Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

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PaulT
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Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by PaulT » Mon Mar 22, 2021 8:43 pm

Some mouthpieces I have put away after very little play have developed some tarnish [Bach/silver plated]. They were stored in drawer, not in sealed plastic bags (should they have been stored in sealed plastic bags?)

I have read of three methods of removing the tarnish:

1) an aluminum foil/baking soda/hot water bath
2) polishing cloth intended for use with silver and sliver plating
3) polishing/cleaning cream intended for use with silver and silver plating.

- Are the treatments equal? Is one preferable in general or in a particular situation? Is there a sequence or hierarchy in which they should be used or combined? Comments on "pros and cons"

- Is there a downside to tarnish removal or a reason to avoid tarnish removal treatments in cases where the tarnish is minimal or light? (i.e. does it thin/compromise the plating)

Thanks
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BGuttman
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by BGuttman » Mon Mar 22, 2021 8:56 pm

Lots to cover here.

1. Any tarnish removal process (except possibly the aluminum foil) will remove some plating. You have to remove the plating that has tarnished at the very least. Unless you have a highly sulfurous atmosphere (smells like rotten eggs) the amount of silver removed will be pretty small. I have some mouthpieces that are decades old and after tarnish removal they still look good.

2. The silver polishing cloth will only remove light tarnish, and not sulfide tarnish (rotten egg smell atmosphere). If all you have is a little darkening it will work fine. Otherwise, you need something more aggressive.

3. I've never tried the aluminum foil - baking soda - hot water technique, but some have said it really works well. Looks kinda messy to me.

4. I have used cream polishes and liquid polishes. I recommend the liquids. They are less aggressive to the plating.

5. If you store the mouthpieces in a drawer, there are tarnish resistant cloths that you just put in the drawer with the mouthpieces to slow down tarnish. These are sold for silver plate tableware.

Good luck.
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greenbean
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by greenbean » Mon Mar 22, 2021 9:28 pm

I use Goddard's Silver Dip. Only mpcs that I leave out will get pretty heavily tarnished. The ones in parts boxes, bags, or shoeboxes don't tarnish at all.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by harrisonreed » Mon Mar 22, 2021 11:17 pm

The aluminum foil method works best on light tarnish. You'd have to do it LOT on a heavily tarnished mouthpiece
Doug Elliott
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by Doug Elliott » Mon Mar 22, 2021 11:28 pm

If this link works...
I cleaned some tarnished silverware with aluminum foil, baking soda, and poured boiling water on it. The whole process (and video) is 40 seconds.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/14hSItK ... p=drivesdk
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by greenbean » Tue Mar 23, 2021 12:19 am

Doug Elliott wrote:
Mon Mar 22, 2021 11:28 pm
If this link works...
I cleaned some tarnished silverware with aluminum foil, baking soda, and poured boiling water on it. The whole process (and video) is 40 seconds.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/14hSItK ... p=drivesdk
Whoa! That is awesome.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by Doubler » Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:17 am

I tried the aluminum foil/baking soda/hot water method once on a piece that I had not dealt with before to see how it would work out. I followed the procedure exactly and was very disappointed. What works great for me is Flitz liquid for removal and Goddard's Silver Polishing Cloth for maintenance.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by harrisonreed » Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:36 am

Doubler wrote:
Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:17 am
I tried the aluminum foil/baking soda/hot water method once on a piece that I had not dealt with before to see how it would work out. I followed the procedure exactly and was very disappointed. What works great for me is Flitz liquid for removal and Goddard's Silver Polishing Cloth for maintenance.
The water has to be salty and very hot, otherwise it doesn't work well.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by BGuttman » Tue Mar 23, 2021 5:01 am

I still recommend Flitz, Haggarty's, or Gorham. Liquid. Shake well.
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TriJim
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by TriJim » Tue Mar 23, 2021 6:04 am

Wright's Silver Polish - 'Cleans, Polishes, and Protects.' Comes in cream or liquid (which I use) forms and available at most retailers including WalMart, Home Depot, and Amazon. Easy to use and even removes light insertion marks.
PhilTrombone
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by PhilTrombone » Tue Mar 23, 2021 7:44 am

I just used the Bon Ami cleanser (which is "non-abrasive") from my kitchen on 2 mouthpieces with light tarnish. They came out great.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by Doug Elliott » Tue Mar 23, 2021 8:30 am

Bon Ami (from their website)
Natural soft abrasives (feldspar and limestone)

It's not "non-abrasive," it's just softer abrasives that are still an abrasive to an even softer surface like silver.

I might use something like that as a first step in cleaning and preparing a mouthpiece for replating, if it's horribly pitted. But I like Barkeeper's Friend for that.
baileyman
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by baileyman » Tue Mar 23, 2021 9:56 am

A piece in a pocket rubbing around all the time and occasional sweaty hands will keep it looking pretty good. Just need a brush for the stem and throat.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by boneberg » Tue Mar 23, 2021 1:14 pm

I've had great results (even with heavily tarnished ones) with the aluminum foil/baking soda/boiling water (not just hot) method in the last few weeks. I also very gently "massaged" the mpcs. with baking soda with my fingers beforehand. Most important is that you thoroughly clean off the residue from the chemical process afterwards (e.g. with dish washing liquid). I didn't find salt helpful or necessary.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by BHolleyBrass » Tue Mar 23, 2021 1:56 pm

Most shops don't exactly advertise it, but they'd probably polish a few mouthpieces for free. A bench motor or lathe, a mouthpiece-holding mandrel, some polish (I use Goddard's), and a few shop towels can knock out multiple mouthpieces in just a few minutes. Cleanup (before and after) with Dawn and a brush and it's one of those welcome little breaks from "real" repairs for our nice customers.
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PhilTrombone
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by PhilTrombone » Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:41 pm

Bon Ami (from their website)
Natural soft abrasives (feldspar and limestone)

It's not "non-abrasive," it's just softer abrasives that are still an abrasive to an even softer surface like silver.

I might use something like that as a first step in cleaning and preparing a mouthpiece for replating, if it's horribly pitted. But I like Barkeeper's Friend for that.
Thanks Doug. Agreed. My equipment in question was only lightly tarnished, and a light touch is all that was needed. Both Mpieces came out sparkling in my case. Just a little bit of powder on a damp paper towel.

I do shudder at the thought of using aluminum foil on any metal surface. Ick!
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by MTbassbone » Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:59 pm

Any opinions about Flitz?
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by harrisonreed » Tue Mar 23, 2021 5:01 pm

PhilTrombone wrote:
Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:41 pm
Bon Ami (from their website)
Natural soft abrasives (feldspar and limestone)

It's not "non-abrasive," it's just softer abrasives that are still an abrasive to an even softer surface like silver.

I might use something like that as a first step in cleaning and preparing a mouthpiece for replating, if it's horribly pitted. But I like Barkeeper's Friend for that.
Thanks Doug. Agreed. My equipment in question was only lightly tarnished, and a light touch is all that was needed. Both Mpieces came out sparkling in my case. Just a little bit of powder on a damp paper towel.

I do shudder at the thought of using aluminum foil on any metal surface. Ick!
The aluminum foil just sits in the water with the mouthpiece -- it doesn't even have to touch the mouthpiece. Often people will use a disposable aluminum lasagna tin. The sodium ions in the water carry the sulphur atoms from the mouthpiece to the aluminum foil. As long as the water is near boiling and there is plenty of baking soda in the slurry, the tarnish vanishes like magic. Science.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by Doubler » Tue Mar 23, 2021 5:20 pm

MTbassbone wrote:
Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:59 pm
Any opinions about Flitz?
See my post and BGuttman's above.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by Doug Elliott » Tue Mar 23, 2021 5:34 pm

The aluminum foil does have to touch the mouthpieces. Did my video work? I can't tell from my end.

The black sulfur transfers from the mouthpiece to the aluminum foil through electrolysis. It leaves the silver on the mouthpiece, there's no silver loss.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by BGuttman » Tue Mar 23, 2021 6:03 pm

A couple of notes:

Creams generally have coarser abrasives and tend to remove more silver. Better on deep tarnish, but if you get too aggressive you can polish off the plating faster than with a liquid.

I didn't mention Wright's. Works OK as well.

Polishes intended for multi metals or brass tend to be too aggressive on silver plate. Often they contain a lot of ammonia which complexes silver. While I have worked with Noxon with some success, I don't recommend it.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by harrisonreed » Tue Mar 23, 2021 9:25 pm

Doug Elliott wrote:
Tue Mar 23, 2021 5:34 pm
The aluminum foil does have to touch the mouthpieces. Did my video work? I can't tell from my end.

The black sulfur transfers from the mouthpiece to the aluminum foil through electrolysis. It leaves the silver on the mouthpiece, there's no silver loss.
The video works Doug. You're right about it needing to touch at least a point on the item (which creates a tiny electric current), but as is very apparent in your video the aluminum doesn't need to come into contact with all or even a large percentage of the tarnish for it to "vanish".

I was trying to respond to the "eek" comment above about "using" the aluminum foil on a metal surface. It's not like Doug is scrubbing tarnish off using the foil in his video.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by PhilTrombone » Wed Mar 24, 2021 7:08 am

I was trying to respond to the "eek" comment above about "using" the aluminum foil on a metal surface. It's not like Doug is scrubbing tarnish off using the foil in his video.
Ah. now I get it. Science is in fact, cool!
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by Amconk » Wed Mar 24, 2021 6:58 pm

Plain old toothpaste. Work it in with a cloth, or even just your hands. Give it a rinse and a polish with your favorite polish cloth. Voila!
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by Doug Elliott » Wed Mar 24, 2021 8:05 pm

Toothpaste is actually more abrasive than silver polish. If you care.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by greenbean » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:09 am

Bon Ami and Barkeeper's Friend. I use these a lot for around-the-house cleaning. They are abrasive but less so than Comet or Ajax. But they will leave a silver-plated mouthpiece covered in tiny scratches. (Ask me how I know...)

Toothpaste? Mine stays in the bathroom!

Silver dip. Works well. I removes the sulphur only. Seems like the safest way to go. Doug, any thoughts?...
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by bigbandbone » Wed Mar 31, 2021 7:10 am

If you do not have access to a bench motor and chamois buffs here is what I would suggest.

First dip it in liquid Tarnishield. This will get the tarnish out of the deep grooves. Then mix baking soda with water till you get a mushy texture. Use this with you fingers and a mouthpiece brush to clean the inside of the cup and bore. Then mix Haggerty's with denatured alcohol. You don't need much Haggerty's. Wipe the watery mixture onto the mouthpiece with a clean rag, let it dry to a haze, then polish with a piece of flannel.

This is how I did it for years in my shop. Except I buffed it out on an unstitched chamois wheel with green rouge.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by blahMark » Wed Mar 31, 2021 9:27 am

A lot of convoluted responses. Why not just use silver polish? I imagine if you polish it weekly it could wear through the plating eventually, but that seems like a nonexistent problem.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by CharlieB » Wed Mar 31, 2021 9:31 pm

Another solution is to celebrate the patina.
The black oxidation shines up very nicely with a little rubbing from a cotton cloth.
Surprisingly, after the initial rubbing, the patina is very durable and requires almost no maintenance.
There are several simple ways to accelerate the initial blackening (Google).
I use this method on the vintage mouthpieces for my old horns; partly because of aesthetics, partly because it avoids the loss of silver plating caused by repeated polishings, and partly so I don't need to keep polishing mouthpieces.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by harrisonreed » Thu Apr 01, 2021 7:33 am

Does silver tarnish tear your face up? I used to have all kinds of lip trouble (like skin issues) from silver mouthpieces, but now I prefer them. I wonder if the difference is in how I've been careful to really maintain my mouthpieces?
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by JohnL » Thu Apr 01, 2021 10:57 am

harrisonreed wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 7:33 am
Does silver tarnish tear your face up? I used to have all kinds of lip trouble (like skin issues) from silver mouthpieces, but now I prefer them. I wonder if the difference is in how I've been careful to really maintain my mouthpieces?
It might have been other, non-tarnish grunge that was causing the irritation. Getting the oxidation off gets rid of a lot of other stuff, too.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by harrisonreed » Thu Apr 01, 2021 4:57 pm

JohnL wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 10:57 am
harrisonreed wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 7:33 am
Does silver tarnish tear your face up? I used to have all kinds of lip trouble (like skin issues) from silver mouthpieces, but now I prefer them. I wonder if the difference is in how I've been careful to really maintain my mouthpieces?
It might have been other, non-tarnish grunge that was causing the irritation. Getting the oxidation off gets rid of a lot of other stuff, too.
Yeah it could be that I'm keeping them much cleaner in general. I also thought about maybe it was that I was occasionally using a polishing cloth on the rim and rinsing it off, which might have made the surface abrasive over time.

In any case, as it relates, once I stopped doing this and just detarnished with baking soda every year or so, no more torn up face.
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by Pistolero » Sun May 02, 2021 1:13 pm

Amconk wrote:
Wed Mar 24, 2021 6:58 pm
Plain old toothpaste. Work it in with a cloth, or even just your hands. Give it a rinse and a polish with your favorite polish cloth. Voila!
You nailed it, Colgate regular toothpaste for the WIN!
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by Posaunus » Sun May 02, 2021 6:45 pm

Pistolero wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 1:13 pm
Amconk wrote:
Wed Mar 24, 2021 6:58 pm
Plain old toothpaste. Work it in with a cloth, or even just your hands. Give it a rinse and a polish with your favorite polish cloth. Voila!
You nailed it, Colgate regular toothpaste for the WIN!
Doug Elliott wrote:
Wed Mar 24, 2021 8:05 pm
Toothpaste is actually more abrasive than silver polish. If you care.
greenbean wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:09 am
Toothpaste? Mine stays in the bathroom!

Silver dip. Works well. I removes the sulphur only. Seems like the safest way to go.
I see no point in scratching the shiny mouthpiece finish or prematurely removing silver plate. Remove tarnish only infrequently, as necessary, using the gentlest methods / materials possible. And try to avoid tarnish in the first place. Gently wipe your mouthpiece dry with a clean microfiber cloth after each playing session, and store dry. (Hint: don't use a leather mouthpiece pouch!)
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Re: Removing Tarnish on Mouthpieces

Post by sungfw » Wed May 05, 2021 1:16 pm

I concur with those who recommend stay away from toothpaste. Yes, toothpaste will remove the tarnish … along with a whole lot more that you possibly/probably DON'T want to remove.

10-12 years ago, I took the used Eastman by Shires British Baritone I bought on ebay to Mike Morse at Tuba Exchange to have him look at the second valve which was occasionally hanging slightly on the return stroke. Mike checked the piston, found there was a slight high spot on one side and suggested that before I sent it somewhere to get it lapped (this was right after Vince Simonetti instituted a policy that they would only work on a horn if you bought it from them), I try lapping it myself using a little dab of toothpaste—"about the size of the end of your little finger."

Figured, why the heck not since the horn and shipping cost me less than $150 and 30-40 minutes later the action was as smooth as glass.
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