Jewelers use metal in the creation of almost every type of jewelry; they are the most essential part of almost every piece of jewelry you use. However, there is a nasty process called oxidation that affects metals when you don’t store them properly for long periods. Oxidation is the process of oxygen reacting with the chemicals in exposed metal and breaking them down.
How to Clean Oxidized Metal Jewelry
When jewelry becomes oxidized, it loses its beauty and luster and in extreme cases, the jewelry can even get damaged. Therefore, you must know what to do when you notice signs of oxidation on your jewelry. There are several methods that you can use to clean oxidized metal jewelry and get it to look as good as new in the comfort of your home.
Method 1 – Using Detergent And Aluminum Foil
To use this method you would need to get the following materials:
- Aluminum foil
- Pot of boiling water
Once you have the materials listed above the simple steps to follow are:
Step 1 – Put some water into a pot and allow it to heat up.
Step 2 – Once the water starts boiling, place the aluminum foil into the pot and add some detergent. Stir the solution gently to reduce the lather from bubbling excessively.
Step 3 – Place the oxidized metal jewelry into the solution for 3-4 minutes and allow it to boil. Ensure that the silver comes in contact with the aluminum foil while it’s in the pot of water.
Step 4 – Allow the water to cool down and bring out the jewelry from the pot. Next, use the toothbrush to gently brush the oxidized jewelry; you would see the effects of oxidation easily falling off and the jewelry looking as good as new.
Step 5 – Finally, rinse the jewelry in clean, running water and leave it to air dry.
Method 2 – Using Toothpaste And Toothbrush
You can also clean oxidized jewelry with toothpaste and a toothbrush by following the simple steps explained below:
Step 1 – Rub the toothpaste directly on the oxidized metal jewelry. You don’t need to rub it on every part of the metal but make sure that it’s sufficient for the brush to use in scrubbing around.
Step 2 – Wet the toothbrush a bit and use it to scrub the jewelry gently for a few minutes.
Step 3 – When you observe that the evidence of oxidation has been removed, you should rinse the jewelry in clean water. Sometimes, you might need to scrub the jewelry with a toothbrush when rinsing it to remove any leftover toothpaste that might be stuck in its corners.
Step 4 – Leave the jewelry to air dry and you’re good to use it again.
Method 3 – Using a Toothbrush, Ketchup, And Salt
If you do not want to use a paste and brush to clean your jewelry, you can also use ketchup (or tomato paste) and salt as a substitute. The steps to use this method are as follows:
Step 1 – First, rub the ketchup directly on the oxidized metal.
Step 2 – Next, dip the toothbrush in salt and use the salted brush to gently scrub every part of the jewelry thoroughly.
Step 3 – Rinse the jewelry in fresh water and use the toothbrush to ensure that all ketchup residue is removed.
Step 4 – Leave the jewelry to air dry and you can begin to use it.
Does Oxidation Affect All Metal Jewelry?
Jewelry made from noble metals, such as platinum or gold, is resistant to oxidation in their native state as well as copper and rhodium. Many corrosion-resistant alloys, such as stainless steel and brass, were also created by humans.
Apart from these, most other metals used in the creation of jewelry can be affected by oxidation at different rates; for example, iron oxidizes faster than silver.
How To Prevent Oxidation Of Metal Jewelry
As you have seen, you can easily clean your oxidized metal jewelry at home; however, prevention is better than cure. The more you expose your metal jewelry to oxidation, the weaker the jewelry would become, and soon it might get damaged. Therefore, it is best if you know the means of preventing oxidation from happening in the first place.
1. Use And Clean The Jewelry Frequently
Oxidation mostly affects jewelry that you leave unused for a long time in the wrong place. Therefore, using your metal jewelry and cleaning it regularly is one of the safest bets to prevent oxidation.
As you use the jewelry frequently, sweat is also a major cause of oxidation, so you should ensure you clean your jewelry thoroughly to remove every trace of it.
2. Store Metal Jewelry Away From Moisture
Moisture is a huge cause of the oxidation of metal jewelry; therefore, you protect your jewelry from all forms of it. While you might be able to keep huge chunks of water away from metal jewelry, the humidity in the air can also lead to oxidation.
There are two means of preventing humidity from causing the oxidation of metal jewelry. Firstly, you can place desiccating packets filled with silica gel in your jewelry storage container; alternatively, you can use a piece of chalk in the same way.
Both materials would absorb the moisture in the atmosphere; however, be careful not to let pets or children ingest silica gel as it’s very harmful to the body.
3. Avoid Exposing Metal Jewelry To Acidic Substances
Acidic substances like citrus fruits, onions, and vinegar can lead your metal jewelry to become oxidized. Always ensure that you keep them away from your jewelry; so if you need to serve dishes or fruits that contain these acidic substances, you should keep your jewelry away.
4. Store Silver Away From Other Metals, Rubber, And Latex
Rubber and latex can cause silver to oxidize as they have a strong negative reaction to the metal. Therefore, you should avoid storing your metal jewelry in the same place as those materials.
5. Don’t Store Oxidizing Metal With Good Ones
If you have lots of metal jewelry stored in one box, you must always check to make sure that none of them has any signs of oxidation. The moment oxidation starts on one metal, it can cause a reaction in others close to it which would lead to more of them getting oxidized.
Regularly check your jewelry box to make sure that none of them show any signs of oxidation, and if there is any like that, quickly clean it up.