When I was putting up Christmas decorations a month ago, I decided I wanted to add some candles to the items on the mantle. Over the years I've accumulated an assortment of candlesticks of various sizes and textures and I thought adding them to the mantle would give it a fresher look. I've written before about wanting to totally redo that part of the decorations but not having the time this year so candlesticks were a bit of a compromise.
I was digging around in a drawer in the china cabinet where I keep the candles when I saw something small and dark that I didn't recognize. When I moved the candles around, I discovered it was our oldest son's baby spoon. And the reason that it was dark was that it was badly tarnished...as in black.
If you'd asked me beforehand if I still had it, I would probably have denied it. It has to have been in that drawer for the 24 years we've lived here and I can't tell you where it was kept in the old house. And while I might have forgotten still having it, I knew it was Brad's as soon as I saw it. It must have been a gift from someone as we certainly couldn't afford silver at that stage in our lives. I could probably dig around to find his baby book to determine from whom but I didn't. I know where the baby book is but I'd likely get lost in yesteryear looking at other memorabilia in that drawer in the process.
The spoon looks pretty bad, doesn't it. I wasn't sure it could be revived and frankly, I wasn't keen on the idea of spending hours with the silver polish. So I asked my friend Google how to clean badly tarnished silver. Sure enough, Google had an answer. In fact, several but I started with the simplest...baking soda, hot water and aluminum foil.
I lined a plastic bowl with aluminum foil, shiny side up, threw in some baking soda and poured in some water I heated in the microwave. In went the spoon for its cleansing bath.
Thanks to Google I learned that tarnish is actually silver sulfide but that process silver goes through to turn black can be reversed with the baking soda solution. The key is having the tarnished piece resting on aluminum and being fully immersed in the solution. Essentially, I created a small electrical current with a chemical reaction, causing the silver sulfide to transfer to the aluminium. Who knew I could be such a scientist? I was wishing for a lab coat.
While it only took a few minutes to see improvement, the spoon was still pretty black so I decided to take my science experiment one step further. Google also gave me a "recipe" that incorporated salt and vinegar with the baking soda/aluminum/hot water process I'd been using so I added both of those. Needless to say, it fizzed a good bit more so if you do it, be sure your bowl is big enough for this reaction. And be prepared for your kitchen to smell a little like a science lab too.
After a few minutes I took the spoon out to evaluate the progress. Note: Use tongs or something as the spoon gets hot sitting in the heated solution. You can see how the black was easily rubbing off as I was wiping it dry after rinsing it.
And here's the finished result. Amazing, isn't it? I did go over it with some silver polish and the black practically wiped off as I was wiping the polish on. I really didn't have to "polish" it; it practically did itself.
I'm pretty impressed that this blackened spoon in the back corner of a drawer has been restored to heirloom status, all thanks to some science. Needless to say, the spoon didn't go back in the drawer to be "lost" again for another 24 years; it's out with Grandma's cake plates now.
Don't you just love it when Google makes life easier?