March 23, 2008

Cleaning Silver Jewlery Living | Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

HOW SHOULD I clean my tarnished silver jewelry?

Tarnish on silver is caused when the metal reacts with sulfur, a chemical found in the air, as well as in wool and foods such as onions and eggs. Handling silver after touching these items can cause it to tarnish.

To keep jewelry clean, "the best thing you can do is wipe it with a soft cloth each day after wearing it," says Don Brown, owner of Don's Jewelry and Design in Washington, Iowa. Store pieces in a jewelry box or in velvet or cotton jewelry bags, keeping the items in separate compartments or bags to prevent them from scratching one another.

Remove existing tarnish by filling a dish with warm water and a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid; dip a soft toothbrush into the mixture, and scrub jewelry, working around stones and any grooves that are meant to be blackened. (Silver-and-turquoise jewelry is often deliberately tarnished in these areas.) Do not soak pieces, as this can loosen glue that holds stones in place. Dry thoroughly with a soft cloth or hair dryer set to low to avoid spotting.

If soap and water don't do the trick, try a commercial cleaner. Brown likes polishing cloths treated with cleaning chemicals (find them at jewelry stores) because they are gentle and easy to use. Liquid polishes and pastes, applied with a soft cloth, also work well. Avoid submerging jewelry in a silver dip, which contains harsh acids that can damage the surface. If tarnish persists, you may want to take the items to a jeweler for a professional cleaning.

Why does organic milk often have an extended expiration date?

All Grade A milk sold in stores is pasteurized, or heated to kill most of the microorganisms that can make it spoil quickly. But many organic milk companies employ a process known as ultrapasteurization (indicated on package) in which milk is heated at a higher temperature until it is practically free of organisms that can grow at refrigeration temperatures; this allows it to last one to two months instead of the 10 to 12 days you may be accustomed to. However, it is important to note that the sell-by date on ultrapasteurized products is only relevant before you open the carton. After that, the milk stays fresh for a week or so.

Ultrapasteurization isn't used only for organic milk, but it is particularly advantageous for this product. An extended expiration date enables organic dairies to ship their products farther and allows stores to receive shipments less often. "Organic milk isn't produced in all parts of the country, so ultrapasteurization is a way for companies to reach more customers," says Sharon Gerdes, technical consultant for Dairy Management, which represents U.S. dairy farmers.

Milk that has been ultrapasteurized has a subtly different taste and texture than regular varieties. It is also pricier, because ultrapasteurization requires dairies to invest in more sophisticated equipment. If supporting local dairies is a priority, keep in mind that while pasteurized milk is often bottled locally, ultrapasteurized products may have traveled a significant distance to reach your store.

Is there a way to remove a burn scar on a wooden table?

Sand surface burns - those that have blackened but not corroded the wood - on a solid wood table with fine steel wool or sandpaper. Afterward, apply a layer of paste wax; if necessary, first even out the color with matching stain. For painted pieces, sand, then touch up with fresh paint. If you don't have matching paint, you'll need to repaint the entire piece a new shade.

For deeper burns that have eaten away the surface, gently scrape off the damaged fibers with the tip of a utility knife. Use the corner of a razor blade to remove smaller pieces. Fill any visible holes by layering on varnish or shellac, using a fine detail brush and letting finish dry between coats.

Tint newly exposed fibers with matching wood stain; if it's painted, treat as previously described. Apply paste wax to the repaired spot. Avoid using any of these techniques on particleboard, as it will crumble.

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