Even today, pewter is a sought after material for dishes and plates. These have become popular because of the beautiful satin finish that the material has. To keep your pewter plates and dishes shiny and attractive, you need to regularly polish them. Here’s how.
Washing. Pewter is a sensitive substance that is especially prone to damages made by acidic foods. If you will use the plates for holding fruits and vegetables that have high acid content, such as citrus fruits, lemons, and tomatoes, or food that have been mixed with plenty of vinegar, be sure to clean the pewter immediately after use. Otherwise, the pewter surface will get pits from the corrosive effects of the acid. To wash the pewter, use mild dishwashing soaps and a sponge. Vinegar which is often used to clean cookware, should not be used in pewter, since the acid can pit the pewter.
Temperature. Apart from being sensitive to acidic substances pewter can also easily be damaged by too much heat. Because of this, you should take care when placing your pewter in the dishwasher, especially if your dishwasher does not have temperature control settings for the water. If this is the case, you should stick to washing the dishes by hand, using mild soap and lukewarm water. Washing pewter by hand is best since this is a very delicate material. Unlike other metals dishes, you should also make sure that you do not place the pewter utensils anywhere near direct heat such as over flames in the stove, or in the oven. This will easily melt the pewter.
Polishing. To polish the pewter, you should use pewter polish, which is especially made for these types of materials. Pewter polish can be purchased from shops that sell pewter pieces. If there is none available in your area, you can get your supply from the internet. Apply the polish with a soft and clean cloth. Avoid hard cloths and scrubbers such as nylon pads since these can create scratch marks on the surface of the pewter. Most pewter pieces also come with grain on the surface. Be sure to follow the grain of the pewter when polishing, otherwise scratches can form on the pewter.
Old pewter. The materials used for making pewter are tin combined with some antimony and copper. The copper and antimony are used to make the tin much harder. In the past, however, another material that was included in pewter is lead, which also makes the pewter harder. Lead, however, is toxic, which is why antique pewter is not recommended for eating but should only be displayed. If you have antique pewter, you will notice that a patina or dark layer will form on top. This should not be removed, since the patina actually develops to protect the sensitive inner layers of the pewter. Only use a soft cloth to polish these types of old pewter.
Keeping pewter from oxidizing and maintaining the satin sheen on your pewter plates and dishes is easy if you know how. With these in mind, you can keep your pewter looking new for a long time.