My drawer of silverware was in serious need to polishing, and I decided to try an easier way than actual polishing. I had tried the baking soda, aluminum, salt and hot water method in the past with less than spectacular results. Then Maureen commented on my blog post about my silverware find, and she recommended using washing soda instead of regular baking soda. I had to hunt around on several stores to find the stuff, but it made all the difference. Thank you, Maureen.
Close the sink drain, then line the sink (or a plastic tub) with the aluminum foil. I read that you can also use those disposable aluminum cake pans. Fill the sink with boiling water, then add the washing soda and some salt. I didn't measure this - just dumped in about half the box of soda and a handful of salt. I stirred it up with a wooden spoon and then put my silverware into the solution.
Whoosh - the reaction was spectacular! It's hard to see in these photos, but the solution was hissing and bubbling and swirling like a magic cauldron! I did not get that spectacular reaction when I used plain baking soda.
This picture shows the swirling water - pretty cool!
I let the silver sit in the water for about thirty minutes. The tarnish was nearly gone, and what was left appeared to be sitting right on top. A swipe with a sponge removed the remaining tarnish.
In case you are a science geek, here's why this works. I didn't write this explanation - my high school teacher would readily acknowledge my total lack of interest in his droning lectures. Anyway, this is why it works . Info from here:
The reaction between silver sulfide and aluminum takes place when the two are in contact while they are immersed in a baking soda solution. The reaction is faster when the solution is warm. The solution carries the sulfur from the silver to the aluminum. The aluminum sulfide may adhere to the aluminum foil, or it may form tiny, pale yellow flakes in the bottom of the pan. The silver and aluminum must be in contact with each other, because a small electric current flows between them during the reaction. This type of reaction, which involves an electric current, is called an electrochemical reaction".
I do live an exciting life!