silver tea set question...

dreamgoddessJuly 4, 2009

I have a silver tea set, actually I'm sure it's probably silver plated, and I hate having to polish it. It seems like within a month of cleaning it, it's already tarnishing again.

I was wondering if I could polish it and then spray clear non-yellowing sealer on the pieces? This should prevent the pieces from tarnishing again, but are there drawbacks to doing this? Has anyone tried this before? I'd love to know how it worked out if you have.

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I wouldn't spray anything on your silver even if it is plated. The easiest thing to do is buy some tarnish inhibitor silverware cloth it sells for around $16- 22 a yard but you may be able to find it cheaper. I used some to sew a few pouches to put my silver pieces in and it keeps them tarnish free in between uses. The most important part is keeping the air away from the silver.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 9:43AM
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Please don't do that. I fear you will ruin your silver. I used to have my tea service sitting out. I put Hagerty silver strips discreetly in and under pieces. It helped keep the tarnish down.

I too got tired of polishing, so now it is stored in Pacific silver cloth (available online and at large fabric stores) in my sideboard, polished and ready for me to use at any time.

I use the Hagerty silver strips in my silver chest also, and I store my silver jewelry in there, too, to keep it tarnish free.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 9:45AM
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The reason I was thinking of doing this is because the set isn't stored away. It sits on a table in my dining area and is used purely for decorative purposes.

bbstx, how did you place the strips under the pieces so they couldn't be seen?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 11:17AM
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A very, very, very thin coat of a preservation-grade microcrystalline wax like Renaissance Wax will help minimize tarnishing, although it will not stop it permanently. (If it's good enough for Buckingham Palace and The Smithsonian...)

If the piece is not valuable, a good silversmith can lacquer it, although that does affect the appearance somewhat, and it pretty much wrecks any value it might have.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 2:24PM
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I cut the strips into smallish pieces and tried to tuck them behind/under the pieces. Unfortunately, they could be seen, but it helped.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 2:27PM
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Do what my mother does with her silver service. She invites the grandchildren over for a polishing party. :)

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 2:40PM
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There's an easy way to remove the tarnish that doesn't involve polishing. You need a container (dish, saucepan, bucket-whatever) large enough for the silver object to be immersed in, and you line the bottom with aluminum foil. Boil enough water to cover, and add a ton of baking soda or table salt to the water to dissolve (about 1/4 cup per quart). Place the silver object on the foil (it has to be in good contact) then pour salty water over and let it sit for a while. It usually doesn't take any more than 10 minutes, depending on how tarnished it is. I do this as a demo in my chemistry class every year before Thanksgiving--it amazes my students and gets me ready for the holiday!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 5:56PM
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If you lacquer, eventually tarnish will form under the lacquer & you'll have to remove it in order to polish.

You might try silver polish impregnated mittens (Oneida makes them, I think) & give the tea set a light once-over when you dust to avoid the dreaded heavy duty polishing. The articles should be clean/polished to start with.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 1:28AM
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I meant to mention that Kristine's method will likely remove any darkening that was intentionally applied in crevices by the maker to emphasis ornate details. Without the contrast, the features can appear flat & nondescript; dealers in antique silver refer to this as 'being skinned'.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 1:42AM
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Ok, ya'll talked me out of doing this. I guess it wasn't such a great idea. LOL!

Antiquesilver, I didn't realize tarnish could form under lacquer. The mittens sound interesting and I think I might give them a try.

How often should silver pieces be polished?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 8:57AM
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Can I jump in here and ask what the best silver polish is?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 9:13AM
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My family has always used wrights silver cream. but there may be others

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 10:45AM
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A couple of months ago, someone on here suggested trying Simichrome. It polishes all types of metal. I used it to restore an antique brass vintage chandelier that I bought for my dining area. I also use it on my silver pieces.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 11:06AM
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Simichrome is good to use occasionally when the tarnish is really built up but it contains an abrasive & will eventually wear through plating. Best to buy a gentle polish for regular use on silver. My favorite is Seed's Merit polish but it's hard to find; Renovation Hdwe used to carry it but I bought it online last time from the manufacturer. Hagertys & Wrights are the other 2 that come to mind but all do the same job.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 1:45PM
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Let me comment on the aluminum foil, boiling water, etc method of tarnish removal: DON'T DO IT!!!

My former MIL gave me a heavily tarnished tea set that she had gotten somewhere. I tried it and ended up with no silver on my tea set. Thanks goodness it wasn't the good tea service my grandmother had given me!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 3:05PM
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bbstx - Your tea set must have been plate, and down to the last layer for that to happen. ;) Make sure your silver is good sterling before trying the aluminum/hot water trick.

I place small silver objects in a baggy to keep the air out. Works pretty well and I only need to touch the silver up a bit before the next use. Putting the silver in a baggy with a silver cloth would work even better.

Here is my butter dish. Polished it before Christmas, used it Christmas day and at Easter. Still looks great!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 4:02PM
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If you need agreement on what NOT to do, I am here to tell you not to do that foil boiling water method, not to lacquer it.
I second antiquesilver's words about the no tarnish mitts, but even better is just to "wash" the set with warm water and Wright's silver polish on a sponge.
If you do that every 5 or 6 weeks, you will never need to do a big deal polish job.
Linda C

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 4:20PM
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I plan to laquer some of my decorative copper pots one of these days. Some actually had lacquer when I got some of them and I removed it because of the 'skin' look they had. And then life happened, and I rarely got to polish.
As far as I'm concerned now, some skin is OK, lol.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 5:05PM
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My copper pots were lacquered by a professional, but they still turned.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 6:41PM
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I want to second lindac's advice.

I have lots and lots of silver; I grew up with it, and learned from my mother and grandmother how to take care of it.

DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT use the salt/soda method, or any sort of dip like Tarnex. DON'T use any kind of laquer or coating. And it is best not to store it in plastic, because moisture is its enemy.

The least labor intensive method that is also good for the silver is not to do anything but wash it thoroughly with Wright's Silver Cream (it comes with a little sponge in it). If it's heavily tarnished, it may take some patience the first time. Wear rubber gloves, as the chemicals are a little hard on the hands.

Use hot water to rinse, and dry it thoroughly with cotton or linen towels before you put it away. Remember that silver is very soft, and will scratch if you use anything abrasive on it, so use only soft sponges and soft cloths...most paper towels are too rough.

If you have ornate decoration in high relief with lots of nooks and crannies, you can use a very soft toothbrush (I use the ones made for little children) and scrub gently around the elaborate bits...but you want to leave some of the tarnish deep in the pattern. That's what gives it definition and life.

Silver is meant to be seen, and you just have to take a deep breath and be willing to take care of it! Once you get in the habit, it's no trouble at all, and it will reward you with its beauty.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 6:45PM
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