Jeffrey Herman Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, February 2019, Consulting the Silver Expert

Consulting the Silver Expert

by Jeff Herman

Is Your Silver being Damaged or Respected? Part 2

Have you ever stopped to wonder what the ingredients are for silver dips and polishes, and how they might impact your health? Take a look at the ingredients of one common polish.

So here is a modern look at a very old subject, one that takes into account your health and the environment, not to mention the health of your silver.

Chemical dips including Tarn-X are some of the most destructive tarnish removers. They not only remove tarnish, they continue to etch the object itself! The companies producing these industrial chemicals are deceptive. Read my review below before you damage your silver and possibly your health! Tarn-X rating from the respected European Working Group.



Bring such dips to a household hazardous waste collection site. Don’t dump it down the sink.


Below are pieces that were «cleaned» with Tarn-X…




Below are just a few of the many e-mails I have received regarding the use of chemical dips…


«Thank you for your post about Tarn-X. Unfortunately, I read it after I used the product because I began to experience respiratory problems, even with only a few minute’s exposure.»

«I recently inherited some family silver pieces. All of them are tarnished from not too bad to OMG! Someone recommended Tarn-X and I just looked it up on Google. Luckily I found your «Warning» about this falsely advertised product. So thankful to you for preventing my ruining these much cherished pieces of my Mom’s.»

«Please help! How can I reverse the effects of silver dip? I placed a sterling silver 925 necklace for a few seconds in a dip. Now the necklace lacks luster or shine that it had before the dip. It looks like a dull white coat has covered the necklace. The black shadows that gave the pendant dimension is now gray.»

«I wish I had read your comments on this stuff before I ruined my expensive Pandora Charms! What in the world can be done to reverse the damage? I was dipping, rinsing, drying and right before my eyes they started turning white and chalky. Some of them have black spots too. I am so sad over this as these charms are many years of collecting. Please help me if you can. Also I don’t know  how to dispose of this stuff, I don’t want to take chance of some poor animal coming in contact with it. Please contact me ASAP if you can be of any help.»

«I stumbled on your website when I had a disaster cleaning an inherited silver platter from my grandmother with Tarn-X.  I’m devastated and never dreamed silver cleaner would damage my object. I so wish I would have done research on Tarn-X before I cleaned my platter but I never had a problem with it before.»

«I used Tarn-X on my platinum engagement ring, white gold diamond ring, and ruby ring. They are both ruined. They look tarnished (gray discoloration) and the surface feels almost corroded.»

«Needless to say I made a big mistake and used Tarn-X to try to remove marks left by an item being wrapped tightly for 30 or more years in Saran Wrap. The handle stills looks like silver but the rest looks more like brushed aluminum.»

«I used Tarn-X on my platinum engagement ring and a white gold diamond and ruby ring. They are both ruined. They look tarnished (gray discoloration) and the surface feel almost corroded.»

The following number will connect US citizens to a local poison control center: 1-800222-1222.

Tarn-X was used on this coffeepot to remove tarnish, but it also removed the factory-applied patina. The second image shows the piece after re-patination, which is how it should have looked after proper cleaning.



Tarn-X was used to remove the tarnish that formed underneath this coin’s lacquered surface. It also removed the factory-applied patina! The second image shows the piece after refinishing.



Below are two knife handles that were tarnished. The top was polished gently with Earth Friendly Silver Polish, the bottom was left in Tarn-X for exactly 20 seconds, then neutralized in water with dissolved baking soda. You can see that virtually all patina was removed from the bottom handle, leaving a dull, lifeless surface.



The individual who owns this coffee set contacted me after using Tarn-X and asked if there was any way to improve the surface. I recommended Blitz Silver Shine Polish. When she was finished polishing she was so excited she sent me the second image.

This Arthur Stone sterling bowl required machine polishing to remove the micro-etching that resulted from wiping with Tarn-X. I then re-patinated the chased areas and hand polished the entire bowl while highlighting the delicate chasing.



I have been testing Tarn-X and other dips for decades while recording the effects they have on silver. I routinely receive objects for refinishing due to damage from these horribly destructive products. (I use Tarn-X as an example because it’s used by 95% of the collectors I hear from, as well as its overwhelming market share).

Chemical dips – in various degrees – quickly strip the shine from silver, leaving a dull, lifeless appearance.

Chemical dips quickly remove factory-applied patinas (if left in the solution for more than a few seconds) or gradually (if dipped quickly each time the object requires cleaning). You’ll notice a soft white surface develop over a very short period of time.

Chemical dips damage every silver alloy including .800 (Germany), .900 (coin), .925, (sterling), .9584 (Britannia silver), and .999 (fine silver). These dips will also harm copper and gold.

Chemical dips cause pitting of the object’s surface. These surface defects will act like a sponge and more readily absorb tarnish-producing gases and moisture. The object will eventually require professional polishing and possibly re-patination to restore the original finish.

MOST chemical dips are made up of acidified thiourea (a strongly suspected carcinogen). Acids are corrosive and will damage silver, niello, bronze, stainless steel knife blades, and organic materials such as wood and ivory.

Chemical dips, when used on objects that have sealed components, such as candlesticks and trophies with hollow feet, or teapots with hollow handles, may leak into the cavity through small holes or imperfections in the joints. At this point, it becomes virtually impossible to wash the chemical out. If you’re working on a baby cup with this type of rim, do you really want an infant drinking from it after using a dip?

Tell your friends about these dips and recommend they take them to their next household hazardous waste collection program in their area

Learn the proper way to remove tarnish by reading The Care of Silver.


Tarn-X MSDS (Manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheet)   


Additional dips containing acidified thiourea:

Connoisseurs Silver Jewelry Cleaner
Ellanar Dip Instant Silver Cleaner
Empire’s Instant Tarnish Remover
Goddard’s Silver Dip
Hagerty Flatware Dip
Hagerty Silver Bath
Hagerty Silver Dip
Medallion Care Tarnish Treatment
Midas Silver Tarnish-Off
ShineBrite Silver Dip
Weiman Instant Tarnish Remover
Wright’s Instant Tarnish Remover


* Bring these dips to a household hazardous waste collection site. Don’t dump it down the sink.

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 @




The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.


Por Amer A. Vargas

Amer A. Vargas graduated with a Tourism Degree specializing in hotel management from CETT (Center for Tourism Studies) in Barcelona and spent the following decade in the service industry. Beginning as a waiter and then supervisor in high-end restaurants, he was next made responsible for raising service standards through staff training programs. After receiving further training as a butler, he worked as a butler and valet in private service as well as hotels in England and Europe.

During this time period, he translated the best-selling industry texts Butlers & Household Managers, 21st Century Professionals and Hotel Butlers, The Great Service Differentiators into Spanish and is currently creating butler training materials in the Spanish language.

As the Director of Spanish-speaking Markets, Amer is responsible for making the technology of butling available in private residences and hotels in the Spanish-speaking countries of the world. He provides consultation, placement, and training services in these countries.