Name: Elaine H.
Is there anything I can put in a velvet-lined drawer to prevent the silver I store
there from tarnishing?
While the question is "chemical" a more authoritative answer would probably be found out from a
jeweler, or manufacturer of Sterling silver.
Usually what is called tarnish in silver objects is due to reactions between the silver metal
with several gases present at the atmosphere and water ( humidity) including even the oxygen
and also some polluting sulphide gases. The Oxygen and the Sulphide gases readily combine with
Silver and Copper (many times present also) to form Oxides and Sulphides, that have a black or
dark grey colour. So the main thing is to prevent the contact between silver objects and the
air (and humidity of course!) Try not to use polythene bags for storage, especially the
'gripper' type as they trap gases inside and create a greenhouse type environment, which is
particularly good at creating tarnish. So try to keep your silver objects as dry as possible
and the cabinet where you keep them as far as possible free from air.
You can use absorbers as active charcoal and/or silica gel or some commercial products
directed to prevent tarnish.
There are also some commercial lacquers or sprays that cover the metal surface preventing
contact with the air but unhappily these sometimes make them to look dull.
Apart from that the best way to keep silver (or silver plated objects) clean and bright
would be clean them periodically with some product that will remove the ugly oxidation
Thanks for asking NEWTON!
(Dr. Mabel Rodrigues)
I do not know if the velvet has chemicals in it to prevent or encourage tarnish. You can buy
anti-tarnish strips to place on the velvet. I have used these. I have also wrapped silver in
plastic and sealed out air as much as possible--this has done wonders to cut tarnish, although
I do not really know if the plastic itself will do long-term damage. I have often wondered if
I should try to find acid-free archival quality plastic. It is not as pretty, but I have kept
pieces wrapped for a couple of years with little tarnish to clean.
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Update: June 2012