Better living through home chemistry…

I love sterling silver jewelry.* Not tasteful little chains and dainty bracelets with little heart and dolphin charms, but honking-big, clunky, shiny, could-signal-a-plane-to-land silver jewelry. And it has to be silver, real .925 sterling, because I’m allergic to nickle and no piece of jewelry looks good atop a scaly, red, weepy rash.

Unfortunately, sterling silver jewelry tarnishes** and, it seems to me, it tarnishes more quickly in the humidity of the midwest.*** So in preparation for the coming school year,**** I set out to de-tarnish my extensive collection of sterling silver festoonosity. Step one was to locate my nifty little kit that claims it



But alas, the kit seems to have disappeared during my move. Now, I don’t know if this metal-plate-and-washing-soda kit really works electrolytically, or what electrolytically really means, or even if electrolytically is really a word in the Queen’s English.***** But I do know the plates work and that I can’t find mine.

Before driving down to check out the electrolytical offerings at Wal-Mart, however, I hopped on my friend the Internet, where I found, on a site called "How to Clean Anything," an at-home recipe for jewelry cleaning in the electrolytic vein. And damn, it actually works!

Here’s what you do: In a non-aluminum pan (I used a corningware pie plate), place a sheet of aluminum foil. Set your silver atop the foil (I cleaned 2 bangle bracelets and 3 pairs of earrings at one go). Sprinkle 2 TBS baking soda****** and 1 TBS salt over the jewelry. Fill the pan with boiling water.

I could see the bracelets shining up even as I was still pouring in the water. After 5 minutes, I used tongs to remove the pieces and rubbed a little shine into them with a terry dishcloth. They looked fantastic.  Better than the metal plate method, even, because that cleans the jewelry so thoroughly that it looks like tinfoil until it re-acquires enough tarnish to add some character (and what’s sexier than a woman draped in little bits of tinfoil?). The aluminum foil method left a little character behind.

So now, having shared this home tip with you, I’m off to eat a well-deserved lunch and de-tarnish some more jewelry. I feel just like freaking Heloise.

*And my birthday is 8-24, just in case you’re wondering and live near, say, a good jewelry store…..

**As do young love, old dreams, and most of my vows to eat less junk food and exercise more.

***As have my vows to eat less junk food and exercise more.

****I can’t write the syllabi for my courses until my jewelry is clean!

*****Electrolytically sounds like a word in the President’s English, in which case it probably denotes the function of those new computerized voting machines — the electrolytical process (try saying it with a Texas twang).

******Riding your bike across town to buy the baking soda is optional, but I am feeling pretty darn virtuous about that right now.


3 responses »

  1. You’re scaring me. I think it’s time for you to come *home.* The humidity is doing bad things to you.

    Though I suppose if anyone would, *you* would look lovely in bits of tinfoil. Insane, but lovely.

  2. This is the first hint to your readers that, way back in time, you were credentialled as a home economist. What’s next? How to pack a nutritious lunch? Or repair laddered hosiery? I await with chills.

    Actually, the tip works. As the recipient of your discarded teeny tiny silver jewelry, I thank you for the household hint.


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