Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CLEANING SILVER

Cleaning Siver


From an email: "How can I get the tops off sterling silver salt and pepper shakers? They still have some salt and pepper in them."

We suggest soaking them in hot water to see if it disolves the dried salt or pepper. Of course twist the tops with as much force as you can. But we doubt if that will work because the top is probably held on by corrosion, not dried salt. Anyone have a tip that solves this problem?

We can give other silver cleaning tips: never store silver by wrapping it in plastic cling wrap. It causes discolorations and tarnish. Take off your rings before you start to clean. Jewelry may scratch the silver.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am sure you or others might scream at this suggestion, but try some WD-40 spray lubricant in the opening and let it sit for a few minutes. If it can get old rusty nuts and bolts to move, it may be okay on the silver threads, too.
It will soak off in warm sudsy water, if you are worried about re-using the piece as it was intended.
Hope it helps.

Andy said...

I agree with the hot-water soaking strategy -- in fact, leave them soaking overnight if necessary -- but after that, the key is to get a good grip on the piece before you start twisting, and no, I'm not going to suggest pliers. My preferred technique, which seems to work well on any tight-fitting lid, is to hold it with a wet washcloth or small piece of wet towel in each hand. Gripping it that way, via wet cloth, squeezes all the air out from between the object and your hands, thus giving you a solid grip and transmitting maximum force to the cover, cap or lid that you're trying to twist off. Try that, and good luck...

Anonymous said...

The best way to eliminate corrosion is to cover the salt shaker with baking soda and then pour vinegar over it. The chemical reaction will loosen any corrosion and you should be able to remove the cap.

Charyl from Antiques of Barrington, NJ said...

I do know that 1 part vinegar and 3parts water is the best solution for dissolving rust from metal. Perhaps you could try this, but check it every hour and try to open the shakers each time, since I do not know if it will damage them. If you have a sterling piece that is damaged, you may want to see what effect it has on this first.

Lynn said...

I had that exact problem and we used Lime Away and soaked them. Worked like a charm!

Anonymous said...

Put them in a glass bowl with water and drop an Alka seltzer in it. Then watch the bubbles do the work.

Anonymous said...

Try using WD40 around the base of the cap (turn the shaker upside down) WD40 is made from fish oil and it might loosen the cap. Wash thoroughly after removing the cap. Also let it sit a while to penetrate then gently try to twist the cap off use a paper towel or cloth towel to give you good grip

Anonymous said...

One more possibility . . . dissolve a few spoonfuls of baking soda in water using a GREASE FREE aluminum pan. Touch the silver to the pan while it is submerged in the solution. This will remove any sulfides which might be the cause of the "sticking". The solution will remove all patina, so you must be careful what silver items you clean with it!

Anonymous said...

I like your idea of soaking them.
But if soaking doesn't do the trick, try a drop or two of "Wrench-free", a product that is used to loosen bolts that are rusted/corroded. Put the S&P upside down (in a small Tupperware dish works for me), put a couple of drops on each, let it stand several hours (or overnight) and you should be able to remove the tops.
Good Luck!

Ed said...

Might try chilling/freezing (non-liquid) containers to change metal size; lids might become larger, containers smaller. Chill!

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the tops of the S&P shakers, but one of the best silver cleaners I know of is cheap toothpaste!
Sophie

Carolyn said...

Use cooking oil or preferably baby oil -- rub the entire top (around glass, etc.) Use a "top grabber (rubber cloth) to gently twist. Keep working it, heat with very hot water as an aid to the process. When you are finished, rub a little oil around the glass; put top back on GENTLY . If stored, do not put on top, but attach with a string, so you don't lose it!

Lynda said...

I use Sewingmashine Oil, just place a drop or to as close to the lid as you can, let it sit for c. 15 Min and it should loosen easy then. Clean it up with some dish washing fluid and rinse, then polish with your silverpolish.
Hope you get it working, sincerely Lynda

Anonymous said...

I have had this problem as well. Using Vinegar as suggested (without the baking soda, since they neutralize each other - you want the vinegar to work on the corrosion, not create a lot of fizz counteracting the baking soda) is effective, but you do need to check to make sure you don't leave too long and it starts to pit the silver (also, I would not use it on silverplate). Liquid Wrench in my experience is much more effective than WD-40, although neither will damage your silver. If the corrosion is mild, then soaking in warm soapy water will probably do the trick. Start with the methods that have the least potential to damage the silver and then try the more severe methods if that doesn't work. As for using toothpaste to clean silver, it can be quite effective for cleaning heavily tarnished pieces on a one-time basis, but I would never use it for regular cleaning (it is too abrasive and will remove a lot of silver from both plated and sterling items if used regularly).

mensa63 said...

Agree with the WD-40 idea it worked for me and also on a sugar bowl whose top was stuck and soaking didn't do the trick.

Anonymous said...

The previously suggested methods may be effective, however, if your object has historical or antique value, the only completely safe approach to loosening parts joined by corrosion is to soak the object for a month in olive oil. This is the method used by conservators to loosen corrosion on ancient metal artifacts.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I have encountered a ticklish cleaning problem I always give Polident a try. Its wonderful on stained china and glass and from what I can tell just about everything thats non-absorbant. Those tablets have performed miricles for me. Give em a try...just let it soak.

Anonymous said...

I learned the hard way that boiled egg water will tarnish silver. After pouring off the hot water, I refilled the pot with cold and submerged my bracelet each time I grabbed an egg. It was black when I finished and I think I'm going to have to take it to a jeweler to bring back its shine. I have since learned that folks intentionally use this method to tarnish silver jewelry to make it look older. I can attest that it works.

Anonymous said...

PB Power Blaster Breaks Loose Faster is what it's called. You can get it at Advance Discount Auto Parts or other auto parts stores may carry it, or, you may be able to order it online. Works like a charm on a lot of things! That's what I would recommend. It's better than WD-40 in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Try using Avon "Skin so Soft" bath oil. It will disolve the corrosion. It is also good for removing stick residue that is left from stickers, price tags, etc.

Anonymous said...

When soaking be careful about the paint on the item... My mother "washed" a few salt and pepper shakers a few years ago... what was once a cute pair of pigs... one in blue and one in pink... is now just a pair of plain white glass pigs... the paint wiped right off... also any paper labels on the bottoms will come off or disintegrate in water...

Cliff Oswald said...

While watching the Discovery channel I learned that we all tend to go about opening tight lids the wrong way.
Instead of grasping the top from both sides, squeezing hard and attempting to turn, try placing most of the pressure on one side and doing only the turning from the opposite side, thus allowing the one-sided pressure to loosen on the opposite side. On stubborn tops, repeat the action a quarter turn at a time. The lid is always slightly larger than the bottle and the one-sided pressure allows the metal to warp away from the bottle.
You will be amazed at how well this works.

Anonymous said...

I had the same problem with a pair of sterling S & P shakers, no glass liner. Soaked in vinegar. Worked like a charm.

Belinda said...

Belinda said: My suggestion is to ask a plumber; they work with a lot of anti corrosives and they know a lot about electrical transfer and corrosion between diffent kinds of metal. Another suggest would be to take it to the hardware store and ask. Make sure that the clerk/salesperson knows their stuff. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I use olive oil to do a lot of things - lubricating the lids with this is a good way to go. Another use for olive oil is to remove sticky stuff from metal. My husband somehow got roofing tar on our stainless steel refrigerator door - olive oil cleaned it right off!

Anonymous said...

First take a sheet of foil about one foot long. Place the items to be cleaned on top of the foil, cover heavily with baking soda. When that is done, pour about 1 cup of vinegar on the items covered with soda. Should work wonders. Also, another trick for silverware or sterling jewelry is to place regular childrens sticks of chalk into the silverware box, or your jewelry box after cleaning. Keeps the tarnish away forever!!!

Anonymous said...

Since I use vinegar for so many things I'd like to try it with a small copper shaker I have...anyone think I shouldn't....I also might try the olive oil, which might be a safer bet....??

G. Rabbitt said...

To the person who says that the main ingredient in WD40 is Fish Oil is wrong. It is a petroleum based oil, known as Stoddard Solvent. While the WD may work for removing the cap on the shaker, make sure you wash completely before use. Another product that eats away rust and corrosion on bolts and nuts is Liquid Wrench. Let it soak for a while. Try to move the cap ever so slightly at first, and not all at once. Little by little, it will loosen.
Good luck!

http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/household/wd-40.asp

Anonymous said...

To the person who says that the main ingredient in WD40 is Fish Oil is wrong. It is a petroleum based oil, known as Stoddard Solvent. While the Wd may work for removing the cap on the shaper, make sure you wash completely before use. Another product that eats away rust and corrosion on bolts and nuts is Liquid Wrench. Let it soak for a while. Try to move the cap ever so slightly at first, and not all at once. Little by little, it will loosen.
Good luck!