Why Does Silver Tarnish?

Tarnish is the result of a reaction between silver and hydrogen sulfide. The sulfide can be present in the atmosphere — either by natural causes like volcanic eruptions or by decaying organisms or man-made causes like emissions resulting from industrial processes. It can even be present in foods like egg whites or things such as rubber bands or cardboard. Efforts to reduce tarnish by blending silver with tarnish-resistant alloys have had mixed results, so many commercial silver producers use protective coatings on their silver items.

More about silver:

  • In 1859, the Comstock Lode in Nevada was discovered; the Comstock Lode was the largest silver find in the US up until that point. By 1882, it had yielded $397 million US Dollars — equal to $9 billion in 2012 US Dollars — in silver ore.

  • As of 2012, all the silver mined throughout history would fit into a 171 foot (about 52 meter) cube.

  • Fingerprints can contribute to tarnishing, so experts often advise silver owners to wear gloves while handling or polishing this precious metal.

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