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tline3open  Camphor vs. Tarnish

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Author Topic:   Camphor vs. Tarnish
WGS

Posts: 136
Registered: Oct 99

iconnumber posted 02-05-2003 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for WGS     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Occasionally I see suggestions about storing a block of camphor in a silver chest in order to inhibit tarnishing. On the other hand, most articles about silver care don't mention this technique. Does the technique work?

We need information from some of you chemists again and not just anecdotes.

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Stephen

Posts: 625
Registered: Jan 2003

iconnumber posted 02-06-2003 01:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There may be a connection to Parkesine (invented 1840) and Celluloid (patented 1869) cutlery handles. Celluloid contained camphor, Parkesine did not. Just a guess, I defer to the organic chemists out there.

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DaleNelson
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iconnumber posted 02-06-2003 02:44 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I keep my silver in a Korean merchants tansu that is made out of camphor wood. I always wrap it in fabric as camphor can leave a stain or oily residue. The silver remains bright and shiny. Just what we need, another anecdote.

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Bob and Carol Carnighan

Posts: 63
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 02-06-2003 03:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob and Carol Carnighan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We once went to an estate tag sale where camphor was kept in the silver cabinet. It is not obvious to me (Ph.D., organic chemistry, Illinois) why camphor would prevent tarnish. It has only one active functional group (a ketone) and would react much like acetone. Camphor might have been used to keep bugs out of rarely opened containers.

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Arg(um)entum

Posts: 304
Registered: Apr 2002

iconnumber posted 02-06-2003 06:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Arg(um)entum     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is an unrelated discussion that may shed some light on the question.
Camphor and Rust click here!

Extracts: "It works by displacing moist air and coating the tools ..."
"..camphor has a fairly high vapor pressure and forms a 'greasy' coating ..."

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Stephen

Posts: 625
Registered: Jan 2003

iconnumber posted 02-07-2003 01:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Would anything happen if I kept camphor in a container with Parkesine or Celluloid? Would it make it less brittle or less prone to cracking?

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doobees

Posts: 277
Registered: Jan 2003

iconnumber posted 02-07-2003 10:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for doobees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
well, my brother the science teacher said: " camphor has the ability to bind with hydrogen sulfide gas. Charcoal does the same thing. That will keep the silver from tarnishing."

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Arg(um)entum

Posts: 304
Registered: Apr 2002

iconnumber posted 02-07-2003 01:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Arg(um)entum     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
    "Would anything happen if I kept camphor in a container with Parkesine or Celluloid?

I don't know the chemistry but would be extremely wary. You might try a long term controlled experiment with some inexpensive items if you have any. But I wouldn't risk anything good. A quick scan of the first few entries Google brings up includes:
... used ... as a plasticizer in cellulose nitrate plastics..."
"... used in the manufacture of celluloid and explosives..."

This reminds me too much of the damage suffered 20-30 years ago by so many stamp collectors when it turned out that
the newly introduced plastic mounts contained plasticisers that attacked the dyes.

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Louise

Posts: 22
Registered: May 2001

iconnumber posted 02-17-2003 10:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Louise     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi,

I have dealt with a few dealers who have used camphor to retard tarnish, it does work but with a price. The smell of the camphor is absorbed into the silver and is very hard to remove. Think about the nice flavor it would add to your food. Yuck!

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