Silver Tarnishing By Janet Tran Way back when families used silver ware utensils, there used to be a dirtying

tarnish that would appear to coat the silver. Used to be, it was a horrible chore to clean this tarnish off as it would emit a horrible odor. Kids who were being punished were usually the ones assigned to this gruesome task. The tarnish on the silver comes from a chemical reaction silver has when it comes into contact with air and food. Being in contact with those elements creates silver sulfide, otherwise known as tarnish. Later on, scientists discovered that there was a more pleasant way of removing the dirty tarnish off of the silver. This method is yet another chemical reaction that will remove the tarnish. To show how it works only involves aluminum foil, water, and some tarnished silver. First thing you want to do is get an aluminum container or line a tank with aluminum foil. Next, get some water and pour it into the tank about halfway. Now, using some sort of heating device, heat up the water until it boils while carefully monitoring it. When the water is sufficiently boiling, you may use some tongs to lower the piece of tarnished silver into the container. Make sure to have the piece of tarnished silver and aluminum touching. After a couple minutes, you should notice the silver start to detarnish. Depending on how much tarnish your silver has, you may need to leave it in for longer. The reaction involved in removing the silver sulfide is a single displacement reaction. It converts the silver sulfide into aluminum sulfide. If you were writing out an equation for this reaction, you would write out in formula form: silver sulfide plus aluminum yields silver plus aluminum sulfide. So after you’ve dipped the tarnished silver into the boiling water, the ‘silver sulfide’ became aluminum sulfide and stuck to the aluminum and the silver simply stayed silver. From doing this lab, I observed that silver sulfide does not smell lovely at all and while the silver was detarnishing, what appeared to be aluminum sulfide appeared on the aluminum. It was a rather muddy brown color and not very pleasing to look at. I couldn’t figure out if the smell I smelled during the experiment was silver sulfide or aluminum sulfide, so I cannot contend what the aluminum sulfide smelled like. As the aluminum sulfide grew though, the tarnish on the silver was disappearing. The results on my experiment were as expected especially since it’s backed up by countless other experiments done in the past. By the end of the experiment, my piece of silver was tarnish-free. I assume that most of my classmates received the same results also. There were a series of things I learned from this experiment. For one, it is a fine example that chemical reactions are useful in everyday life and can provide an easier, simple way of doing things. I can imagine that most cleaning products nowadays have been tailored to work in a similar way as the chemical reaction in the experiment. But, I guess the simplest, most straight out obvious thing I learned from this experiment was how to remove tarnish from silver!

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