Jeffrey Herman Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, February 2018, Consulting the Silver Expert

Jeff Herman

Consulting the Silver Expert

Cleaning and Polishing Silver, Part 9

Salt Shaker Corrosion

by Jeffrey Herman

Those crusty corrosion marks on and in your salt shaker can be a real annoyance. One way to avoid this problem from the very start is to empty the shaker after a dinner party and thoroughly wash it; in this way, the salt doesn’t have time to do its damage.

Heavily gold plating the interior is the only other way to preserve the finish because gold is impervious to the effects of salt. It is still wise to clean out the shaker at least twice a year and inspect the plate to make sure it has not been abraded by the salt.

There is a simple way to remove the corrosion yourself. Do this in a well-ventilated area and with nitrile gloves since you will be using ammonia. When removing corrosion from a salt shaker, pour ammonia into a container, place the shaker inside, and cover the container.

Let the shaker sit for ten minutes, then remove from the container, rinse thoroughly with warm water, then inspect.

If the black or green corrosion spots remain, place the shaker back in the ammonia and let stand for another ten minutes, rinse, and inspect again.

If the corrosion has not dissolved after a third soaking, have the shaker professionally polished.

If you successfully removed the corrosion, you’ll probably notice a slight graying of the silver. If this occurs, start by using one of the least abrasive silver polishes to bring back the shaker’s luster. When restoring the finish to a piece of silver, always invest more time using a gentle silver polish in preference to seeking quicker results with a more-abrasive silver polish.

Mr. Herman continues to offer his services to our readers for any questions you may have about the care of silver. Either contact him at (800) 339-0417 (USA) or via email jeff @

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