the plate. I tried it on a small, silverplated lid to a trinket box. There was no visible change when the item came out of the solution, but as soon as I began polishing, the black turned to bright silver!

The next day, I went to work on several other matching pieces of serving dishes. All were silverplate. I could see the solution working on the first two pieces as they sat in the plastic tub. They came out sparkling. Then, on the third, as I watched, the dish silvered, but the handle turned black. I had no idea what had happened.

I tried Tarn-X on the handle. I tried cream silver polish. I tried liquid silver polish. Nothing worked. Then I got it. I looked closer at the other pieces. The problem was that the plating on the third piece was badly worn on the handle. That was why it had blackened on contact with the electrolytic solution.

I didn't see any posts on this subject on this thread, so I thought I'd share my story. I think this is a great way to clean silver & plate quickly, efficiently, & with less environmental impact. However, when working with plate, one should be sure that the plate is intact. Otherwise, you might be surprised (less happily) with the results!

Alisa Abrams
- Sacramento, California, USA

affil. link
(Pack of 4)

January 28, 2011

A. Alisa Have you tried dipping the dishes in a mixture of 50/50 vinegar to water?

Chris Warfel
- Waynesville, Ohio

March 2, 2011

A. Someone said you cannot buy powdered Spic 'n Span anymore. YOU CAN! Try your local hardware store. NOT a Big Box store, but a local old time hardware store like Ace or True Value, or independent. I buy it all the time at a neighborhood hardware store in my city.

Diane Ipsen
- Denver, Colorado, USA

April 27, 2011

This works well, but I did use more baking soda (approx. 1/4 cup) and as my silver pieces -- bowls, trays, etc. were quite tarnished, it required quite a bit longer than 'instant' removal; more of a bath or a soaking -- so just be patient! It does work.

Marilyn O'Connor
- Kingston, Ontario Canada

October 4, 2011

I had used White King's Water Softener for years and now it is impossible to find as I think Front Loading machines have put it out of business.

I had a beloved Silver and Sapphire ring that I wore in our Hot Tub - which uses Bromine. next thing I know, I've got Silver Bromide tarnish all over it pretty bad - totally DARK GREY and FOGGY. Note to self, take off rings before going in hot tub. Silver Bromide the stuff we used to make photo sensitive Black and white photo paper on...I digress.

So I was OVERJOYED when I found Ted's Article referencing #4785 saying I could use 1T Baking Soda + 1t Salt + Aluminum Foil (Which causes the reaction) and Hot and I used boiling water. AND I don't have to buy anything!

I put the foil over a soup bowl, added the baking soda, salt and 1 cup boiling water. Dropped my ring in and stirred it about with a wooden chopstick took it out after like 30 seconds, and much cleaner but not totally to my liking yet. left it in for 2 minutes, rinsed in boiling water and VOILA! Totally beautiful.
No harsh chemicals lol it's FOOD GRADE! Just pour it down the sink and all done.

Ted and YOU ROCK! Been looking for this solution for like 3 months now! I sooo missed my ring!

Hugs TED!


Stefanie Sellars
- Simi Valley, California

Thanks, Stefanie. Actually, the aluminum foil wasn't my idea (although it's my website). But I'll take any hugs I can get :-)   -- Ted

October 12, 2011

Hi, Everyone, my name is Patsy and I am a homemaker in North Carolina. I have read with great interest all the comments here and came the closest (I thought) to an answer to the puzzle of my silver-plated tea-and-coffee set. The set fell into disuse a number of years ago and got shifted from place to place, acquiring, in the process, a good build-up of tarnish. When I finally decided to tackle it this week, I got out the Wright's Silver polish and started on the teapot. The black came off, with much labor; but what was left was a shiny, smooth, brassy color. I thought I must have done something wrong and was afraid to try the other pieces, but I did, starting next on the coffee pot. It came out really nice and I was encouraged, though a little perplexed. Next I tried the sugar bowl, and it came out brassy, like the teapot! It was too late to turn back, so I set to work on the cream pot and it came out beautifully, just like the coffee pot! I was so hopeful when I found this wonderful forum and read all of your comments, and I tried the baking soda/boiling water/aluminum foil method on the brassy pieces. It didn't work, though I tried it more than once, adding some salt and a dryer sheet in later attempts, as that had been suggested, too. Does anyone have any idea why two of the pieces came out so well while the other two developed the brassy color? I looked a lot online to find someone who knew why the brass-looking finish came out on those two pieces, but haven't been able to turn up a thing. You all seemed more knowledgeable and hopeful to me than anywhere else I've looked, so I thought I would seek your help. Thanks for taking the time to look into my problem! I've really enjoyed reading the forum; in fact, I've read all of your responses twice!

Patsy Newsom
Hobbyist - Julian, North Carolina, USA

October 12, 2011

Hi, Patsy.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it sure sounds like your tea set is made of silver plated brass and the silver plating has worn off over the years. You can try a resilvering solution, see our FAQ: "Silver Plating at Home", but if this doesn't offer enough satisfaction you will have to send the set to a plating shop for replating.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

October 14, 2011

Ted, thanks for your answer and your help! I honestly feared as much; but as I am a rookie in the matter of silver cleaning I needed someone "in the know" to verify. You must be a mind-reader, too; my next thought would have been to ask if anyone knew about re-plating, and you gave me the article and the links for all the information I needed. I've read it and find it very helpful, and hopeful! I'd really like to see this set restored, as it was a gift from my mother-in-law, now deceased, who was a very dear friend. Thanks again! I've really enjoyed reading this forum!

Patsy Newsom
- Julian, North Carolina, USA

January 1, 2012

This worked for me on a couple of necklaces that had been exposed to hydrogen peroxide by accident. I just used excess of baking soda, a little bit of salt, boiling water and a sheet of tin foil in a tupperware container.

Kate Lewis
- Syracuse, New York, USA

Hi kate. Thanks.

I'll bet your grandmother didn't die while you were still young, but taught you a bit of cooking. Before WWII people actually used tin foil; but aluminum foil became available cheaper, and supplanted it. People who used tin foil tended to continue calling the new fangled stuff "tin foil" and pass the phrase on to the next generations :-)


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

January 28, 2012

Washing soda is usually much more effective than baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate). Washing soda is "sodium TRIcarbonate" and is more active chemically so will often clean those older 'deeper' tarnish spots. The water must be very hot and I prefer to cover the container - when convenient, so the water stays warmer longer. Washing soda is usually available in larger supermarkets. Arm & Hammer also makes washing soda.

Doug Koch
- Southfield, Michigan

January 30, 2012

Thanks, Doug. Good ideas. But washing soda is actually sodium carbonate. The "bi" in bicarbonate doesn't mean "two", it indicates hydrogen in the compound.

Baking soda is NaHCO3, washing soda is Na2CO3.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

February 11, 2012

Q. What is the difference between washing soda and baking soda to clean silver? I used washing soda, but I used double the suggested proportion by mistake. It worked, but now I'm wondering if I harmed the silver plate.

Gilda Schneider
- New York, New York, USA

June 10, 2012

A. Hi Gilda. Washing soda is a bit more alkaline, and consequently it is both a better cleaner and more conductive -- but lots of people have had success with baking soda too. I doubt that washing soda or baking soda will hurt silver.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

December 23, 2012

Q. Hi,

I just used this method to try cleaning some old silver plate cutlery. It worked well, and I could see a visible difference in 30 seconds or so. I used Baking Soda + Aluminium foil + hot water.

However, when I got to the forks, there was black tarnishing appearing on the prongs of the forks where it touched the aluminium. I had only done 3, so stopped at this point to research more.

I put one more fork in that I was sure had no black on the end, and again after 30 seconds or so the tips became blackened.

I was able to get rid of the black tarnish with a normal silver polish cloth, however I'm wondering why this might be happening?

It's almost like the tarnish is being moved from one area to another. Should I just leave them in longer and eventually it'd all go? Any other ideas?

James Gould
- Stafford, UK

October 15, 2013

Q. I have inherited my grandmother's silver. I did the foil, salt, washing soda dip method on a black with tarnish tea set. It came clean but doesn't have any shine. It almost appears to be pewter. I know it is silver plate and remember it being shiny before. What can I do?

Doug Blackburn
- Cherryville, North Carolina, USA

October 17, 2013

A. Hi Doug. Even if all the tarnish has been removed, you won't have much shine if the surface is not extremely smooth. At this point it needs polishing to mechanically smooth it. The plating is thin, so you can't overdo it, but a soft buffing wheel for a battery-operated drill, and a dab of silver polish should do it.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

affil. link
Wright's Silver Cream
(pack of 6)

November 17, 2014

Q. I am hoping to find where I can purchase the SMC Silver Care cream to use after I have used the SMC Cleaning Plate. I purchased the plate and cream several years ago and hope to be able to get more cream. The company was Special Metal Cleaners, Inc. Fairmont NE 68354.
Thank You.

Eulyn Riemersma
- spirit Lake Iowa

November 2014

A. Hi Eulyn. To be realistic, if Google can't find SMC they're probably out of business. But there are many silver polishes. Haggerty Silver Polish was recommended on this page, and Wright's Silver Cream =>
has been recommended on other threads. "Cape Cod metal polish" [link is to product info on Amazon] is another possibility. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

How to get aluminum off silver

May 22, 2015

Q. Last week, I was outside with my dog, playing with the hose. Since the well water had sulfur in it, it dyed my silver bracelet to a bronze color. I looked on Google and found that if you mix water, baking soda, and aluminum foil, it will take this tarnish off. It did! (for the most part) There was only a little bit of tarnish left, so I left it in for a little longer. When I took it out, part of it was now black... what do I do about this?


Can it be reversed by using sulfur again?

Elizabeth Krotov
teacher - Cape Coral, Florida, USA

May 2015

A. Hi Elizabeth. Sulfur is the primary cause of this blackening, not the cure. The dark area is probably just where the bracelet was tightly touching the aluminum with no room to breathe. After removing as much tarnish (of any color) as you can by lying the bracelet on the aluminum foil in a non-metal container, and pouring a hot mixture of water and the "salt" of your choice onto it; and possibly flipping the bracelet over, then remove any remaining spots (of any color) with silver polish. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

May 25, 2015

Q. I bought a pendant that is sterling but had that ugly black fake antique-ing added to it, which I really don't like. I used the stinky sulphur smelling dip stuff to remove it, but maybe went too far and now it's a flat white-ish color. Any suggestions on how to polish it up now that I got the ugly fake tarnish off? Hope I didn't ruin it :-(

Marianne Lower
- Clearwater, Florida, USA

May 2015

A. Hi Marianne. I don't know what you mean by the "stinky sulphur smelling-dip stuff". Liver of sulphur is used to deliberately tarnish silver -- not to remove tarnish.

But maybe you consider commercial silver polish to be sulphur smelling? If we don't know what you did it's very hard to suggest what is wrong or what to do next. Did you try silver polish? Did you try the aluminum foil approach that is the subject of the thread?


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

Q. My 60 year old silver plate spoon turned black after using the spoon to remove the cream of mushroom soup from the aluminum can. Immediately the spoon turned black and I cannot get it off. Please advise.

Marie Gough
- New City, New York USA

August 2015

A. Hi Marie. It seems hard to believe that a silver plated spoon could be 60 years old without ever once requiring a tarnish-removal treatment with commercial silver polish or aluminum foil and washing soda. So what exactly do you mean when you say you "cannot get it off"? You used an aluminum cleaning plate with washing soda and boiling water like you already knew how to do -- but this time it refused to work? Then you tried commercial silver polish and still no change?


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

affil. link
Washing Soda

August 6, 2015

A. I don't know why people keep talking about "washing soda". Many years ago it was a common household item, but now it is very hard for most people to find locally, at least in the parts of the USA with which I'm familiar.

The good news is that sodium carbonate (which is what washing soda really is) is very commonly available in places that sell swimming pool supplies. It's used to raise the pH level of the water. Look for products called "pH booster", "alkalinity booster", or something similar, and read the labels. Many of them are nothing more than sodium carbonate.

If all else fails, you can turn baking soda into washing soda at home by (how's this for irony...) baking it. Pour it onto a cookie sheet and bake it at 400 °F (200 °C) for about half an hour.

Reid Kneeland
- Los Angeles, California, USA

January 20, 2017

A. Washing Soda is sodium carbonate, and Baking Soda is sodium bicarbonate.
Washing Soda is a stronger base than Baking Soda.
The good news is Washing Soda can be made from Baking Soda by simply heating it to drive off a CO2 molecule.
If you watch carefully, there is a very slight visual change in the consistency of the powder when it converts, it appears slightly finer grained and may flow easier.

William Johnson
- New York, USA

July 26, 2019

A. I made the mistake of soaking in a sulfur hot spring with my silver ring. It turned black. The foil baking soda method worked with a few tweaks. I boiled just enough water in a small saucepan to cover the ring. I removed the pot from the stove and placed a square of foil in the pan - it floated until I dropped my heavy ring onto it. I then dumped about three or four tablespoons of baking soda directly onto the ring. Each dose was satisfyingly bubbly. It took a couple of minutes to see results. I ended up spinning and flipping my wide band ring to get as much surface in contact with the foil as possible. I then removed the ring and washed it with an all natural dish detergent and scrubbed lightly with an old soft toothbrush. I topped it off with some silver polish. Clean as a whistle.

Michele McGinnis
- Yakima, Washington, USA

November 11, 2019

Q. MY MAIN PROBLEM IS THE WHITE CLOUDY LAYER LEFT AFTER THE TREATMENT. I bought several pieces of tarnished silver - 2 6"flat candy dishes, forks, a 4" candy type dish with lid. I also got a tea set (silver-looking tea pot, creamer and sugar), badly tarnished. They also had an artistic 'dent hammered' finish.
I did the aluminum-baking soda- hot water treatment. The tea set came out much lighter, but with a THICK layer of white residue, almost impossible to scrub or polish off with a microfiber cloth. (I don't want to scrub with anything The others have a thinner layer of white stuff. Still very hard to remove.
This has happened with a LOT of the silver I've "polished" with this method.

What can I do to prevent this, or remove it?
Also, if it's pewter would it tarnish?

Margaret McLane
Retired nurse - Fresno, California, USA

January 23, 2020

A. Hello Margaret McLane!

Remove it from what, exactly...?

Just wondering, why use baking soda or even washing soda rather than plain table salt (NaCl)? I've never heard of using, nor have I ever used, anything else.

Actually, I just get a few cheapo disposable aluminum pie pans, put the table salt and warm water into those, and skip the foil. As long as the item to be cleaned is in contact with the aluminum, even minimally, it works great. All that's left is mucky aluminum, and I still throw it into the recycle bin, since it gets cleaned up by the recycling place...

P.S. Feb. 14: As far as I know, the object being cleaned must be in contact with the aluminum. It can just be a small spot, though.

Kris Krieger
- Houston, Texas, USA is possible thanks to our supporting advertisers, including this one:


Q, A, or Comment on THIS thread SEARCH for Threads about ... My Topic Not Found: Start NEW Thread

Disclaimer: It's not possible to diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations may be deliberately harmful.

  If you need a product/service, please check these Directories:

JobshopsCapital Equip. & Install'nChemicals & Consumables Consult'g, Train'g, SoftwareEnvironmental Compliance

©1995-2020, Inc., Pine Beach, NJ   -   About   -  Privacy Policy
How Google uses data when you visit this site.