Eli5 How does warm water, baking soda, and aluminum make some metals nice and shiny?


Additionally, how come it only works with some metals?

In: 1

What makes the metals not nice and shiny is oxidation. When you put tarnished (oxidized) silver in to a bath of baking soda and water and then add aluminum, you’re essentially making a battery (aluminum-silver oxide specifically).

The oxygen would MUCH rather be with the aluminum and you’ve created the perfect environment to allow it to move. The oxygen moves over the to the aluminum and you have black aluminum and shiny silver instead of the other way around.

The reason it only works with certain metals is that not all metals are different enough to make the battery, and the oxygen must love the shiny metal more than the one you’re wanting to make shiny.