View Full Version : Toning.

12th March 2008, 13:26
I'm new to this forum, having only joined yesterday, so I thought I'd introduce myself with some questions on toning.
I began collecting gold bullion some few months ago. Then I learned that silver is a better option. I now have a somewhat eclectic mix of 1 oz silver coins, rounds and bars and I'm adding to these on a weekly basis, with a view of long term investment. Until I retire, in fact.
I recently acquired some Sunshine Minting bars as a job lot. One of these has some toning, the others are free of toning, as are my other pieces.
Could anyone please tell me what causes toning on silver.
Can it be avoided? for example, will coin capsules prevent it?
Are there any adverse conditions which should be avoided for storing silver, like high or low temperatures?
Can toning be removed without scratching the item?
I realize these are pretty basic questions which have probably been covered before, but important to me, all the same.
Regards, Alan.

12th March 2008, 19:09
You aren't "toning" man! Silver oxidizes (tarnishes) in the air, that's all. Try a little tarnex, (it's a clear liquid silver cleaner) and your silver will shine right up again.

Haven't you ever watched an old movie where the maid or the housewife was always busy "polishing her silver"? Don't sweat it. Just clean your silver.

12th March 2008, 19:19
Silver unlike gold, reacts to different pollutants in the air. Toning can be caused by certain pollutants or by applying heat.

Toning and tarnish do not affect the value of silver. Infact, it can help to assure a prospective buyer that it is silver and not some other metal. On the other hand eye appeal is exceedingly important to first impressions and first impressions are power in selling and or trading. I can tell you for a fact that if you lay 10 items of bright shiny new-looking silver bullion items down on a table side by side, and 10 identical bullion items that are tarnished. If a person comes along and wants ten of the items s/he will select the 10 bright shiny new-looking items and leave the tarnished ones on the table....or ask you to reduce the price of them "because they're so ugly".

Some folks don't clean their bullion silver, others do because they have some obsessive-compulsive traits, just like the way a silver bullion item looks when it is produced, and/or because they consider the cleaning process good "therapy".

You're call - clean or don't clean bullion. My advise is do not clean U.S. 90% or Canadian 80% silver dollars, halves, quarters, and dimes.

The easiest and most cost effective way to clean silver is by using heat, alumunium foil, water, salt and baking soda (soda not powder). Specifically:

Removing Silver Tarnish:

If you remove the tarnish (silver sulfides on the surface created by particles in the air) from bars or rounds, be careful with commercial cleaners - some remove silver. The best way I've found to remove tarnish is to use an electro-chemical wash. The wash is cheap and non-labor intensive, doesn’t remove silver, and vanishes tarnish from tiny crevices that a polishing cloth can't reach.

(1) Put an old flat-bottom skillet, pie plate, or other metal vessel on a stove burner with enough water to well cover the items you want to clean.

(2) Bring the water to a slow VERY GENTLE boil.

(3) Add a good teaspoon (equal amouts) of salt and a good teaspoon of baking soda.

(4) Stir until the salt and baking soda are disolved.

(5) Fold a sheet of aluminum foil so the foil is doubled shiny side out, and large enough to cover the bottom of the vessel.

(6) Use a knife to punch spaced holes through out the foil and smooth the foil out in the bottom of the vessel using a wooden spoon or something to sink the foil to the bottom as best you can, then add the bars or rounds - first one in the center and then outward toward the sides of the pan to force out any air that's between the foil and the bottom of the skillet. Be careful...the water is hot!

(7) Make sure each silver item is in solid contact with the foil.

(8) Let the silver articles sit in the solution for 5-10 minutes...watch them and remove them when the tarnish is gone. The combination of boiling water, salt, and baking soda will move the tarnish from the silver onto the aluminum foil.

(9) Rinse the itmes thoroughly in fresh water before they air-dry, and dry them with a soft towel.

(10) If the tarnish is really bad i.e. black, you may have to use some silver polish and an old toothbrush to get rid of all of it.

Good luck!

12th March 2008, 19:43
I've tried this, and it does work to remove tarnish. However, it also seems to leave sort of a filmy dull look to the surface of the silver. A buffing machine will take that dull look right off and polish it to a high shine again. However, buffing machines cost money. They are great if you build silver jewelry, or buy good silver pieces that have some age to them, in which case you will get a premium price because silver is valued in the antique and collectible trade. But if you are just trying to clean off boullion or coins, dunk them in a little tarnex, and save yourself the hassel. Or put a little tarnex on a piece of old t-shirt material, shine up the high spots and leave the tarnish in the printing; it gives you both a high shine and an aged look at the same time, and if you leave just a bit of tarnish around the stamped wording or designs, your silver will look like a million bucks.

13th March 2008, 12:46
Thanks for all the advice.
I still want to avoid polishing, but the Tarnex looks good. I had presumed chemicals should be avoided as is the case with old gold coins. The difference is obvious and I should have realized. Thanks again.

13th March 2008, 16:41
"...I've tried this, and it does work to remove tarnish. However, it also seems to leave sort of a filmy dull look to the surface of the silver..."

Wrong. If the silver isn't bright and shiny like "new" you're doing something wrong. Like maybe failing to immediately rinse the items when they're removed from the water?