Coffee heat rising


The plan to use candles instead of electric lights as a feature in the Month of (not-so-)Extreme Frugality requires me to get out the candle-holders. Among the motley crew is an old pair of silver-plate candle-holders that date back so far I think they were a wedding gift.

Badly tarnished, they suffered considerably the last time I used them because I left them out on the patio table, where the ambient smog ate into their silver coating. They’re not what you’d call precious heirlooms.

I’d heard that ashes can be used as a silver cleaner. Well, I wasn’t about to try the stuff left in the fireplace on the Cristofle. But these little guys looked like perfect guinea pigs.

So I retrieved a few spoonsful of ashes from the last time I burned old receipts in the fireplace and mixed in enough water to make a paste.

Lo! It works! In fact, it may work better than commercial silver polish. Here’s a before and after with the ashes. Some light marring of the surface remained, which I suspected might be the ash mix’s fault.

However, when I cleaned the other piece with Wright’s silver polish, similar discoloration remained on that candle-holder. So it looks like the smog pitted or discolored the surface. Whatever the cause, it’s not the ashes. The Wright’s was no faster or easier than the ash mixture, and it didn’t work as effectively on the part that holds the candle, where dirt had combined with wax to form a near-impermeable layer.

The piece on the left was cleaned with Wright’s; the piece on the right, with ashes.

So there you are: free silver cleaner. Before I throw out the ashes in the fireplace, I think I’ll collect a few trowels-full in a Ziplock bag for future use.

Comments left at iWeb site:


Great idea!

Now what can I burn…?Ah, there’s Husband’s comic books…

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 – 09:35 AM

Michel Savoie

Impressive!! Thanks for the tip! I’d never heard of that one before

Friday, April 25, 2008 – 01:03 PM


Well that is something. It looks great!

Saturday, April 26, 2008 – 02:00 PM


What a wonderful tip. I must try that. I have used the ashes from our stove on theicy road by our house. It’s works great for that too.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 – 03:42 PM

2 thoughts on “Ashes”

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