If you think taking care of sterling is an arduous process, think again: Washing silver with soap and water every two to three months is the best way to care for it. Chatelaine's Antiques Collectibles Appraisals

 

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Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals Magazine > Decorative Arts > Expert Tip: Cleaning EPNS Silver
 


Cleaning Silver

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Caring for EPNS

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CARING FOR EPNS


Electro Plated Nickel Silver

A little soap and water keeps your silver clean

A little soap and water keeps your silver clean

CARING FOR EPNS

 Whether you have a canteen of silver cutlery or bowls or other ornaments in EPNS, careful cleaning and regular polishing will ensure they look their best.

There are three basic types of Silver: solid or sterling silver (actually usually about 93 per cent pure, as silver is too soft to be worked by itself); Sheffield plate; and electroplated nickel silver (EPNS).

 Sheffield plate was invented in about 1742 as a cheap substitute for solid silver and was made by fusing a thin sheet of silver to of sheet of copper and rolling thin.

 EPNS, or silver plate as it is also known, replaced Sheffield plate in the mid-19th century.

 It is formed by depositing a thin layer of pure silver on a base of copper or nickel by the process of electrolysis.

 It is generally thought to have a brighter, harsher hue than Sheffield plate.

 Unlike gold and platinum, silver is highly susceptible to tarnishing, a form of metal corrosion caused by a chemical reaction with sulphur, which is present in the atmosphere and in some foods.

 Among these are fish, eggs, olives, salad dressings and green vegetables (especially peas), all of which include sulphuric gases.

 Never leave cutlery or any silver container in contact with foodstuffs for longer than necessary, and wash them as soon as possible.

 Dry silver immediately after washing to prevent it being marked by hard water salts.

PREVENTING TARNISH

 Even if you always wash and dry quickly and carefully, silver will still tarnish gradually because of the sulphur in the atmosphere.

 You can guard against this by using a cream silver polish, which cleans, polishes and protects against airborne sulphur.

Sheffield plate and EPNS require more careful handling than sterling silver, as the thin layer of silver can be worn away by over-enthusiastic cleaning.

 On the whole, however, tarnishing causes more damage than polishing can ever do.

 Modern polishes are generally less abrasive than traditional methods, and contain jeweller's rouge as well as oils and soaps to act as lubricants. Plain EPNS can be cleaned with a cream silver polish, and more ornate pieces by using a silver polish with sponge applicator.

 Extreme tarnish can be removed by painting on an electro-chemical dip (but do not immerse EPNS objects in the dip this should only be done with sterling silver).

 Never leave the dip on the surface of the silver for more than a few minutes at a time - rinse off if necessary.

 Other forms of corrosion found on silver and FPNS include verdigris and black spot. Verdigris is a green stain; it can he removed by painting on a solution of one part citric acid to five parts water.

 Black spot corrosion is caused by prolonged contact with salt and must be removed professionally by a silversmith.

 

 

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