How do I clean silver with aluminum foil and salt?

Silver jewelry can be impressively cleaned even with simple household remedies. How exactly can I clean my silver jewelry? With little chemical tricks :)

I found chemistry only moderately exciting in my school days, but for silver cleaning a little chemical knowledge is really useful! Now pay attention - cleaning silver jewellery can be that easy:

Cleaningsilver jewellerywith salt and aluminium foil
  1. Take a plastic bowl (no metal !)
  2. Sprinkle ordinary table salt in the bowl (for 1 litre of water you need about 200 g. salt)
  3. Pour hot water over the whole thing
  4. Wrap your jewellery in aluminium foil (not completely waterproof, just so that the jewellery is in contact with the aluminium foil) or line the inside of the bowl with aluminium foil (you should do this before you pour salt and hot water into the bowl ;))
  5. Put your silver jewellery in the bowl (only jewellery which has not been blackened and which is without stones and especially without pearls! Some stones and all pearls do not tolerate this cleaning method)

It is very fascinating to watch how quickly the dark layer separates from the silver. This creates a sulphur smell - this is quite normal, so please don't be surprised.

Depending on how dirty the silver is, this takes one to two minutes. Please do not leave your jewellery in the bowl for too long, otherwise another (this time different) patina will form on the silver, which is difficult to remove. So if your silver jewellery does not get completely clean the first time, it is better to take it out, wash it off thoroughly with clean water and repeat the whole process.

The fact that we use a simple chemical reaction to clean your jewellery limits the cleaning power of our cleaning bath.

Why? Quite simply:

The black layer on the silver is called "silver sulphide" - a completely normal connection between silver and sulphur, which the silver enters through contact with - for example - air. To form silver sulphide, silver has to give off electrons, so if we simply add new electrons to silver, it dissolves its bond with sulphur. We get these electrons from aluminium. The more "base" a metal is, the easier it is to release electrons. And since aluminium is base in comparison to silver (silver = precious metal / aluminium = no precious metal), the electrons of aluminium migrate to silver in a well-behaved manner. The salt in our cleaning bath separates into ions (charged particles) in the water and thus makes our water conductive.

As soon as our electrons have reached the silver, exactly what we were so fascinated to observe happens: The silver separates again from the sulfur. More scientifically speaking, a reduction from silver to aluminium takes place and these two metals exchange their binding partners to a certain extent - thus aluminium sulphite is created and our silver is "pure" again.

However, the electrons that such an aluminium foil can give off are naturally limited. At some point, the electrons stop moving and our reaction stops. So if our cleaning bath is "used up", the ions that helped to transport the electrons before can deposit on the silver - which leads to the already mentioned patina that is difficult to remove.

By the way: Using hot water only helps to speed up the whole process. It would actually work with cold water too, but then it takes much, much longer. So now our silver is clean again. But our reduction did not produce a real shine. So simply rub dry with a soft cloth and then polish with a silver cleaning cloth. Now our silver is almost as new!

Have silver jewellery cleaned

And if you think now: "Phew. Sounds all well and good. But actually I do not have time for it. Then we have a very simple solution for you: Just send all your silver jewellery to us! We clean your silver jewelleryProfessional and very comfortable for you and send your jewelry after work clean and beautiful back to you :)

Please use our contact form and send us pictures of your jewellery so that we can assess the extent of the cleaning in the best possible way. And if you have any questions, you can always send them to us as a message. We will of course advise you on all your questions. It is important to us that you have a good feeling when you place your jewellery in our hands :)