Silver and Salt Exposure | Caring for Vintage Silver

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Longtime readers may remember a post I wrote over 18 months ago about an experiment with silver and salt exposure.  It was inspired by a conversation about being afraid to leave the salt in the salt cellar over the course of a dinner party.

While there is no doubt that long-term exposure to salt will cause damage to your silver such as corrosion and pitting, short term exposure will not.

Silver and Salt Accident…errr…Experiment

silver and salt

Oops..I found my salt spoon buried in this container. It had been there for just over two weeks as I’d put it away without realising the spoon was in it.

The crucial question, of course, is where is the threshold between long-term and short-term?  Last time I wrote about silver and salt, I had left my 1802 spoon in the salt for a week with no damage.

I’d love to say that in the interest of scientific enquiry I have repeated the experiment over a longer time frame…actually the truth of the matter is I was making a new flavored salt recipe and did not realise I buried my salt spoon into the salt container. Oops.

After more than two weeks of wondering where on Earth I’d put it, I opened up this less-frequently-used salt to find my spoon.  The funny thing is I didn’t even end up using this salt in my recipe…I have no idea how I managed to lose track of my spoon.

Happily, I’m thrilled to report it is still in the same condition.  No pits or corrosion.  It has had a thorough wash and is back in residence with the salt containers.

While I absolutely wouldn’t recommend leaving your silver and salt in close contact for that long, you can certainly stop worrying about silver and the salt cellar over the course of a day or two as the original experiment wasn’t a fluke.

What caused me to do something so silly?  Well, I was quite giddy over this recipe for lemon salt and I guess I just missed it.

silver and salt - lemon salt

My new container of lemon salt. Just a few grains add a burst of flavor.

Lemon Salt (click for printer-friendly version)

Use this intensely aromatic salt as a finishing touch.  Thus far we’ve discovered it’s divine on potatoes, tomatoes, and lentils.


  • 4 tbsp. good sea salt (I’m a fan of Sel Gris, which I used this time, and Fleur de Sel de Guérande)
  • 4 lemons of any variety

Using a fine zester, zest all the skin off the lemons.  Try not to get the white pith.  You want the aromatic oil of the skin, not the bitter pith, to flavor the salt.

Mix the salt and zest together.  Spread out on a piece of wax paper to dry for an hour or two, otherwise the salt ends up clumping together from the moisture in the zest.

Once dry, pour into an airtight container and seal until ready to use.  A few grains go a long way.


Do you know someone who suffers from silver and salt exposure anxiety?  Symptoms include whisking the salt shaker or cellar off the table immediately after dinner and instantly washing them.

Pass this post on and do your friends a favor!


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