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Tarnish is a thin layer that forms over copper, brass, silver, aluminum, and other semi-reactive metals as their outermost layer undergoes a chemical reaction. Tarnish is mainly caused by chemicals in the air, such as sulfur. It often appears as a usually dull, gray or black film or coat over metal. Tarnish can easily be removed, however, and does not destroy the metal the way the oxidation process known as rust destroys iron. In the case of silver and copper tarnish actually preserves the underlying metal and is considered desirable. [1]


Tarnish is a product of a chemical reaction between a metal and a nonmetal or compound, especially oxygen and sulfur dioxide. It is usually an oxide, the product of oxidation.

Prevention and removal

Using a thin coat of polish can prevent tarnish from forming over semi-reactive metals. Tarnish can be removed by using steel wool, sandpaper, emery paper, or a file to rub or polish the metal's dull surface. Fine objects (such as silverware) may have the tarnish electrochemically reversed.[2]

See also

Simple English

Tarnish is a layer of corrosion similar to rust. It is caused by oxidisation - when semi - reactive metals such as copper, brass, silver, aluminum meet chemicals in the air. It will cause the metal to darken or go dull by making a thin film on the metal. It is caused by a chemical reaction, between a metal and a non metal (or compound), usually oxygen or sulphur dioxide.


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