Polish Silver, Copper, Brass, and Bronze

Scott Liddell, morguefile.com

I have a sterling silver dragon charm I wanted to wear the other day, but I had carelessly tossed it into my jewelry box when I took it off and it is more black than silver (I could have prevented that by sealing it in a small plastic bag). The dragon is intricate, so if I used a silver polish, I'd end up with a silver dragon encrusted with polish residue. Fortunately, kitchen chemistry can come to my rescue.

You can make your own silver, copper, and brass cleaners using common household ingredients. Not only will this save you money (and a trip to the store, if you're like me and never think to buy metal polish), but you'll save labor, too. The silver dip is hands-free, so you can have shining sterling silver (pure silver tends to not tarnish in the first place) without any rubbing or scrubbing. There's also a copper and brass cleaner that is easy to make. The greenish oxidation on brass, bronze, and copper is harder to remove than tarnish on silver, so this recipe uses flour as a non-scratch abrasive. The acidic ingredients react to dissolve the verdigris.

Copper & Brass Cleaner - Use ingredients from your kitchen to make your own copper and brass polish. This recipe works on decorative items, rails, brass instruments, and coins.
Silver Polishing Dip - This is a scrub-free way to polish silverware, holloware, and jewelry.

You just drop the silver items into the dip and an electrochemical reaction takes away the tarnish.