How Aluminum Foil And Baking Soda Can Polish Silverware

Colloquially in the United States, the term "silverware" has come to mean any kind of eating utensil made of any kind of material — most often forks, knives, and spoons –but the term actually comes from the specific utensils that are coated in silver, per Liberty Tabletop. Not only do these pieces look fancy, they're also pretty straightforward to maintain if you know what you're doing (and you have some baking soda and aluminum foil on hand).

The one thing to look out for in silverware is tarnish. According to the Canadian Conservation Institute, when silver comes into contact with traces of sulfur in the air, a chemical reaction forms silver sulfide, darkening the silver item's luster and sometimes forming black splotches on its surface. Often the process of removing this tarnish can be a bit labor intensive and can even remove small amounts of silver with each cleaning. The best way to preserve your silverware is to clean it regularly after use (as you would any other utensil) and keep it in a safe place with not too much airflow.

Cleaning silver with baking soda and aluminum foil

The process to clean tarnished silver is very simple and relies on a basic chemical reaction. According to The Guardian, when water, aluminum, and baking soda come into contact with a silver item, the sulfur atoms of the silver sulfide are carried through the baking soda and water solution and attach to the aluminum instead, removing the tarnished appearance from the silver.

The Home Depot suggests lining a suitably large pot with aluminum foil and filling it with boiling water. Next, add baking soda to the pot and mix to ensure that it dissolves, adding about a tablespoon of baking soda per cup of water. Finally, add in the silverware carefully and let it sit for about 10 minutes (the time needed can vary depending on how tarnished the silver is). Then remove the silver and dry it with a clean cloth. The process is quite fascinating to witness, but less so to smell, so make sure that along with the baking soda and aluminum foil you have a good bit of ventilation as well.