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Thread: tarnish removal with aluminum foil method

  1. #1

    tarnish removal with aluminum foil method

    A few months ago, Doug Elliott posted over on the Trombone Chat Forum about how to remove tarnish from silver plated mouthpieces by putting them in a a pan with aluminum foil and a solution of vinegar, salt and baking soda and hot water. When the silver plated mp is touching the foil, the tarnish would be removed from the mp without removing any silver plate.

    My wife decided today to finally clean some silver plate she inherited from her Mom and grandmother and I found a number of variations on this method. Apparently its a widely used home cleaning method. We used it and it worked very well, saving hours of polishing. Only a little touch up was required with silver polish.

    I was wondering if anyone has ever tried this for a whole instrument. It would require a fair amount of solution to cover a 11 1/2 inch bell, but the same tub I do my cleaning in would likely work as long as the bottom was lined with enough foil so that it was in contact with the instrument.

    I also am wondering if the stainless steel valves should be handled differently, since I have no idea what the solution would do to SS.

    Just wondered if anyone has ever tried this.

  2. #2
    John,

    I shared this with my wife, who knows things, unlike me, and she said she had heard about this method in "Hints From Heloise" just recently. I had a Wessex tuba sitting out in my music room for ages, and just recently decided to put it away in its case. When I pulled the mouthpiece out, it was two tone, the part in the receiver looked normal, and the part out in the air was totally tarnished. I did not polish it when I put it away, but you now have me curious. I want to try this for my mouthpiece. Do you know the proper proportions for the magical solution? And just set the mouthpiece in the solution on top of the aluminum foil? As soon as I know the right mixture, I will try it on the mouthpiece and report back.

    News Flash!! As I was writing this, my wife retrieved the newspaper from Friday, May 8th, and the "Hints From Heloise" column said: Line bottom of pan with aluminum foil, pour in two quarts of boiling water and two teaspoons of baking soda. Put silver on top of foil, completely submerged in the solution. The tarnish will disappear. Rinse well and buff dry. Don't use on antique or heirloom silver plated items.

    As for horns, not sure about the boiling water aspect. I would be a little nervous with that. But for my mouthpiece, no worries.

    My wife, who knows things, says just about anything with vinegar / baking soda combination with water seems to work real well.

    I am going to try the "Hints From Heloise" method now. Will report later.
    Last edited by John Morgan; 05-11-2020 at 11:44 PM.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  3. #3
    Okey-dokey, the method with boiling water, baking soda and aluminum lined pan worked great on my tuba mouthpiece. And something that I didn't expect, although should have, is when you take the mouthpiece out and wipe it down, no black stuff on the rag or your hands like you get from silver polish. My wife, who knows things, says if you don't want to use boiling water, use the method described by John the Theologian above with vinegar, salt, baking soda and hot water.

    So I don't know how this would work on silver plated horns. I really don't have any to try it on. Would need a pretty good sized thing to put the solution in if you have to have the item totally submerged... If it did work, sure would be a lot simpler than having to polish the horn and get in all the nooks and crannies.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  4. I can't remember the exact chemical reactions that are occurring, but basically the tarnish/oxidation is being taken off the silver and onto the aluminum foil if I recall correctly. (Hence why if you look at the foil after you're done, you'll probably notice some discoloration particularly around the water line.

    I've used this method with hot water and baking soda for awhile with good results, mainly on my mouthpieces and occasionally when cleaning my euphonium I'll use the same method with the parts that are silver plated, solid machined brass (valve caps/bottoms, and buttons). Works really well for getting into the little grooves/ridges of those parts, which can be a pain to use polish on!

    I would be wary of using this on any parts of a horn that isn't silver or silverplate, as I think this method is specific to silver. (Again having to do with the chemistry that I'm admittedly not as familiar with as I would like!)
    Willson 2900 TA-1 Euphonium - Denis Wick 4AM
    Yamaha YSL-643 Trombone - Benge Marcellus
    F.E. Olds Special Trombone (ca. 1941) - Faxx 7C

    Past:
    York Preference 3067 Euphonium - Denis Wick 4AL
    Benge 165F Trombone - Benge Marcellus
    Wessex BR140 Baritone - Denis Wick 6BS

  5. #5
    I also cleaned all my mps with this method and it worked very well. We didn't actually use boiling water, only very hot water from the tap and we weren't really precise in our measurements of the other materials in the solution. The only trick is that the silver plated object must be in contact with the foil at some place to work. Just having foil on the bottom of the pan and resting the object on top of works fine.

    We only used very hot water from the tap, not boiling water. I don't know if actual boiling water would improve the effectiveness of the solution.

    The real test was a very tarnished silver tray that my wife had. We could only fit part of it in the solution at a time, but we could watch the tarnish magically disappear and it saved us a lot of time in polishing. We did a little bit of polishing to a final shine.

    I still am wondering if it could be used on the rest of a horn, with the possible exception of the stainless steel valves.

    I found various versions of the formula online, but here are a couple.

    https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how...-silver-131048

    https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cle...-kitchn-216832
    Last edited by John the Theologian; 05-12-2020 at 09:10 AM.

  6. #6
    https://www.compoundchem.com/2013/12...arnish-silver/

    An explanation of the electrochemical process that happens when you do that.

    I tried the same thing a few days back on my old mouthpieces. I was definitely surprised by the result!
    "Never over complicate things. Accept "bad" days. Always enjoy yourself when playing, love the sound we can make on our instruments (because that's why we all started playing the Euph)"

    Euph: Yamaha 642II Neo - 千歌音
    Mouthpiece: K&G 4D, Denis Wick 5AL

    https://soundcloud.com/ashsparkle_chika
    https://www.youtube.com/user/AshTSparkle/

  7. #7
    Anyone ready to be a guinea pig and try it on a whole horn. Maybe someone has an old silver plated trumpet that would be easier to experiment with.

    Sure would be interested if it works on a whole horn.

  8. Since it's an electro chemical process, it should be able to do a whole horn, as long as you include enough aluminum. The water also needs to be HOT, or else the reaction is slow to non existent, but that can cause issues in and of itself.

    If you add vinegar, it's not really the same thing, as the acid will attack the sulfides and remove them. The electrochemical method actually changes the tarnish back into silver.
    Sterling / Perantucci 1065HGS Euphonium, Yamaha YBB-631S BBb Tuba, and a bunch of trombones.

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