While shiny and polished silver has its appeal, it may not be everyone’s style.
If you’re on the lookout for some interior decor inspiration that gives your house a unique vintage look, you might be interested in patina.
For those who don’t know what patina is, it’s simply a layer of material that develops on the surface of certain types of metals, such as silver in addition to bronze and copper.
This blackened silver layer naturally takes anywhere between a few months to years in order to develop.
But luckily, there are a few ways to patina silver artificially, which should take a lot less to get the job done!
If you want to know how to antique silver and create a worn effect for some of your metallic home décor accessories, you’re in for a treat.
We’ll walk you through 5 easy methods that you can try to turn silver black. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!
How to Prepare Items for Silver Patination
Regardless of the process you’re going to follow, there are a few preparatory steps that you must follow before starting the actual patination process.
Doing this before the aging process will make the patina effect more precise, so the end results will be even more amazing!
Step 1: Choose the Right Method for Patination
The first thing you’ll need to do is to figure out the right method for silver patina.
Remember, we’re going to cover 5 different methods to get the job done.
Depending on the items you want to patina, ingredients that you have on hand, the presence of stones along with the silver, and your level of skill and precision, your choice may vary.
Not only that, but some of these processes may render a different shade of patina, so you might want to try the process on smaller pieces of silver first to get familiar with each one.
Step 2: Prepare All the Necessary Tools for the Job
Developing a layer of patina on silver involves various chemicals that your skin and lungs might be sensitive to.
For that reason, it’s essential that you wear gloves and a facemask during the process. Also, you might want to wear disposable clothes that won’t be a problem if they’re damaged.
Step 3: Always Start by Cleaning the Item Thoroughly
Regardless of the patination process you’re opting for; you need to make sure that you start with a thoroughly cleaned piece.
This is because dirt and grime accumulated on the surface will act as a physical barrier that prevents your items from being evenly oxidized, leaving some noticeably bright spots within the patina.
To avoid that, simply dip the items in some warm soapy water, clean them with a soft-bristled brush, then rinse and dry.
After use, use a pair of tongs to handle the silver to avoid transferring grime back on its surface, although wearing clean gloves should also work.
Method 1: Using Boiled Eggs
Sulfur is one of the best materials that speed up the patination process, and luckily, hard-boiled eggs contain a protein (albumin) that is rich in sulfur.
This method is ideal for small pieces and jewelry with stones.
Here’s how to tarnish silver using this method:
- Boil 2 to 3 eggs for every one ounce of silver you add, then let them cool down and peel them completely.
- Crumble the boiled eggs inside a container and close the lid. You can use just about any plastic container or a ziplock bag that you can completely seal.
- Add the pieces of silver to the bag or container and make sure that you lock it thoroughly.
- Shake the container or the bag so that the silver is completely covered with pieces of egg, then let them sit aside for 5 to 8 hours.
- Check the silver pieces regularly, and remove the silver when it reaches the desired shade. Avoid leaving the silver in the eggs for more than 10 hours because it may damage the pieces.
Method 2: Using Liver of Sulfur
As you can see, the previous methods take a bit of time, so it’s not suitable for larger pieces.
If you want to get the job done faster, you might want to opt for the liver of sulfur.
This sulfur-rich compound gets the job done in a fraction of the time, and it gives you high consistency and good control over the level of patina.
However, due to the invasive nature of the liquid, it might be unsuitable for jewelry with stones.
Here’s how to oxidize silver with this method.
- After washing and cleaning the silver, prepare a bowl that can fit the item with enough hot water.
- In a well-ventilated area, add the liver of sulfur to the hot water until it turns yellow. Ideally, you should add about 1/4 a teaspoon for every two cups of hot water, then stir until the mix is homogenous. If you need to add more water to the mix, make sure it’s also hot but not boiling.
- Optional: Heat up the piece of silver with a hairdryer to make it equally warm and prevent it from cooling the mix down.
- Dip the silver piece for a few seconds then pull it out and check the color of the silver. Avoid immersing the silver for a long time to avoid pitting, as the mix is remarkably quick.
- Repeat the dip if you want a darker shade.
- Neutralize the solution by dipping the silver in another baking soda solution bath (a handful of baking soda for every medium-sized bowl)
- Remove the silver piece within 3 to 5 seconds to protect the finishing coat, then rinse and dry.
While cleaning the silver, you can add a few drops of ammonia and a sprinkle of salt into the warm soapy water which can help in creating the unique rainbow patina effect with a wide range of hues, especially blue and purple!
Method 3: Using Non-Sulfur Commercial Silver Oxidizers
While the liver of sulfur is the most powerful solution to recreate the antique effect of patina on silver, some people can’t tolerate its rotten eggs stench.
Also, using commercial silver oxidizers will spare you the tedious hassle of preparing the mix and keeping it warm.
There are plenty of great options to try out there, such as Jax Silver Blackener Antique Finish, which is specifically designed for silver, or Black Onyx Patina, which is an all-purpose solution that works with different types of metals.
The only drawback of using these commercial oxidizers is that they’re a bit pricey. Here’s how to use these simple products:
- Bring a bowl or a container (can be plastic) near the sink
- Add enough of the silver oxidizer so that it can cover the silver
- Dip the silver pieces inside using chopsticks or silicone tongs (to avoid corrosion)
- Take the silver out after 3 to 5 seconds
- Rinse it under running water for a minute
- Dry the piece of silver completely
- Use steel wool or a brush to gently remove the remaining flakes of oxidizer from the silver
Here’s a good video that shows you how to use the Jax Silver Blackener Antique Finish:
Method 4: Using Kala Namak
Kala Namak, also known as “Black Himalayan Salt”, contains sulfur, which is why it smells a little off to some people.
Luckily, you can use this salt to add a layer of patina to your silver. Here’s how you can do it:
- Dissolve a handful of black salt in hot water
- Immerse your item in the water
- Let the silver darken. (since it takes some time, you can control the shade easier than commercial oxidizers)
- Rinse and dry the silver.
Method 5: Using Bleach
Lastly, if you don’t want to buy expensive oxidizers or rare black salts, you can simply use household bleach to get the job done.
The main ingredient in bleach is sodium hypochlorite, which is a potent oxidizing solution that can also do the trick.
Here’s a tip:
Like some other ingredients, heat can significantly increase the speed of the process.
So use relatively warm water instead of cold water if you want a minute-fast result. Here’s how to do it:
- Mix bleach and water in a 1:1 ratio inside a bowl deep enough to house the silver item.
- Dip the silver in the solution, and remove it as soon as it reaches the right shade of black.
- Rinse and dry, then safely discard the bleach solution after it cools down completely.
5 Best Ideas to Try Silver Patina On
Now that you know how to give your silver items that aged effect, here are 5 of the best options to try it on:
Whether you’re hanging the lanterns in your backyard or using them as a centerpiece on your counters and tables, a vintage look on them will give a rustic vibe to your room.
2. Picture Frames
A picture is an excellent way to capture a memory, so why don’t you keep them in an aged silver frame to embrace and enhance the “good old time” vibes?
If you’re a huge fan of indoor gardening, keeping your green beauties in silver patina planters will give them a unique look that will turn everyone’s head!
You can use silver for indoors and galvanized metal for outdoors.
We all know about those vintage and ancient vases that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Luckily, we some patina effect, you can turn your silver vase into a priceless masterpiece!
5. Dresser Handles
The handles of a dresser can easily change the entire persona and style of the dresser.
If you want to push the vintage vibes of the dresser a little further, patina on the handles should do the trick!
With that said, you now know how to patina silver and recreate the effect on silver items in your household to give them a touch of antiquity and uniqueness!
Luckily, there are plenty of methods to consider, so you’ll be able to pick the one that suits your pace and DIY skills!