Remaking Old Magic with a Little Toothpaste and Elbow Grease

When I was a kid, one of my favourite chores was polishing silverware. I can't say how many times I was asked to do it, though it couldn't have been very many. Most of the time the good silverware lived in a heavy wooden chest on the top shelf of the hall closet, waiting patiently for a few holiday dinners a year. But every once in awhile it would be brought down and placed on the big table on an otherwise unremarkable Saturday, and I would be set up with a little blue tin of silver polish and a soft white cloth. I would methodically work my way through the curious array of oversized spoons and undersized forks and oddly shaped knives, genuinely enjoying myself. I wish I could say my pleasure came from being able to contribute to family celebrations, but the truth is that I just really liked watching the tarnish disappear beneath my fingers. It didn't feel like cleaning; it felt like I was conducting a ceremony to remove a curse. 

It felt like magic.

Decades later, I don't keep a silver chest in my own home. But when my mom moved a few months ago, I ended up with two silver... goblets? Flutes? Chalices? I don't know how different cup shapes are defined. Whatever they're called, they'd never been part of my polishing duties as a youth. But they were definitely in need of a little shining up now. 

I was excited to be on polish duty again, but I wasn't excited about the idea of the silver polish itself. In the years that have passed, much of the world and I have learned a lot more about how our everyday actions impact the environment. The thick smelly liquid I remembered no longer seemed like the best choice for the job. So I asked the internet for silver polish alternatives and found that toothpaste was on the list. Something that I put in my mouth twice a day already? Sounded good and non-toxic to me.

Sadly, I didn't think to take a true before shot, but here's an "in between" shot, after I'd cleaned the first cup but not started on the second:

Two silver cups sit side by side on a bathroom counter. One is heavily tarnished, the other is bright and shiny.

I was once again making magic, only this time it was minty fresh:

A tarnished silver cup, covered in white paste. A hand with a cloth is wiping away some of the paste, revealing bright silver beneath.

The article was very particular that the toothpaste had to be true paste and not the gel kind. It's important to have the right ingredients for the spell.

The tarnished base of a silver cup with paste spread on it. In one small section, the paste has been wiped off revealing bright silver beneath.

Ta da! 

Two freshly polished shiny silver cups lay next to each other on a blue placemat.

Now I just need to figure put what our our shiny goblet-chalice-flute-cups are actually called, and decide what suitably magical thing they should hold in their new home on our bookshelf. Suggestions on both fronts are welcome.