Silver is an element with a natural luster, but it will rust under certain circumstances like all metals. For example, all silver tarnishes when exposed to sulfur; however, it is less likely to tarnish than other metals such as gold or copper. So, does silver rust?
Although silver does not rust, it can corrode over time. This process is known as tarnish. Exposure to air, water, and other elements cause a chemical reaction that leads to discoloration.
There is confusion on whether silver rust or not. There are two types of rust: iron oxide and silver oxide. Silver rust can be created by contact with sulfur, not oxygen. Silver does not rust. Instead, when silver comes in contact with sulfur, it creates silver sulfide, commonly known as tarnish.
So, with the information below, you can get the facts about silver, the reason it can tarnish, the ways it can tarnish, and how you can prevent it from tarnishing.
Can Silver Rust?
As a sole metal, silver cannot rust or tarnish. It shares similarities with gold and some other metals that are classified as noble metals. The reason is that it does not give in to oxidation that triggers rust, tarnishing, and other corrosive states.
As a result of this, pure silver cannot rust. However, it is possible to have items made of silver rust and tarnish. This statement might seem confusing but the next section will shed some light on this.
Why Is It Possible for Silver Items to Rust or Tarnish?
Silver items can rust or tarnish because silver is not the only metal that makes up these items. For the record, the properties of silver as a sole metal are too delicate to be used alone in making items.
This includes even things as fragile as pieces of jewelry. The only known metal that is below silver in this regard is gold. This is because gold is softer than silver despite how fragile silver is.
The need for other metals in making silver items is what makes these items susceptible to rust, tarnish, and some other corrosive state. More often than not, the metal – copper; is what is used to compliment silver.
The fact that copper is susceptible to rust and tarnish is what makes these silver items susceptible as well. So, it simply means that silver in its purest form cannot rust but silver items can rust because they rely on metals that can rust for hardness and durability.
What Are The Things That Can Cause Silver Items To Rust?
Some things are more likely responsible for your silver item rusting. Some of them include the following:
1. Less Amount of Silver Used
The term “silver item” is very ambiguous. This is because there are various grades and specificity is needed. By and large, the grades are determined by the amount of silver in proportion to the other metal (most likely copper), or other metals used.
The higher the amount of silver used, the lesser the chances of the silver item rusting or tarnishing.
So, getting silver items that have so much silver used in the silver alloy is advised for people concerned about the rusting and tarnishing problem.
Moisture is a key factor in the oxidation process that enables rust to happen. This is why people that are particular about keeping their vulnerable items rust-free need to take note of this. They should make sure the items are not exposed to moisture or water.
For instance, bathing with your silver jewelry on is a bad idea. This is because this can trigger the process that causes rusting. People with silverware also need to dry their silverware after washing. They should not rely on the natural air to do this.
Moisture here also includes your perspiration. This is because there are chemicals that you emit when you sweat that can affect silver-made pieces of jewelry. So, taking note of these things can help put your silver items in the right shape and prevent them from rusting or even tarnishing.
3. Not Polishing Your Silver
Your silver item is not going to take care of itself. One of the things to be done to prevent or restore such items from rust or tarnish is polishing. You have to be deliberate about undertaking the process and spend quality time doing this.
This is one of the secrets to enjoying your silver item for a long time. You might also want to have a professional polish it for you if you think you do not have the time or cannot do it effectively.
4. Not Keeping Your Silver Item Properly
This point especially has to do with silver jewelry. You should properly keep them to prevent them from rusting or tarnishing. The ideal thing is to keep them in a place that will protect them from oxidation that could cause rusting.
This is why a zip bag is strongly advised. The reason is that the silver jewelry will be secure and protected from the air as it is right inside the zipped bag.
5. Some Chemicals
There are chemicals all around us that can aid the rusting process of these silver items unknown to us. For instance, some chemicals in perfumes, detergents, bathing soap, and several other things are capable of causing the silver item to rust. This is why you need to keep your silver items away from these things if possible.
How Long before Silver Items Begin to Rust?
The time it takes before silver items begin to rust or tarnish depends on several factors. The grade of the silver item, exposure to triggering factors, and maintenance practices are what determine how slow or fast this will happen.
Silver in its pure state cannot rust or tarnish just as the case with gold. However, silver items can experience rusting or tarnishing considering that they are also made with susceptible metals. You have also learned the factors responsible for rust and how to prevent it.