View Full Version : Why Does My Silver Tarnish So Quickly?

02-05-2000, 11:11 PM
Okay, okay. I know that silver tarnishes. But why does it tarnish so quickly on ME?

I can put in a freshly polished pair of earrings in the morning and by the time I get home, they're already dingy. Within 3 days, they're black. This, quite frankly, bites my ass.

Through my extremely informal surveying, I have found that NOBODY has the power to tarnish with velocity that I do.


02-06-2000, 03:37 AM
I'll just quote this from the following site: http://www.silverthyme.com/

Silver is tarnished by sulfur-containing materials, particularly hydrogen sulfide (H2S). The most common tarnish-causing elements are wool, felt, food (eggs, onions), rubber bands, latex gloves, and certain paints. Tarnish is accelerated in a humid environment.

Well, I guess you ought to check the environment where you're storing your earrings...

02-06-2000, 11:10 AM
I store them on my body. So I suppose I might make that leap and presume that wearing them 24/7 (and, thus, in the shower) exposes them to more-than-usual humidity.

But there are lots of people who never take out their earrings, said people were included in my non-scientific sampling.

Ahh, there's something about Melatonin. Maybe I'm highly sulfuric?

02-06-2000, 11:12 AM
Store in a sealed plastic bag after cleaning.

02-06-2000, 01:17 PM
Okay, maybe I'm being obstinate, but:

a) This has *got* to be at least my 315th post, and

b) I *wear* them. The problem is not that they tarnish in the drawer, the problem is that they tarnish In My Ears. And that they do so within 12 hours of putting them in.

I don't think this is a problem which can actually be *solved*, I just wanna know what it is about me that tarnishes earrings with such astounding speed.

02-06-2000, 02:10 PM
Well, it can't be the melatonin - that's an anti-oxidant.

Could it be something you're using on your hair that is speeding up the tarnish? A dandruff shampoo? (don't mean to pry).

Could it be your environment? Are you surrounded by fish tanks all day? Do you work at a car wash?

I do think it's an interesting problem - my experience with silver is exactly the opposite. If I wear it constantly, it doesn't seem to tarnish at all.

02-06-2000, 03:19 PM
Not my environment- I've had this problem for years, living in Florida, Russia, and now Ohio. I work in the office/classroom/library.

I was going to blame it on various and sundry toiletries, but I have no concept of brand loyalty, so the stuff I use to wash my face/hair/body changes whenever something goes on sale or is promoted through junk-mail samples.

If you'd like to send me some of your jewelry, I can tarnish it for you instantly for a small fee, plus S/H.

02-06-2000, 04:03 PM
It's not much of a marketable skill, is it?

Well, how about the food you eat? Looking around the web, I read that sulphur is sometimes used as a preservative. "Those most likely to contain sulfur-based preservatives include grapes, wine, potatoes, and dried fruits."

Perhaps you should avoid things like the Dr. Wagstaff All-Wine-and-Potato Diet (lose pounds while tarnishing your silver!).

And there's always white gold.

02-06-2000, 05:40 PM
Put a plastic bag around your head.

Actually you probably have a lot of salt in your sweat or something.

02-10-2000, 02:38 AM
I have no idea how to keep the silver from tarnishing while you're wearing it... I do know that certain body chemistries can cause a reaction on your skin (sterling silver ring on finger when removed = greenish ring on finger still).

But, if you're interested in greatly retarding the tarnishing process of silver while it's in storage, store it with a piece of chalk or a piece of limestone from a driveway. The calcium carbonate bonds with the sulfer before it (the sulfer) has a chance to bond with the silver.

"If we submit everything to reason, our religion will have no mysterious or supernatural element. If we offend the principles of reason, our religion will be absurd and ridiculous." Blaise Pascal

02-10-2000, 08:10 AM
A friend of ours once left rusty fingerprints on my stainless steel pistol. He ate garlic like it was going out of style, and I always assumed the high sulfur content was to blame.

There's a medical condition that causes strange sweat chemistry -- I think it has something to do with zinc, but can't find it yet.

02-10-2000, 03:27 PM
Look on the bright side, melatonin.

You help keep the makers of Tarn-X in business!

02-10-2000, 04:09 PM

IIRC sweat does contain Sulfuric acid. Maybe yours contains higher levels than most people. Or maybe your ears sweat more...


"Mother Mercy, can your loins bear fruit forever?/Is your fecundity a trammel or a treasure?"
-Bad Religion

02-10-2000, 05:43 PM
Well, I have pretty much eliminated the possibility that the tarnishing is related to toiletries in anyway. I don't use hairspray or makeup or any sort of crap like that. Also, I generally wear my hair UP anyway. . .

Maybe I do have highly sulfuric sweat, but. . . Wouldn't that make me smell like a boiled egg? And wouldn't SOMEONE have taken it upon themselves to mention this to me sometime in the past 24 years?

Maybe it's the zinc. . .

Just an update for you. The earrings have been in for about 3 days. And they're already dark grey.

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
02-10-2000, 06:09 PM
Originally posted by Melatonin:
Okay, okay. I know that silver tarnishes. But why does it tarnish so quickly on ME?

It's your moral bankruptcy that's to blame, Mel.

<BLINK>REPENT! REPENT!</BLINK> The End Is Near! (And so is the beginning, if the Hindi faith is right about it!) :p :D :p :D

With magic, you can turn a frog into a prince. With science, you can turn a frog into a Ph.D, and you still have the frog you started with.

02-10-2000, 07:35 PM
This isn't exactly expert advice, but maybe some WD-40 would solve your problem. It's done wonders on just about every piece of metal I've ever worked with, and I wouldn't be surprised if two puffs would save your silver for the next 10 years :)

02-10-2000, 08:55 PM
What exactly do you mean about the WD-40?

That doesn't seem like something I'd want in close prolonged contact with my skin.

02-11-2000, 12:30 AM
I think the proper course would be to insulate the metal from your body.

A light dab of corn oil on the earings could help protect them.

Zor mentioned wool in his list of culprits. I'd guess your hair rather than your skin is the prime candidate. Maybe a light spritz of hair spray in the area likely to contact the metal?

Just thinking out loud. Hope it helps.

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