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How to clean your Ses

A Ses is a tray of traditional Zoroastrian items having symbolic importance, and used during various ceremonies and occasions. Most are made of silver or stainless steel, and is usually cleaned during Nowruz and the Parsi New Year. 

A pure silver Ses can tarnish easily, so here is my very easy and quick way to clean your items. This is great to do before lacquering, but will only work on a pure silver, uncoated Ses. This method of cleaning also works well with pure silver cutlery and jewellery, too!

You will need:

  • Large Stainless Steel Pot
  • Water
  • Approximately 10 small peices of ripped up foil
  • 3-6 heaped tablespoons or bicarbonate of soda
  • Long tongs
  • Tea towel - for drying

What to do:

Fill up a kettle or two with water. Add boiling water to the large pot and heat on the stove to boil water continuously.

Add  5 or so peices of foil and 3 heaped tablespoons of the bicarb of soda (save half for later).

Add your silver with the tongs (be careful not to burn yourself), a few pieces at a time, and leave in the boiling water for 10 - 20 seconds. Once tarnish has dissolved from items, remove with tongs and leave clean to dry on the tea towel.

After a while the foil will appear to be 'dirty' and speedy of reaction may have slowed down. Remove the dirty foil with the tongs, and add some more foil and bicarb of soda. Continue to clean items.

Once cleaned, rinse items with water to remove any excess bicarb, and leave to dry completely. At this stage you could spray on a clear lacquer to protect your Ses. Or, if you like the pure silver look like myself, leave as is and repeat process cleaning process in a few months.

What happens in the reaction: the clean foil reacts with the tarnished silver in an electrochemical potential reaction. With bicarb of soda in the water, the silver tarnish has the potential to be dissolved, and form an oxide on the Aluminium, leaving clean silver as the result. Too easy!