Polishing jewellery is hard and dirty work, don’t spoil it with Bicarb!
Put the bicarb down!
We’ve all seen the ‘magic’ trick of using bicarbonate of soda with tin foil and hot water to clean tarnished silver jewellery, but does it actually work?
Yes is the answer! It does work, and it works well for removing tarnish, but the reason it’s working is harming your jewellery!
The sciencey bit
Chemically speaking, tarnish is silver sulfide, and it can be reduced back to silver in a classic redox electrochemical reaction. Tarnished silver (the cathode) is placed in direct contact with an anode (the aluminum) in a saltwater bath (the baking soda solution). The saltwater facilitates the movement of electrons between the silver and aluminum. Since aluminum has a much higher affinity for sulfur atoms than silver, the silver ion is reduced back to silver, and sulfide ions are released. These bind to aluminum to form aluminum sulfide. The aluminum corrodes, and the silver turns shiny.
What’s so bad about that?
In addiction to removing any patina used to highlight parts of your jewellery (the intentional blackening of the silver), baking soda also causes pitting and micro etches the surface of the silver. The pitting isn’t obvious to the naked eye, but is visible under a microscope.
But if I can’t see it, why does it matter?
Each time you use this method, you’ll be causing more pitting, and the more pitting you create, the worse your silver will tarnish! Eeek! That’s the complete reverse of what you wanted, right?! Each piece that leaves me here at Little Black Cat Jewellery is polished to within an inch of it’s life, something I’m extremely proud of. Once you start using bi-carb, you’re never going to get that beautiful super shine back, and that makes me sad!
So yes, whilst it’s a quick fix, and everyone on Instagram, Tik Tok, and what seems like the entire planet is saying how quick, easy and brilliant this method is, making cute videos about it and tempting you, PLEASE PUT THE BICARB DOWN! Your jewellery will love you for it!
Scanned to the bottom for a quick sum up?
Bicarb/Bicarbonate of soda/Baking Powder is BAD for your jewellery, it’s abrasive and causes pitting to silver, which causes more tarnish! (Yes, even posh M&S Bicarb like this one!!)
I suggest using Goddards Silver polish (not dip), and a very soft cotton cloth to remove any tarnish. Robert Dyers or Amazon usually stock this.
Prevent tarnish altogether by wearing your jewellery! Silver loves to be worn, and will naturally tarnish if left out. If you need to store it, use a sealed zip lock bag, or keep it in the gift box I send with your jewellery (those little black shiny tabs in the boxes and bags? They’re ANTI-TANISH TABS! Use them to keep your jewellery beautiful!)
You’ll also receive a mini polishing cloth with your silver order- great for polishing your silver back to beautiful in no time!
And if you’re really stuck with removing tarnish, give me a shout! You’re welcome to return your pieces for a professional clean, free of charge, just cover postage.
I hop this has been helpful? Any questions, drop them below!