Safe and Easy Way to Clean Jewellery

By Tiffany - Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I had a nice bracelet I wanted to clean, but did not want to do it with any harsh chemicals. I also wanted to see if I could do it using stuff around the house.

Turns out that brass tarnish can be removed with good old vinegar (or other acid, such as lemon juice) and salt. Using a small bowl, I submerged my bracelet in about 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 tsp salt.

I let it sit for an hour (doesn't have to be that long, but my jewellery was pretty bad) and then carefully emptied the vinegar/salt mixture. Some of the small fake pearls came loose and I did not want to pour them down the drain.

I then filled the bowl with water and added a teaspoon of baking soda to stop the reaction.

I didn't take before or after pictures, but the brass tarnish was almost all gone. A little scrubbing got rid of the rest of it. Now, I just have to glue on the little pearls that became loose.

I know that this will work with copper and brass. I'm not sure about other metals, so you may want to try it on a little non-visible part of your jewellery before you do the whole piece.

As to how this works, I am weak on my high school chemistry, but I believe that vinegar reacts with the oxide coated metal to form a gas (hydrogen?) leaving a original metal finish behind. The salt (ions) helps speed up the reaction. If there are any chemists out there, feel free to correct me and leave a better description of what is happening.

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