Jeffrey Herman Newsletter

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

Consulting the Silver Expert

by Jeff Herman

Removing Salt Marks

Salt marks on and in a salt shaker, cruet or other vessel, feels like a crusty mass and cannot be removed with silver polish.

Any solid silver object with salt encrustation can be remedied while wearing nitrile gloves in a well-ventilated area: For just a few spots of encrustation, dip a Q-tip or cotton ball into household ammonia and place it on the spot. Let the liquid sit for ten minutes, then rinse the entire piece thoroughly with warm water and inspect the surface. If black or green spots remain, repeat the above procedure.

If the object is covered with encrustation—such as a salt shaker with a fixed top—place the object in a container for 10 minutes, with enough ammonia to cover the whole piece.

If you are able to remove the encrustation successfully, you’ll probably notice a slight graying of the silver. In this case, use one of the least abrasive silver polishes to bring back the object’s luster. When restoring the finish to a piece of silver, I always recommend investing more time while using a gentle silver polish, over quicker results with a more abrasive silver polish.

If the encrustation has not dissolved after a third application or soaking, have the object conserved professionally.

Of course, it is best to avoid this whole problem by removing the salt immediately after a meal and thoroughly washing the container. Alternatively, heavily gold plating the interior will preserve the finish, because gold is impervious to salt—although it is still wise to clean out such a shaker every half year and to inspect the plate to make sure it has not been abraded by the salt.

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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