This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
If the articles are only slightly tarnished, mix 3 parts of best washed and purified chalk and 1 part of white soap, adding water, till a thin paste is formed, which should be rubbed on the silver with a dry brush, till the articles are quite bright. As a substitute, whiting, mixed with caustic ammonia to form a paste, may be used. This mixture is very effective, but it irritates the eyes and nose.
An efficacious preparation is obtained by mixing beech-wood ashes, 2 parts; Venetian soap, 4/100 part; cooking salt, 2 parts; rain water, 8 parts. Brush the silver with this lye, using a somewhat stiff brush.
A solution of crystallized potassium permanganate has been recommended.
A grayish violet film which silverware acquires from perspiration, can be readily removed by means of ammonia.
To remove spots from silver lay it for 4 hours in soapmakers' lye, then throw on fine powdered gypsum, moisten the latter with vinegar to cause it to adhere, dry near the fire, and wipe off. Next rub the spot with dry bran. This not only causes it to disappear, but gives extraordinary gloss to the silver.
Cleaning with the usual fine powders is attended with some difficulty and inconvenience. An excellent result is obtained without injury to the silver by employing a saturated solution of hyposulphite of soda, which is put on with a brush or rag. The article is then washed with plenty of water.
Never use soap on silverware, as it dulls the luster, giving the article more the appearance of pewter than silver. When it wants cleaning, rub it with a piece of soft leather and prepared chalk, made into a paste with pure water, entirely free from grit.