EASY LIFE HACKS
I discovered a simple, foolproof way to clean real silver without the toxic polish, without the fumes and without the piles of used paper towels. My reaction to this discovery was equal parts elation and rage. It was magic to see, but infuriating, too. I’d wasted whole afternoons of my life slaving away at that kitchen table when I could have been doing this simple process instead. I’m now going to share this method with you!
To begin, you’ll need a plastic container large enough to fit the items you’re cleaning, some aluminum foil, boiling water, and a few tablespoons of baking soda.
Bring water to a boil (enough to completely submerge your piece of silver) and line your container with a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side up (it’s OK if you need to use several sheets overlapping in a larger container). Fill your container with boiling water and then add baking soda, roughly 2tbsp per 0.3 gallon of boiling water. Next, add the silver, making sure it touches the aluminum foil.
Immediately you’ll see a bit of bubbling and fizzing, and gradually you’ll see the tarnish being lifted from the silver, revealing the shiny lustre underneath. After a few minutes, remove the silver (carefully – it’ll be hot) and remove any lingering tarnish by drying it with a soft cloth. If your piece is badly tarnished, you may need to repeat the process a few times.
The magic behind this hands-free silver polish is the way that the tarnish coating on the silver reacts with aluminum. Sulfur atoms, which adhere to the silver to create silver sulfide – that dark, tarnished look – are carried by the solution and transfer to the aluminum, forming aluminum sulfide and leaving your silver sparkling. Recycle the aluminum foil and you’ve got a waste-free way to polish your silver.
Eco-friendly methods are their best when they’re like these two tricks: quick, easy, and effective. I’ve never been a very good martyr (just ask my parents, who had to listen to me moan and whine about the silver-polishing) so while my motivation for taking a DIY approach to laundry detergent, cleaning, or personal care products is ultimately about mitigating my impact on the environment (doing so virtually eliminates packaging, drastically reduces waste, and uses non-toxic ingredients) it also just has to work! : )
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