For many, part of the holiday rituals is cleaning silver before the feasts, and I can honestly say I've never met anyone who has said they like doing it. We all love the shiny results but getting there is brutal. Enter big sister Pam with a process that sounds quick and easy.
"Use a roasting pan, lined with aluminum foil. Boil water and pour into the pan, add baking soda (¼ cup or more), dump in silver in a single layer and POOF, all clean."
Peter and I happen to have inherited oodles of silver - flatware, serving platters and bowls, wine buckets, commemorative dishes, etc., so we decided to try out this "Fast in, fast out process."
The bottom line is this does work but it is work too. Not as much as using silver polish, but there's still an effort. The two critical keys to the success of this process are:
- the silver must be touching the aluminum foil as much as possible, and
- BOILING water.
We filled several large stock pots and a tea kettle full of water and got them all boiling. We bought an industrial size box (4 pounds) of baking soda and a large roll of aluminum foil. You can't skimp on the latter as the process involves the transfer of all that tarnish to the foil, thus the reason why it needs to be touching as much of the silver as possible. We also found using a large "soft" aluminum roasting pan (14" x 20"), the kind you buy at the grocery store, helped a lot.
Peter lined the pan with foil, add the flatware in one layer, sprinkled them liberally with baking soda, and then did it again, foil on top of the first layer, a single layer of flatware, lots of baking soda and another piece of foil. He did as many as three layers, always ending in foil. Then, CAREFULLY pour in the boiling water. If you wear glasses they will steam up and you'll be blind so please BE CAREFUL. Completely cover the pan's contents with boiling water and then listen to the fizzing sound, that's the process at work. You may also detect an odd oder ... it's all part of the process.
Let it set about 10-15 minutes, after which remove the top layer with tongs and rinse it with clean hot water and then buff dry with a clean, soft cloth. Some residual tarnish will come off at this point. Continue removing the contents layer by layer with tongs, repeating the rinse and buff process.
For tall pieces, we found using a large, deep bucket worked nicely, lining it with foil and then stuffing crumpled pieces of foil in and around the the pieces so foil was touching as much silver surface as possible.
As you can see it works, and it works very well but you do have to buff each piece to remove any residual tarnish.
Polishing silver is still work, but this expedites the process, so you can get back to celebrating the holidays.