Staining: Rainbow coloured stains can also appear on items
Maybe we should start by saying that stainless steel does not mean ‘stain free’ steel. The term stainless steel originated when stainless steel was first invented because it was soon realised that it had two distinctly different properties from carbon steels.
These being that: (a) it was much less prone but not immune to staining, and (b) it was also more corrosive resistant. Often staining of stainless steel can have a look for the colours of the rainbow. This can be caused by; i) detergents, especially unnecessarily strong solutions that will leave an indelible stain if allowed to dry out on its surface; ii) very hot grease, fat or meat juices will sometimes leave stubborn rainbow stains on the surface of stainless steel; iii) heat by itself will also cause rainbow banded colour stains on the surface of stainless steel. This is of particular concern when it occurs on knife blades as it may result in decreasing the metal’s resistance to corrosion in the affected area; iv) contamination of the surface with one of the propriety silver dip type of cleaning solutions may cause staining and/or etching of the surface of the stainless steel. Stains which don’t come off by rubbing with a soapy cloth can normally be removed with a stainless steel or chrome cleaner e.g. Solvol’s Autosol (available from motor car accessory shops). When deep staining or a chemical re-action of the steel has occurred then it may be necessary for items to be returned to the factory for re-polishing.
Surface Marking of Stainless Steel
Surface scratches, scuffing and small indentations will occur on the surface of items after little use. Although stainless steel is harder than silver, where the surface is of a high polish it will naturally begin to take on a patina from the initial usage. The patina build up may take longer than that for silver on a like for like basis but nevertheless it will happen. Differences in the surface markings from piece to piece will vary as stated previously for silver.
Silver Plated Cutlery
Discoloration of Fork Prongs
If the ends of fork prongs have gone a light gold, brown or blue/black colour with little or no evidence of this happening on any other pieces. This is silver tarnish caused by contamination of the silver with sulphides so forming a superficial film of silver sulphide. Initially the film is light gold in colour but with prolonged exposure will progress to a blue/black discoloration.
The standard test for tarnish is to clean a selected area if tarnishing is suspected with a silver cleaning agent such as a proprietary Silver Polish. A silver cloth may not be able to remove more advanced tarnish. Sulphides are always present to some extent in the atmosphere and in many foods (eggs & mayonnaise being the most potent), and because table fork prongs actually enter the main course foods they do become tarnished more than other items.
Surface Marking of Silver
Surface scuffing, scratches and small indentations can occur on items after little use, because silver is a very soft metal and from the very first-time items of silver or silver plated cutlery are put into service the characteristic white patina of silver will begin to develop. Marking takes place at different rates due to;
(a) the different uses that items are put to, and (b) variances in the contact of different pieces throughout washing, cleaning and general usage.
Surface scratches forming straight lines along a product or circular markings indicate that too abrasive a medium has been used during cleaning such as a grit contaminated cleaning cloth or a scouring pad.
How can I prevent my cutlery from tarnishing?
It is not possible to totally prevent silver or silver-plated items from tarnishing, only to take action which will slow the process down. This can be achieved by storing cutlery in a box or drawer in a room without a fire of any type and if possible choose one of the lesser used rooms. To reduce tarnishing effects by sulphides in food stuffs, wash cutlery as soon after use as possible. Using silver cleaners with anti tarnish additives will also help. We personally recommend our product CUTLERYMATE as this achieves both of the above, storage in a drawer and its anti-tarnish properties.
How can I clean tarnish from my cutlery, particularly that which occurs on the tips of fork prongs?
There are several methods available such as:
(a) Polishing powders and pastes. These are applied with soft clean cloths and it is important to ensure the cleaning cloth used has not become contaminated with any abrasive medium.
(b) Chemical dip solutions. Care should be exercised when using these: i) Items of silver or plated cutlery should not be left in the dip solution for more than 10 seconds. ii) Always thoroughly rinse the solution off the cutlery items after immersion. iii) Dip solutions should not be used to remove heavy tarnish because this may cause a matt finish to be created on the surface of the silver. iv) Under no circumstances should silver dip solutions be allowed to come into contact with stainless steel knife blades or stainless steel cutlery.
(c) Electrolytic method: Proprietary kits are available but it is also possible to carry out the process on a do it yourself basis. Make up a hot (not boiling) solution of 6g washing soda to 1 litre of water. Take a plastic bowl and place a piece of aluminium baking foil on the bottom of it. Fill with the hot washing soda solution and place cutlery items onto the foil (do not immerse knife blades in the solution). Tarnish will be removed electrolytically; when the aluminium darkens and goes brittle it has become defected and should be replaced. Keep the solution out of the reach of children and it is advisable to wear rubber gloves and to avoid contamination of the skin.
NOTE: It is recommended that following any cleaning with polishes etc., cutlery should be washed before re-use.
Can I wash my cutlery in a dishwasher?
Most of the cutlery we manufactured at our factory here in Sheffield, can be washed in a dishwasher provided the following instructions are followed. Special stainless steels, like martensitic, are generally used for knives to give them a longer lasting cutting edge and strength. However, these steels can become pitted if repeatedly left wet.
Always wash knives immediately when ever possible. We recommend placing them in the basket blade down. Do not leave them soaking or moist overnight or for long periods. We do not recommend the ‘rinse and hold’ cycle.
As soon as the washing machine has completed its cycle, remove knives and wipe them completely dry.
Always observe the dishwasher manufacturer’s instructions concerning the type and quality of detergent used and the method of loading cutlery in compartments provided.
Water with a high salt content is particularly corrosive to stainless steel. Dishwashers are sometimes fitted with water softeners which are regenerated with salt. After adding salt, it is very important to put the machine through the programme recommended by the supplier before washing.
Cutlery with handles of plastic should be washed at temperatures no higher than 40C or alternatively at the lowest setting available. Never use the hottest “pan cycle”
If any stains are produced by hard water or by other causes they can normally be removed by rubbing them with a non-abrasive cleaning paste or liquid.
How do I keep my Cutlery looking its best?
Wash as soon as possible in warm soapy water, rinse off all detergent before drying.
Never leave cutlery unwashed overnight as any salt and/or substances like mayonnaise left on may cause corrosion.
Always dry your cutlery; never leave it wet.
Don’t use harsh scouring agents or bleach.
Never leave cutlery in dishwasher; always dry with soft cloth.
We recommend you use a silver polishing cloth to remove any tarnish.
Finally, a reminder, NEVER use silver dip with or near stainless steel especially knife blades.
Repair & Refurbish
Speak to Us
Or if you have questions about our service, we’ve attempted to answer the most common ones on our FAQ’s page.
We’d love to here from you.
We look forward to being of service at Cutlery Hospital. We’ll give your cutlery some much needed ‘TLC’ and return it to you fully restored, to be enjoyed by generations to come.
White Rose Works, 137 Carlisle St, Sheffield S4 7LJ (With prior appointment ONLY)