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Will the silver get broken down (disappear a little bit) when cleaning silver utensils with boiling water, baking soda and aluminium?

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    How exactly is aluminum involved? Dec 25, 2014 at 18:48
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    Hello Enthuziast, welcome to the site! For those who wonder, cleaning silver works roughly like this: Place a sheet of aluminum foil in a shallow non-metal bowl (a glass baking dish works best). Place the tarnished pieces on top, making sure that all of them touch the foil. Pour boiling water with a bit of baking soda over the silverware. Due to a chemical reaction, the silver clears and the aluminum tarnishes after a while. Rinse, dry carefully, store the silver in a dry spot, preferably with a few pieces of chalk.
    – Stephie
    Dec 25, 2014 at 19:34
  • @Stephie What does the chalk do?
    – Jolenealaska
    Dec 27, 2014 at 14:28
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    @Jolenealaska: old household trick of my granny, attracts moisture. Less moisture = less tarnishing. I suppose a few of these silica packs that come with new shoes etc. would work, too.
    – Stephie
    Dec 27, 2014 at 14:30
  • This question may be better suited for the Chemistry or Life Hack StackExchange. Jan 1, 2015 at 2:35

2 Answers 2

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Aluminium is just a catalyst (is not consumed) in this reaction

Silver sulfides are in theory reformed back into silver, so none should be lost. In practice the sulfides will have moved the silver away from the main surface with pitting etc, so some silver will be lost, but there is no product that can put the silver back in place anyway

A large surface area of aluminium, and plenty of heat improves the reaction

In the days before marketing companies selling us crap in cans, people used to use a purpose made sheet of (rather impure) aluminum for this very purpose, it had hundreds of tiny holes punched into it to improve the surface area

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Electrochemical de-tarnishing removes very little silver compared to mechanical methods. However, you may get uneven cleaning and color changes from the way the silver recrystallizes.

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