A Silver-Cleaning Battery *

Areas of Science Chemistry
Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Safety Adult supervision required.
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.


You can take advantage of electrochemistry and make a battery to clean tarnished silverware without scrubbing. You should learn about how batteries work and study oxidation-reduction reactions so that you can explain how this process works. You'll need a pan large enough to hold the pieces of silverware, and deep enough to cover them in solution while boiling gently. Line the pan with aluminum foil, and place the silverware inside the pan, making sure that each piece touches the foil. Add water to cover the silverware, then add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of baking soda for each liter of water in the pan. Heat the pan on the stove until the water boils, then reduce the heat so that it boils gently. The tarnish (silver sulfide) gradually dissolves, producing silver (Ag+) and sulfide (S2−) ions in solution. Electrons are transferred from aluminum atoms (Al) to the silver ions, producing silver atoms (Ag) and aluminum ions (Al3+). The silverware is functioning as the positive pole of the battery, and the aluminum as the negative pole. The silver atoms plate out of solution on the silverware, and the sulfide ions form insoluble sulfides with various positive ions in the solution. What is common to all batteries? How do batteries differ? With help from an adult, design and build a battery and prove that it works by lighting a flashlight bulb or powering a small electric motor.

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Science Buddies Staff. "A Silver-Cleaning Battery." Science Buddies, 28 July 2017, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Chem_p029/chemistry/a-silver-cleaning-battery. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2017, July 28). A Silver-Cleaning Battery. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Chem_p029/chemistry/a-silver-cleaning-battery

Last edit date: 2017-07-28

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