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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Polishing Found Silverware

So I've had this silver plated silverware in a cardboard box for the last few years. Apparently, at some point, I had planed to polish this silver. There was a bottle of this in the box:
I noticed the "As Seen on TV" tag and thought the process would be easy. It said to leave it on for a minute and then polish off the grime with a soft cloth. Easy, right?  I kept having visions of having this big dinner party with real silver and serving food on giant platters.  I even found little copper bells in the box.  Yes, we could use them to summon the servants.  (Wait, I'd be the servant. Forget those bells!)
Hmm, something didn't seem to be working. Some muck came off, but not much. I had to get serious. I donned an apron, my plastic gloves, and several more rags. I put the silverware in file size plastic bin. I dumped the whole bottle on all of it.  I left it for a while.  No problem, right? I come back a while later and start polishing. Okay, this wasn't going well. I am polishing and my rags are getting filthy, but the silverware still looks awful.  I jump online.  
I find a lot of different recipes. There was one with cornstarch. (Ugh, I didn't want to get on a chair as all of mine is above the frig.) Also, I have a big bag of baking soda, but again I wasn't exactly sure where it was.  One recipe called for Super Washing Soda, boiling water, and aluminum foil. I had all of those things handy. However, I was just exhausted so I again plunged all the utensils into the bin and tried to immerse it all in the fluid. I put a soaked rag with the silver cleaning stuff on top. I was thinking that maybe I could just polish it again and it would be fine. 
So the next day, I start to polish again. Some pieces looked better and some looked pretty bad. I had also stuck a piece of aluminum foil in the bin the night before. Much that had touched the foil seemed much cleaner. Yay, chemistry in action! I finished yet another polishing of all.
I simply layered all the pieces into the bin with aluminum foil. The shiny side is what you want. I made a little layer cake as I put water on to boil.  I stuck the plastic bin in my sink.  I poured some washing soda over the foil. When the water was ready, I poured it in. I probably added too much, but at this point, I was tired of polishing this silver! There was a lot of fizzing and bubbling.  I see the timer for fifteen minutes. A weird gas was being produced and I didn't want to breathe it in, so I went to a different room.  
The moment of truth came. I threw out the foil and dumped out the washing soda water. I rinsed the utensils and washed them with regular dish soap in hot water.   I started fishing out the silverware and polishing it. I put each piece onto a dry cloth. It finally looked better! 
There were still some black spots on odd pieces.  I was still getting some black marks, especially from the butter knives.  I was pretty excited because some of the pieces looked really good.  There were some strange very long, very short, and jagged spoons.  Ice cream, coffee, and grapefruit. Weird, I think I have learned about table placement of thousands of random pieces of silverware (Girl Scouts, sorority, or from some rags to riches movie? I'll never know.) I then look up "Is my silver plated flatware worth anything?" Guess the answer?  Yep, it's value is mostly sentimental! Ha. I quizzed my mom on the possible origins of this newly polished silver. She thinks she might have gotten it at a flea market. Some of it is engraved with a "B." Is it a complete set? I guess I will have to do some research and check. I really don't know.  

Another lesson learned, store your silver with a piece of chalk to absorb the moisture that causes oxidation or wrap it in a special silver cloth.  Polishing the silver seemed very labor intensive.  However, it is much shinier than my basic set of flatware.  There are many other methods for cleaning silver.  I just hope I am not doing it again soon!