How To Clean Silver Conchos
Cleaning tarnished silver conchos doesn't have to be difficult.
Lower on this page is an easy, no-rub way to clean silver, and you only need common household items to do it.
The biggest drawback with this method is that the silver conchos need to be removed from the halter, bridle, saddle, or other tack. Obviously, then, this way of removing tarnish won't be suitable for all conchos.
However, if you can remove the concho(s) from the tack this technique is simple and provides fast, easy results.
Below: A "before" and "after" split screen of one of the many conchos we've cleaned using the method described on this page.
First, Make Sure The Silver Is Ok To Clean
Not all silver is created equal.
- If you happen to have any information from the maker about how to clean their silver, use that instead of any information found here.
- Understand that the method of cleaning silver conchos described below is for conchos without any added stones, bling, or jewelry-type of settings. Some cleaning methods, including this one, might be harmful to the added decorations and/or their settings.
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In addition, some silver has a protective finish, and cleaning it with the method on this page - or any method - might be harmful to it. For example, Circle Y has this to say about their silver:
"Circle Y silver is sterling silver electroplated and has a protective finish to prevent tarnishing-clean with a damp cloth only. Abrasive or chemical cleaners should not be used because they could result in removal of the protective finish."
This may apply to other silver items, too, not just ones from Circle Y.
Disclaimer: Clean any silver with the method below - or any method - at your own risk.
Step 1 - Items You Will Need
To clean your silver conchos you won't need much, just a few common household items:
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon baking soda
- 1 cup very hot water
- A bowl or other container the right size to hold your concho after it is submerged in one cup of hot water
- A sheet of aluminum foil large enough to cover the bottom of your container
- And, of course, your tarnished concho
Below: A heavily tarnished bridle concho.
Step 2 - How To Clean The Concho
The "how to" is very simple:
- Place the sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side up, in the bottom of your bowl or other container.
- Put the salt and baking soda in the container on top of the foil. Give it a gentle shake or stir to mix it.
- Heat one cup of water until it just begins to simmer, then pour it into the container with the salt and baking soda. There should be a good, strong, fizz reaction.
- Immediately place your concho into the fizzing water. The water/salt/baking soda mixture should be deep enough to completely cover the concho.
- Let your concho sit in the mixture for about 1 minute, then slightly raise it out of the water to take a quick peek at it. (Use a utensil for this folks, the water will still be very hot!) If your concho is clean and shiny, go to the last step. If not, put it back in for another minute.
- Remove the now clean-and-shiny concho (remember, the water will be hot!), rinse with warm water, and towel dry.
You're done! Well, probably. If you feel like your concho has really tight spaces, like the rope edge shown on the concho on this page, a simple rinse might not remove all the loosened tarnish in the tight areas. You may need to run an old, soft toothbrush over the tight spaces to make sure they rinse clean.
Below: The same concho shown higher on this page after cleaning it with the method described above.
How To Get Poor Results
This method for cleaning silver conchos is simple to do and works really well. However, it is possible to screw it up.
- If your water isn't hot enough you will get poor results. How do you know if your water is hot enough? The fizz test: If you pour your hot water onto the salt/baking soda mixture and you don't get a good, strong, fizz reaction, it's likely to be because the water wasn't hot enough. In our experience, a poor fizz reaction means mediocre results.
- Make sure the aluminum foil you place into the bowl or other container is shiny side up. So, what happens if the foil is shiny side down? To be honest, we don't know. We just know that the book we learned this technique from made it clear that the foil needed to be shiny side up so that's how we've always done it.
- The silver concho must touch the aluminum foil. This method works for cleaning silver because of a chemical reaction between the silver, foil, salt, and baking soda. However, if the silver doesn't come into direct contact with the foil the reaction doesn't occur.
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