I have been asked many times about how to remove tarnish from silver, but I was recently asked how to make silver darker. I will show you how to darken silver by using boiled eggs.
Some people like really shiny silver. Some people like silver that is darker, slightly tarnished, and antique-looking. I’m in the first group. I think highly polished silver is beautiful. If you are in the second group, this post is for you.
How to Darken Silver with Eggs
Silver does not oxidize, i.e., rust. Instead, it reacts with sulfur to create silver sulfide. That’s what tarnish is: silver sulfide. Anything that gets sulfur on silver will cause it to tarnish. Most silver will slowly darken over months due to contact with trace amounts of sulfur in air. The fastest way to tarnish silver is to use “liver of sulfur.” Unfortunately, though, liver of sulfur is illegal in California and it will pretty much turn your silver instantly black, probably not the look you want.
On the other hand, many safe and common products contain sulfur that we can use to darken silver in a controlled manner: eggs, mayonnaise (which contains eggs), vulcanized rubber, some cardboard, air, etc. This is good news if you buy a shiny silver bracelet from me and want to darken it. Here is my simple way to darken silver by capturing the sulfur in gas released by hard boiled eggs.
For an example, we will use the sterling silver bracelet I made yesterday. The bracelet was polished in my tumbler for about an hour and a half, and it is very, very shiny. (FYI: This is a viperscale bracelet. Pretty, right?) The picture below, using regular indoor lights, doesn’t even begin to show how shiny this bracelet it.
Step 1: Hard boil a couple of eggs. Get them good and hard.
Step 2: Peel the eggs, put them in a glass jar, and chop them up. They should still be quite hot.
Step 3: Put a cloth or wadded up paper towel on top of the eggs. The point of the towel is to keep the silver piece off the eggs. Direct contact will likely cause uneven discoloration.
Step 4: Drop in your silver piece and seal the jar. Don’t let the silver directly contact the eggs. If it slips down, take it out and rinse it off. Then try again.
Step 5: Now wait until the silver darkens to your liking. Generally, this will take 3 to 5 hours. Maybe start checking every 20 minutes or so after around 2 hours. Don’t open the jar until it is done.
|After 1 hour:
||After 2 hours:
|After 3 hours:
||After 4 hours:
Step 6: Remove the bracelet and rinse it. Once it looks about dark enough, take it out of the jar and give it a good rinse to stop the darkening process. Throw away the paper towel and chopped-up eggs.
And here’s the darkened piece, before and after:
(Yes, I know the colors are a bit off. The sun was going down, so more incandescent light and less natural light. Regardless, it’s pretty obvious how the silver got darker.)
So, there you go! That’s how you darken silver naturally and safely by using hard boiled eggs!