Remove the tarnish off silverware using an electrolyte
RN: 10120301 - ELECTRICITY & MAGNETISM > ELECTRICAL CURRENT
3 & 4
All metals are chemically active - meaning that parts of metal atoms, called 'electrons', break away from the atoms and combine with materials outside the metal. A metal that is able to loose more 'electrons' than another metal, is said to be more chemically active; such as iron that rusts quickly when in contact with oxygen or the tarnishing of silver. In a process called 'electroplating' it is also possible to reverse the process and 'add' electrons to a metal by taking the electrons from a more 'active' metal such a copper and fusing them to a metal such as zinc, which is less 'active'. In this science experiment you will use 'electroplating' to remove the tarnish off silver ware by replacing the 'lost' electrons of the silver:
STUFF YOU NEED [MATERIALS]
- STAINLESS STEEL POT
- ALUMINIUM FOIL
- TAP WATER
- TARNISHED SILVERWARE
- DISHWASHING LIQUID
- BAKING SODA
- PLASTIC TONGS
HOW TO PROCEED [PROCEDURE]
- Find some tarnished silverware that you wish to have cleaned by 'electroplating'. First, use dishwashing liquid to remove any dirt or grease that might interfere with the 'electroplating' process.
- Place a stainless steel pot (an aluminium pot will not work) on a stove and line the base of the pot with a few sheets of aluminium foil.
- Now add enough tap water to the pot to be able to completely submerge the silver objects that you wish to electroplate.
- Add three tablespoons of baking soda to the water and ask you parents or an adult to boil the water on the stove.
- When the water is boiling, use plastic, wooden or stainless steel tongs to lower the silver objects into the water in the pot, and leave it for a few minutes until you notice that the dark tarnish spots begin to disappear.
- When you are satisfied that the silver objects are shining again, use the tongs once again to remove them, rinse the baking soda water off under clean water, and then place them somewhere to cool off.
- Remove a piece of the aluminium foil with the tongs, rinse it and notice how easy the aluminium foil cracks and looks dull now.
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