Sodium Nitrite: How Does it Affect Your Silver?
What is the connection between sodium nitrite and your silver? You may be familiar with sodium nitrite as a carcinogenic food preserver commonly found in processed meats. What you may not know, however, is that this substance is also an ingredient in certain anti-tarnish packaging products available today.
So what? Well, utilizing anti-tarnish packaging that contains sodium nitrite means handling packaging that contains ingredients that are harmful for human consumption. According to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), sodium nitrite causes nitrosamines to develop in the human body which increase cancer risk when ingested. In particular, there are several anti-tarnish papers, poly-films, and bags made from such materials, that contain this ingredient and are used to store silver items in an effort to prevent them from tarnishing.
But why would anyone want to store their silver and other valuable metals with these anti-tarnish papers that contain sodium nitrite and other volatile chemicals that coat the surface of metals?
Well, just as it is harmful for human consumption, it is also detrimental for your silver jewelry and metal valuables. These types of prevention papers contain sodium nitrite because it creates a gaseous coating on the item in need of tarnish protection. These anti-tarnish storage products are potentially toxic to the user as well as the item being protected.
In fact, these hazardous "protection" materials do more harm than good and will cause you problems in the long run. In some metals, these materials actually increase the rate of corrosion.
Although these types of anti-tarnish papers may claim to be "nitrite-free", they actually add sodium nitrate as a raw material, not sodium nitrite. However, when you heat sodium nitirate above 230 degrees Fahrenheit, which occurs with these types of products, it changes into sodium nitrite.
The bottom line is to be safe. Always choose an anti-tarnish storage product that is non-toxic and will not coat or harm you or your metal valuables. Why worry about potentially toxic ingredients when you don't have to? Protect your own health as well as the health of your jewelry merchandise and the environment by using nitrite and nitrate-free packaging.