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Thread: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

  1. #1

    Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    This evening I took some time to remove the sulfide covering the 1892-S quarter I found last week. I used a method I have tried over the years on heavily tarnished silver coins, and it has worked quite well.

    Here is the quarter before and after removing the sulfide.

    I just couldn't stand seeing the coin's beauty being hidden by the ugly tarnish.




    Finally, a coin I can admire. Nothing more to do but store it.




    Here is the the method I used:

    Needed: Baking soda, distilled water, aluminum foil, and a glass dish.

    Boil the water. Line the inside of the dish with the aluminum foil, shiny side up, and lay the coin on it. Add two tablespoons of baking soda to one quart of boiled water. Mix in well. Now slowly pour the water into the dish, making sure the coin is fully submerged. Allow the coin to soak for 10 minutes. Remove the coin and under running water use the softest toothbrush you can find to lightly brush the coin. Avoid rubbing the coin with your fingers. Much of the sulfide will come off, but there may be some remnant depending on how heavily the coin is tarnished.

    The above procedure may have to be repeated several times to fully remove the heavy sulfide from the coin. Wash the cleaned coin with distilled water and pat dry with a cotton towel. Avoid any rubbing motion!

    Again, it might take several tries on a heavily tarnished coin, but the method does work well. It does not make the coin 'shiny' allowing it to retain its 'aged' look.

    HH!

  2. #2

    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Excellent tip. It looks amazing.

  3. #3
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    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    That is a vast improvement.Do you think that it diminishes the value of the coin to a collector?
    For every relic that rots away........a piece of history is lost.

  4. #4

    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Quote Originally Posted by John M View Post
    That is a vast improvement.Do you think that it diminishes the value of the coin to a collector?
    Good point, John! Cleaning of any type will tend to diminish a coin's value. There is no getting around that. To what degree, however, will depend on the cleaning done and how it affects the overall appearance of the coin. The question is, which coin would I as a collector prefer? The one with the heavy sulfide build or the one without it?

    Coins having such heavy sulfide buildup are 'cleaned' by dealers to make them presentable anyway though they employ methods which would not be clearly discernible to the average collector. The method I use does not shine up the coin. In fact, it remains with a somewhat dull tone. It simply removes the heavy tarnish. I don't use the method on coins that have a light tarnish since such can be quite appealing as well. Some decide to rub baking soda paste on the coins to remove any remaining tarnish after using the above method, but I strongly discourage such. It gives the coins an unnatural appearance.

    But, you are correct, cleaning coins, especially those of any value, will have an effect on the coin's appeal to avid collectors.

  5. #5
    Administrator del's Avatar
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    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    wow what a difference Angel great info , now if you could come up with a method that would have that kind of results with copper coins
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  6. #6
    Elite Member coinnut's Avatar
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    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Nice job on that Barber I think someone found a Barber Half, on a beach??, in one of the posts that could use that system. I hope it works on beach tarnished finds as well. Great job on it.

  7. #7

    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Thanks guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by del View Post
    wow what a difference Angel great info , now if you could come up with a method that would have that kind of results with copper coins
    I would love to find a great way to clean dug coppers, Dan. that's like the holy grail of cleaning.

    Quote Originally Posted by coinnut View Post
    Nice job on that Barber I think someone found a Barber Half, on a beach??, in one of the posts that could use that system. I hope it works on beach tarnished finds as well. Great job on it.
    George, the method does work on silver coins found at the beach. I have cleaned several such coins, though due to the corrosive nature of saltwater any pitting on the coin will be more pronounced. For such coins artificial toning after employing the above method, such as the ones I have seen where egg is used, does work great.

  8. #8
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    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    That is an excellent method Angel. If the coin has collector value, just avoid the scrubbing and likely (after an alcohol and DI water rinse) the coin will be market acceptable. RickO
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    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Beautiful... jus' beautiful!
    Geez, Angel... where'd you find a glass dish that holds a quart of water?
    Can you cut the formula in half and jus' use one tablespoon?
    I'm anxious to give this a shot, 'cause I've never cleaned any of my silver digs ('cept the 8 reale around my neck).
    Will a clear pyrex glass casarole dish do?
    Also... where would you get distilled water... a pharmacy?
    I already have bakin' soda up the ying-yang. It's the best household cleaner you can get (me Mum's training to me). It's way better 'n them supermarket cleaners they offer... for anything, too.

  10. #10

    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Quote Originally Posted by Krom View Post
    Beautiful... jus' beautiful!
    Geez, Angel... where'd you find a glass dish that holds a quart of water?
    Can you cut the formula in half and jus' use one tablespoon?
    I'm anxious to give this a shot, 'cause I've never cleaned any of my silver digs ('cept the 8 reale around my neck).
    Will a clear pyrex glass casarole dish do?
    Also... where would you get distilled water... a pharmacy?
    I already have bakin' soda up the ying-yang. It's the best household cleaner you can get (me Mum's training to me). It's way better 'n them supermarket cleaners they offer... for anything, too.


    I do use a deep dish, but a Pyrex glass will do just fine. I usually wait until I have two or three coins to clean, but I do clean them in separate containers at the same time, hence the overkill on the water. You can indeed cut the formula in half, both baking soda and water. I do that when cleaning just one coin.

    Any local supermarket or pharmacy should carry distilled water. It's just water where most or all impurities and minerals have been removed. Baking soda is great! It is an ideal cleaner.

    Do avoid the temptation to rub the coin during the cleaning process. Remember, you may have to use the method several times depending on how heavily tarnished the coin is. I would leave the coin alone if it only has a natural toning. I only use the above method on coins that have an ugly sulfide layer, as was the case with the above Barber quarter.

  11. #11
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    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    First off very nice job on the cleaning Angel. I do have a question of my own to throw at you. We have a book for silver Eagles from Littleton, and we noticed that the edges of our Eagles are becoming dark toned. I suspect the paper used in this book has some acid content to it and we will be changing over to a Dansco book. Patti tried your method and it did help somewhat, but the coins are still dark rimmed. Should we use a dip to see if it removes the rest of the discoloration without damaging the coins. Hate to have that happen as this is a complete set of uncirculated Eagles.

  12. #12

    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Quote Originally Posted by hoser View Post
    First off very nice job on the cleaning Angel. I do have a question of my own to throw at you. We have a book for silver Eagles from Littleton, and we noticed that the edges of our Eagles are becoming dark toned. I suspect the paper used in this book has some acid content to it and we will be changing over to a Dansco book. Patti tried your method and it did help somewhat, but the coins are still dark rimmed. Should we use a dip to see if it removes the rest of the discoloration without damaging the coins. Hate to have that happen as this is a complete set of uncirculated Eagles.
    Personally, I wouldn't do anything with those coins. Dealers having experience in this area will use dips to enhance the look of a higher grade coin that has some unattractive toning, but I personally have never used such. I use the above method only on coins found while detecting.

  13. #13
    Elite Member coinnut's Avatar
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    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Dipping a coin is still cleaning it chemically. I would think that you would do more damage than good. I think the dip will remove patina from all of the coin, so you may remove some of the tarnished edges, but you will also remove any slight good patina that's in the middle of the coin. I fear it may take a long dipping to even out all the areas. I recommend taking one to a coin dealer and ask him how he would clean this coin. I'm not sure he would spill the beans, but his answer would be interesting lol When in doubt....DO nothing!! But do remove them from that albulm.
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  14. #14

    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Thanks Angellionel!

    This process worked like a charm on the WLH I recently found. The reverse of the coin was 2/3 covered in the nasty grey crud. This process sure made the coin much nicer to admire.

  15. #15

    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Quote Originally Posted by jkress View Post
    Thanks Angellionel!

    This process worked like a charm on the WLH I recently found. The reverse of the coin was 2/3 covered in the nasty grey crud. This process sure made the coin much nicer to admire.
    Glad to hear it! She must look quite nice now.

  16. #16
    Elite Member milco's Avatar
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    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Glad to see you posted this. Since you posted that find I have been waiting to see how it would turn out and it turned out very well. That method does work well, but requires patience as you know. Great coin there!
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  17. #17
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    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    That's nice Angel. Nice find and nice method. I do have a pretty good method of cleaning coppers. I shared it with Geaorge (coinnut)....it's our secret...
    Next time I dig an ugly one, but has some potential. I'll do some before and after's along with the method. It's a bit more costly and takes more time.

  18. #18

    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Wow,,,that coin cleaned up beautifully!! On my silvers I like to use toothpaste,,,,don't know what that would do on coins with sulfide though
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  19. #19
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    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Excellent job cleaning that Barber

  20. #20
    Elite Member coinnut's Avatar
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    Re: Method To Remove Sulfide From Silver

    Quote Originally Posted by Carver View Post
    On my silvers I like to use toothpaste,
    Ouch, I hope they are common date ones. Don't do that to a rarer one though, it will diminish the value to just about scrap value. We used to also use baking soda in a water paste. That works good to, but also brought the value to scrap Now I just rince them and leave them for sometime in the future, when hopefully I get better at cleaning

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