CLEANING SILVER BELLS????
February 10, 2009 at 6:02 pm #11063
I HAVE COLLECTED BRASS AND BRONZE BELLS AND IN GENERAL DO NOT CLEAN THEM. BUT I HAVE ACQUIRED A FEW SILVER BELLS SOME OF WHICH ARE SEVERELY TARNISHED. DO YOU ADVISE CLEANING OF SILVER BELLS, AND WHAT CLEANING METHOD OR PRODUCT IS THE BEST?
February 11, 2009 at 5:41 pm #14442hjlongMember
Silver polish is abrasive and will remove silver from the surface each time the bell is cleaned. For sterling silver bells, this will reduce the detail of the bell over time. For silver plated bells, polish will eventually remove the silver plate down to the base metal, usually brass or bronze. If you need to remove tarnish, use a silver dip. This is a chemical dip similar to photographic hypo that will reduce the tarnish chemically to the base silver and will not damage the bell. It can be obtained at most jewelry stores, department stores, and hardware stores. The chemical dip has a sulfuric odor and is quite irritating to the skin, so you should use it in a well ventillated space and handle the bell with latex or vinyl gloves. Once the tarnish is removed, the bell can be stored in a tarnish proof flannel bag (available at most jewelry stores and department stores). If you wish to display the bell, you will need to regularly clean the bell in silver dip to prevent tarnish from returning.
February 16, 2009 at 4:46 am #14443DianeMember
I’ve long pondered this question as well. I’ve been thinking of buying one of those metal cleaning plates seen on TV and in cooking stores, the ones activated by washing soda. Since all my silver and silver- plate bells are 50 or more years old I’m very wary of putting them in any chemical mix. This method seems the least corrosive. Has anyone tried one of these? What do other members think about even cleaning antique or near antique silver? We have discussed this at chapter meetings but there seems to be as many opinions as there are members. 😕 Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
February 17, 2009 at 11:29 pm #14444AnonymousInactive
I have used a “Maggie Pan”, magnesium plate in the bottom of a non-reactive tray (or plastic dish pan) and it has worked well for some of my silver bells and ruined the finish on others. Some of the dulled surfaces just needed to be buffed with a clean cloth to restore its shine. I would not recommend this method for silver plate. I think it works better on sterling than on plate.
I haven’t tried the dip that Harry referred to on my bells but I have used it on my sterling silver flatware with no problems. The only caution about this method is that it removes all of the tarnish that helps emphasize the design/pattern.
I’d be interested in hearing what others have to say about their experiences with different methods of removing tarnish.
February 23, 2009 at 4:12 am #14445AnonymousInactive
I taught Chemistry for over 30 years. The sulfuric acid dip works well but also removes silver from an item. Oxygen has no effect on tarnishing silver. The culprit is sulfur compounds in the air, producing black silver sulfide. Houses using oil furnaces are often the worst. To remove the very heavy black silver sulfide tarnish from an item the simplest and cheapest method is to put a piece of throw away aluminum pie plate into a pot of hot water with a spoonful or so of baking soda. The silver item must be totally submerged and in contact with the aluminum. It not only removes the tarnish but converts it back into the original silver so that very little of the original silver is lost. I won’t bore you with the chemical equations. Silver polishes work too, of course, but permanently removes silver a little bit at a time.
Many thanks, Rob! This is nice to know.
March 2, 2009 at 2:50 pm #14446beausoneParticipant
I want to try your chemical cleaning method on the silver/silverplate bells that I have in my collection. How long does the item need to stay in the solution?
March 3, 2009 at 1:08 am #14447
Thank you for all your responses. They are very helpful. A second part to my question was in general do bell collectors clean their silver bells?
Thank you Deb
March 3, 2009 at 2:10 pm #14448hjlongMember
If you use the silver dip or the “Maggie” pan, you need keep the bell submerged until the tarnish has cleared. With the dip, it is a matter of seconds.
With Sterling Silver, I don’t hesitate to clean the bells whenever there is tarnish visible. For silver plate, I generally wait a bit longer as I do not want to remove the silver from the base metal. Storage of the bells after they are clean is important. If they are near paper, stored on wooden shelves or cabinets, exposed to household air, frequently touched, then they will tarnish quickly due to exposure to sulfur in those environments. The best storage would be in a flannel silver bag (obtained at most jewelry stores or department stores). They will not be visible until they are removed from the bag, but will keep their shine longer. They should be handled with clean cotton gloves to avoid chemicals from the skin from coming in contact with the silver. Most people find these measures impractical and simply clean the bells whenever they tarnish.
March 4, 2009 at 3:30 am #14449
Here are the directions that came with my “Maggie Pan”.
“MAGGIE PAN SILVER CLEANER FOR STERLING OR SILVERPLATE”
Place the magnesium plate in bottom of pan. Then put your silverware in the Maggie Pan, first making sure that the silver is clean and free from grease or food particles.
Fill the Maggie Pan with hot water and add a tablespoon of any liquid detergent (such as Joy, etc.). Mix detergent well in the hot water. Allow to stand until the silver is bright, shuffling gently from time to time to expose all surfaces of the silver.
The time required is usually from five to ten minutes, depending on the local water and the original discoloration of the silver.
When the silver is brightened, remove it from the pan, rinse and dry briskly with a towel. Empty the water from the pan, rinse and dry the pan and the magnesium plate thoroughly.
The Maggie Pan brightens silver by gentle electrolytic action, restoring the silver, silver alloys or silver plate to original brightness. This process not only does not harm the silver but actually restores the silver lost through stain, tarnish or corrosion to its original metallic state.
Eventually the magnesium plate will lose its bright appearance, gradually turning gray. This does not affect its performance in any way.
You can clean larger silver pieces – trays, cocktail shakers, creamers, etc. – by placing the magnesium plate in the bottom of your sink, placing the silver in contact with the magnesium plate, filling sink with enough hot water to cover pieces being cleaned, adding detergent, and proceding as before.
Silver which has not been cleaned in a long time and is black with tarnish will have to be rubbed with silver polish before its brightness can be maintained by your Maggie Pan.
CAUTION: If antique silver is cleaned for too long a time in the Maggie Pan, there is a possibility that the “antiquing” will be removed along with other tarnish.
Your Maggie Pan will give you years of bright silver with less work.
Beh Housewares Corp. – 230 Fifth Ave. – NYC 10001
Again, the “Maggie Pan” is a brand name and the directions above were included with my pan when I bought it. The Maggie Pan has two pieces: a sheet of magnesium and a plastic pan. When it talks about doing larger pieces in the sink, I would suspect that it should be a porcelain sink (or large, plastic tub). I know nothing about chemistry but I would think a stainless steel sink might not do the job. But, that’s just a hunch. A plastic dish pan would work.
The key is to have the silver touch the magnesium. You may have to turn the piece several times, depending on how big your bell is.
March 4, 2009 at 5:09 am #14450
wow ! Thanks Carolyn, that took a lot of time and effort to type in all those directions. Now one more thing. I have googled maggie pan and even looked on ebay but could not find anything about how to get one, except one note mentioned that it was no longer available through Harriett Carter. Do you know when I could get one? Many thanks Deb
March 4, 2009 at 6:03 am #14451
I use a search engine called “Dogpile” at dogpile.com. Not very attractive sounding name but they are like “Travelocity” and other travel websites in that they search several sites and give you the results so it saves time.
You might want to go to http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/cleaning/msg0516444920810.html and read the feedback there. You might change your mind about using a Maggie Pan after reading it.
Someone posted a message that echos Rob’s suggestion:
RE: Maggie Pan Silver Cleaner instructions
Posted by PKguy (My Page) on Thu, Jun 9, 05 at 9:55
What Buttons is referring to is an age old method of cleaning silver. You don’t need any special pans or plates, just a non metallic bowl and any piece of aluminum foil or pie plate will do…
Fill the non-metallic (glass or plastic) bowl with hot water, put a sheet of aluminum foil or a foil pie plate into the water submerged. Dissolve about 3 tablespoons of salt and 3 tablespoons of baking SODA or Washing SODA into the hot water.
Now take your piece of tarnished silver and dip it into the water ensuring that it touches the aluminum, voila, the tarnish will disappear Very simple. You don’t want to use this method of cleaning silver if you like your silverware to have that dark look around decorations and embossing because it will remove the tarnish from the crevices as well.
Please understand, I am not recommending or endorsing the Maggie Pan. I’ve simply said that I’ve used it with some good results and some bad results. Polishing silver is something I don’t like to do so I tried to take the easy way out. I probably wouldn’t use it on my bells again.
The most beautifully polished silver bells I’ve ever seen were at Judy and Charlie Blake’s home in Shoreham, VT, where they hosted a New England Chapter meeting a few years ago. When she told me her secret of how she managed to keep her silver bells looking so good, I was truly envious. Her response? “Charlie polishes them!”
March 9, 2009 at 4:28 am #14452Wade W PrenticeParticipant
I use a product called FLITZ. It is not caustic or abrasive. It could be swallowed without harm. Comes in a tube and I have seen it in Antique shops and malls. Does not take much,put a little on a soft cloth rub it on the silver to be polished then rub it off with a clean cloth. The only thing it removes is the corrosion leaving a brightly shined bell. Wade
April 5, 2009 at 3:19 am #14453AnonymousInactive
A discard aluminum pie plate is free once you have eaten the pie. Magnesium and aluminum plates sold for this purpose such as “Maggie Pan” are just gimmicks sold by enterprising folk. I have seen them sold for as much as $30 a kit. They work no better than a simple Al pie plate. They are just pieces of aluminum or magnesium after all.
October 3, 2011 at 5:12 am #14454
I’ve just come across the website of Jeffrey Herman, a professional silver restorer and conservationist. He includes a great page on the Care of Silver. You can find it at http://www.hermansilver.com/care.htm. He has a section on Basic Silver Care, Additional Advice for Flood Victims, Cleaning Silver, Never Use Toothpaste as a Silver Polish, Chemical Dips, Electrochemical (Galvanic) Reduction, etc. He also says to keep the silver out of the dishwasher and tells why.
There was a surprise on page http://www.hermansilver.com/sanitizer.htm where he talks about finding a new way of removing tarnish: liquid, non-abrasive, unscented, aloe-free hand sanitizer such as Purell!
I haven’t tried it but I did find this interesting and thought I’d share.
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