Silver Polish Cloths

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Trumpet Dreamer, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. Trumpet Dreamer

    Trumpet Dreamer Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2010
    Jazz Town, USA
    Does anyone know if the silver finish on an instrument is in any way harmed by using a special polish cloth to remove tarnish? I have my old (2006) 2335 looking almost like new after buffing with one of these cloths purchased in a music store. The rag turns black fairly quick and this is what concerns me.
    When using an old (extremely soft) discarded T-Shirt to wipe down the horn, it turns black as well, but not as fast as the silver polish cloth.
    Anyway, the Yammie shines like new now!
  2. Octiceps

    Octiceps Pianissimo User

    May 5, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Yes, the cloth removes the tarnish as well as a bit of plating every time you polish the horn. Best to use a baking soda and salt bath with the trumpet wrapped in aluminum foil. You can find detailed directions by using the search function.
  3. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    I've had a jeweller tell me that the silver (blue) cloth is the way to go - she says that the cloth removes the oxidation while other polishing regimes (Silvo for example) remove metal (silver). Certainly the baking soda/salt/hot water system works a treat too.

    The blue cloth should NOT be washed and the black indicates that it is removing tarnish, and it works just as well when black (a small portion of my logic bone suggests to me that I tiny bit of surface finish must come off with the cloth too - but it is minimal in my estimation.

    Keep the horn clean, wipe it down after every use, wash it regularly and you wont need the cloth much.
  4. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    That's the way to go. Good advice.
  5. stricd

    stricd New Friend

    Oct 19, 2010
    The black stuff is oxidized silver. That's what tarnish is. The longer the silver is left out in the air, the more it oxidizes (and the blacker it gets). So when you polish it, you remove all of the silver that has already oxidized, and if you keep going, you start removing the plating. Polishing cloths contain jeweler's rouge, a mild abrasive. Different colors denote different grits. Polishes, likewise, incorporate a VERY mild abrasive to remove the oxidization. Chemical baths pretty much do the same thing on a chemical basis, and may also affect the silver underneath.
    tedh1951 is right. In addition, keep the horn in the case any time it is not in use (I took to leaving mine on the stand in my practice room, and it tarnished very quickly).
    Here is a good article on caring for silver -

    Fiske & Freeman: Caring for Antique Silver Tarnish

    I have been using Wright's anti-tarnish silver polish on my trumpet for 32 years (average of once a year), and it still looks like new.
  6. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    I wash my silver horns in regular dish washing soap and they are as shiny as if polished with Wright's silver cream. I find that rubber bands and the rubber feet on my tuner are the hardest smudges to remove (requiring the silver cloth). I also use/recommend Yamaha's Slim cloths for silver. I have found nothing better AND easier for all the nooks and crannies on my horns. If you just don't go nuts with a silver cloth you'll be okay. :thumbsup:
  7. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    Tarnish is NOT oxidation - it is the product of a reaction between the silver and hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and the reaction happens in the presence of oxygen and other atmospheric components, but is not oxidation per se. The reuslt is Silver Sulfide (Ag2S).

    The chemical process for converting the tarnish back to silver by removing the sulfur is described as follows:

    Explanation: Silver tarnishes because it undergoes a chemical reaction with sulfur-containing substances in the air. Silver combines with sulfur to form silver sulfide, which is black, and darkens the silver.The silver can be made shiny again by removing the silver sulfide coating from the surface.

    Two ways to remove the silver sulfide are to: remove it from the surface, or reverse the chemical reaction and turn silver sulfide back into silver. The first method involves polishes that remove some of the silver during polishing. You can also use a chemical reaction (which is sped up by heating the water) to convert the silver sulfide back into silver, without removing any silver.

    Aluminum has a lower ionization energy (energy required to remove electrons from an atom of the element) than silver. As a result, aluminum is oxidized (loses electrons and oxidation number increases), and silver is reduced (gains electrons and oxidation number is reduced). Depending on the amount of tarnish, the silver will be bright and the aluminum foil may be brown with tarnish (aluminum oxide), in a short while. The silver tarnish is "transferred" to the aluminum via reactions, which occur instantaneously, as follows:

    3Ag2S(s) + 2Al(s)+ 3H2O(l) --> 6Ag(s) + Al2O3(s) + 3H2S(aq)

    silver sulfide + aluminum + water --> silver + aluminum oxide + hydrogen sulfide
    (* Note, this reaction can be done without the baking soda, but it takes longer to see results).

    The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) reacts with the (sulfur-smelling) H2S:

    3 NaHCO3(aq) + 3 H2S(aq) --> 3 NaHS(aq)+3 H2O(l)+ 3 CO2(g)

    baking soda + hydrogen sulfide --> sodium hydrosulfide + water + carbon dioxide. The CO2 gas can be observed escaping from the most tarnished parts of the silver.

    The silver and aluminum must be in contact with each other because a small electric current flows between them during the reaction.This type of reaction, which involves an electric current (because atoms are charged), is called an electrochemical reaction, and is used in batteries to produce electricity.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010
  8. Trumpet Dreamer

    Trumpet Dreamer Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2010
    Jazz Town, USA
    I also use a Micro-fiber cloth for polishing. This does a very effective job in removing tarnish, as well as oils and other undesirable residue. And the best thing is that this cloth is free of any chemicals.
  9. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    Thanks Veery - my apologies for my "loose" description - chemistry, (except with my 1st best girl) has always created a scatoma for me. :shock:

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