Reply To: cleaning museum silver – sodium carbonate or calcium carbonate?

Jenny Arena

Not knowing how to answer this question myself, I went to the source regarding the use of Qwicksilver. Here are thoughts from Deborah Long:

“Sodium carbonate with an aluminum plate is a very standard method of electro-chemical reduction that has been in use for many years. The problem with these dips/solutions is that they indiscriminately chemically reduce tarnish along with intentionally applied patination, leaving a surface with an odd looking “flat” appearance. Over time, they develop a yellowish appearance that I do not find appealing. Subsequent tarnish/corrosion on surfaces treated this way is also unusual looking. For these and other reasons, I would never suggest the use of this process for museum artifacts.”

I would always take advice and recommendations with a grain of salt until you’re able to talk to the expert–which thankfully for us Deborah could help weigh in!