Gardening, Cooking and Decorating on the Prairie of Kansas

Welcome to Linderhof, our 1920's home on the prairie, where there's usually something in the oven, flowers in the garden for tabletops and herbs in the garden for cooking. Where, when company comes, the teapot is always on and there are cookies and cakes to share in the larder.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Lazy Woman's Guide to Silver Polishing

I do like polishing silver -- there's something therapeutic about it, I think.    And last year, when I had my knee surgery, it was my "Occupational Therapy" -- polishing the napkin rings.      With a Bach or Mozart CD on and the house quiet -- it's one of those "home keeping" chores that I really do like to do, but . . .

At times, I'm in a hurry and don't really have time to sit and polish so . . . I resort to another method.

The aluminum and soda method.      They even sell aluminum plates that you put in a pan, add the "magic powder" that comes with the plate (and which you can reorder from their company)!     It's easy, aluminum, boiling water and soda.

But thanks to Cass At That Old House I now use one of those big aluminum steam table pans that you can buy at any grocery store or Costco or Sams.     The pan is perfect and when not in use, it and the box of soda go back to a shelf in the basement!

But as did Cass, so will I, warn you about polishing silver this way.    The patina (the darkened bits that define a pattern) is done away with when you use this method.    The silver is shiny and looks like new!   That patina, however, will come back if you neglect your silver for a while so it's not gone for good!!!!   And it does seem to tarnish faster for there is nothing that "retards" tarnish (for most silver polish has an anti-tarnish ingredient in it!)

But if you need shining silver and need it fast and don't care about patina -- this method is for you!!!

And thanks to Cass, I heartily recommend the aluminum pan!!!!

I use Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda -- it's found in the Detergent Aisle and every grocery store carries it!
Cass uses Baking Soda -- found in the baking aisle -- it may be cheaper than what I use!

The silver, after it's soda bath, all clean, dry and shining!

There are some pieces I prefer to do by hand -- these English pieces with Mother-of-Pearl handles!    The polish of choice -- Maas which I can find in my little town on the prairie (thank you Chris at Mayco Ace!)

The reason for the silver polishing?    I did a program in the little town East of me for a ladies group.    A program on Victorian Silver Serving Pieces.  

The pieces tagged and ready for their "show" -- As I talk, I pass the silver around so that each one can see each piece of silver up close and personal!!!     It's interesting that Victorians had a piece of silver to serve everything with -- from a wee lemon fork to a huge asparagus fork and spoons, knives and forks in between!

It's a fun program to give and the ladies seem to like it!

And at a lady's meeting, after the program is always a treat . . .

And in my honor (of time spent in England), the treats are scones -- cranberry and nut scones!     They were delicious with a cup of freshly brewed coffee!

It was a fun night!

By the way, Cass, even though I stole your way to polish silver, I didn't steal the title of your post -- I changed it up a bit!!!!


Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

I may have to try that! I have so much silver and it seems I get behind on my polishing. Thanks!

Blondie's Journal said...

I have heard of this method, Martha, but I don't know how much of the baking soda and water to use. Are there any directions you can give?


Cass @ That Old House said...

Oh Martha, steal away! Spread the word about this polishing method. I nearly had a fit when I saw those pieces with the bone handles! thank goodness you mentioned that you did NOT polish those in the aluminum pan!

I'd have had to call the authorities, and become their guardian if that had been the case.

I just took off 8 hinges from the butler's tray table -- 64 screws! -- and need to polish them and no brass polish in the house.
I'll try lemon and salt, and then ketchup, and see how they work.

Can't hurt!
Thanks for the link. We need to talk!

Pondside said...

I use this method for emergency polishing too, but have found that the aluminum pan is so black that I don't like to keep it around. It's worth the convenience to buy a bundle of them - perhaps a tad wasteful, but this is for emergencies!

Meredith said...

I've never heard of this and I need to polish a LOT of silver before the holidays. I'm going to try this soon!

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

And you have to be careful with pouring boiling water over some of those bone or ivory handles, or even silver ones connected with those old glues.

On Crooked Creek said...

Thanks for the tip!!! I'll file away for a day when I'm in a hurry. I was taught the "old fashioned" way...polish away. I enjoy polishing silver. Think since it's all heirlooms it brings me close to those who gave it to me!

Sandra Henderson said...

We use squares of campjor ( probably need your pharmacist to order it) in our china cabinet, silver drawers,etc. Makes a huge difference in length of time before tarnish builds up so thst i cant stand it anymore