What Tarnishes Silver Jewelry?
In this video, I demonstrate which household lotions and chemicals we are frequently exposed to can tarnish sterling silver. Next, I show how to clean a permanent silver bracelet (which you cannot remove from the wrist. Unlike a regular bracelet with a clasp, thus causing a slight challenge).
For my demonstration, I first obtained a long piece of tarnished sterling silver. I cut half of it and cleaned it in a liquid silver cleaner (or sometimes called dip). Next, I set aside the other section of the chain for a later comparison. I do this to show that the silver can become tarnished and that it can be brought back to its original shine.
Note: the silver cleaner I used in the video is old. I’ve cleaned a lot of silver with it, and so it has become weak. I did not have time to purchase a new jar of it before filming, so I had to leave the chain in it for over 2.5 minutes. A fresh container should be able to clean the silver in a fraction of that time.
I cut sections of the cleaned chain and exposed it to a) diluted chlorine (to simulate common indoor pool water), b) diluted sea salt (to simulate salt water pool, but many salt water pools have other chemicals), c) hand sanitizer, d) sunblock (although brands greatly vary in formula and scent), e) hand cream (in this case, it is just a brand with slight scent), and f) perfumed gel soap and shampoo.
The experiment showed that chlorine darkened the silver quickly and very noticeably, and the perfumed hotel liquid soap only slightly. However, all other liquids had no discernible effect after five minutes of exposure.
To clean a permanent silver bracelet (a slight challenge because you cannot take it off from the wrist), I demonstrate how to do this by taking a portion of the tarnished chain and making it into a bracelet. I then put on a thin latex glove under the bracelet, thus protecting my skin. I dip a toothbrush in the same liquid silver cleaner and brushed the bracelet, thoroughly coating a section of the chain as a test. This method works quickly and effectively. I can see the difference almost immediately, but I left the silver cleaner on for two minutes before rinsing it in water.
Please note: liquid silver cleaner is corrosive and will damage your skin if you leave it on bare skin. So, always wear protective gloves and rinse your silver, and your hands, thoroughly each time.