Baking soda can be used to clean silver pieces quite easily. Although this method may not be as gentle as a commercial paste silver cleaner, it works quite well in a pinch! Make a paste using baking soda and water. Rub the paste on silver pieces and then put them onto a sheet of aluminum foil in a pan. Add two or three inches of water to the pan and allow your silver pieces to sit overnight, then rinse. The tarnish will be mostly gone, but any remaining darkness can be rubbed off easily with a terry cloth towel. Some recipes call for the addition of 1/4 cup of Tide powdered laundry detergent to this technique.
Another method of silver removal using baking soda is to place a sheet of aluminum foil in the bottom of a large kettle. Add several inches of water along with 1 tsp. of baking soda and 1 tsp. of salt. Add silver pieces and bring the water to a boil. Be sure the water covers the silver pieces completely. After boiling for 2 -3 minutes, remove the silver, rinse, and dry. This method works well for cleaning hard to reach crevices.
Great-great-grandmother's silver that is a priceless family heirloom may not endure this method of cleaning. Be sure to test a spot first, as the salt and baking soda solution may damage fragile silver-plate. I've used this method, though, on pieces of silver that were not responding well to a cleaning with commercial tarnish remover and the silver shined up so well with this technique.
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