Silver Oxidation: the main causes and its prevention

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Silver Oxidation: the main causes and its prevention

Hands up if you have a piece of jewelry oxidized.


Those who love science can confirm it: oxidation is a very common phenomenon and is connected to particular chemical reactions which are activated when silver interacts with oxygen.


But why? Let’s see the main reasons which cause the oxidation of this metal.

SILVER OXIDIZES DUE TO ITS PROPRIETIES

In order to better understand the silver oxidation, we have to know its metal proprieties.

Have you ever wondered why we say sterling silver 925? This name refers to silver chemical composition and means that sterling silver isn’t a 100% pure but it’s 90% silver and 7,5% other metals, especially copper.
This last metal is the responsible for the oxidation: when copper interacts with oxygen, it activates the process of oxidation of the metal.

But why don’t we use 100% pure silver? The answer is simple. Pure silver is very ductile and malleable: this purity, despite its beauty, is not suitable for jewelry making.
A small addiction of copper make silver stronger and dent resistant.

ACIDS, ONE OF THE MAIN CAUSES OF OXIDATION

Walter White was right. There are some moments in life when you need to know the chemistry. And this is one of these moments.


Silver oxidation is all a matter of pH. Silver oxidizes when it touches the skin of those who have a high pH (and consequently an acidic sweat). Acidosis is the medical term used when your body's fluids contain too much acid and it occurs when your kidneys and lungs can't keep your body's pH in balance.
During Summer, people with acidosis shouldn’t wear jewels in order to avoid silver oxidation.


SILVER OXIDIZES WHEN IT TOUCHES THE AIR


As said, one of the main reasons why silver oxidizes is the chemical reaction between copper and oxygen.
In chemistry the name oxidation indicates a loss of electrons and is a reaction between a metal which combines with oxygen to create oxides.
That’s why, if we put some pieces of jewelry into a drawer and some pieces on a night stand, these last ones are likely to oxidized faster.

HOW CAN WE AVOID THE SILVER OXIDATION

How can we avoid the silver oxidation?
The best solution is keeping your jewels into a dark and dry place, leaving them into a box wrapped with a piece of cloth.
You can store your pieces of jewelry into some isolated sacks that must be closed very carefully in order to avoid the entrance of oxygen.
For those who live in moist places, like at the seaside, you should put your jewels into some dry sacks.
Moreover, acid substances are bad for your jewels, so we have to pay attention to perfumes and cosmetics, which could damage your pieces of jewelry and make them oxidized.