It’s a common occurrence for silver coins and bars to discolour over time. This discolouration is known as tarnish. Anyone who has invested in silver may experience this with their silver coins and bars at some point and worry if it’s a good or bad sign. In this blog, we’ll discuss the reasons behind the discolouration of your silver and how you can take preventive measures.
What is Tarnish?
The chemical reaction that occurs when silver is exposed to air, humidity and pollution is known as tarnish. The silver atoms encounter the oxygen and hydrogen sulfide in the air to produce silver oxide which forms a layer on top of the silver. This makes the silver appear discoloured and darker. Tarnish, however, doesn’t affect the silver in any way other than its appearance. The process can be slower or faster depending on the quality of the finishing of the coin.
How to Remove Tarnish from Your Silver Coins and Bars?
There are some simple methods of cleaning tarnish off your silver coins and bars.
- Cleaning Silver Coins
- Use commercially available silver coin cleaner or silver polish to clean your silver coins. Put a few drops of the solution on a soft cloth and rub the coin with it. Clean both sides of the coin and within a few minutes of rubbing, you can get back the lost shine and lustre of your coin.
Alternatively, you can also take a small amount of silver coin cleaning solution, swish your coin in it for a few seconds and then rinse it well with water. Wipe it dry with a clean cloth.
2.Another method of cleaning involves a DIY solution of water and baking soda. In a small container, mix water and baking soda to make a watery paste. Dip the coin in this paste and rub both of its sides for at least a minute with the help of your thumb and index finger. Then rinse with water and wipe it dry. You may need to repeat the process 3 or 4 times to remove the tarnish.
- Cleaning Silver Bars
You can clean your silver bars in the same way, using a commercial cleaning solution. However, there’s another low-cost effective way. Take a pan and place aluminium foil on it. Keep the shiny side up. On this foil add a cup of boiling water. The aluminium foil will float on the water. Stir in about a tablespoon of baking soda. You may add some more hot water as it works better at a higher temperature. Next, place your silver bar on the aluminium foil for a minute. Then flip the bar to clean its opposite side. The tarnish will be gone and you’ll see instant results.
How to Prevent Tarnish in the Future?
Store your silver coins and bars in plastic bags as this’ll limit their exposure to the air. You can also store silver in air-tight containers, coin holders or hermetically sealed chambers. Avoid places that are too humid. Also, don’t handle your silver coins and bars with your bare hands as oil and dirt can stain them. Wear cotton or latex gloves when handling them.
Don’t worry too much about tarnished silver coins and bars. It doesn’t affect the value of your silver. However, if you want to clean the tarnish because of aesthetic preference, do so carefully. When using silver polish or commercial silver cleaners, if you use the solution for too long, it can erode the finish of the coin along with the tarnish. Also, it’s better if you don’t attempt to clean your numismatic silver coins as it can lessen the value of the rare coin.
If you’re not sure whether you should clean the tarnish off your silver coins or not, visit a local silver coin dealer for advice.