Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tarnishing from Cloth?

Anti-tarnish shield (being applied here) can get worn away by some cloths and chemicals.
We stopped in to the repair shop this week, and our repair technician told us that she had a customer who called with a tarnishing problem.  She said the customer had used a treated polishing cloth and could not understand why her flute was tarnishing right after she polished it with the cloth.  We knew quite well that our repair technician frowns upon flutists using anything other than a plain, microfiber cloth on their flutes, so we thought this would be a good chance to find out more about the "perils" of the treated polishing cloth.

Our repair technician told us that the treated polishing cloths contain polish, and polish is abrasive.  So, if you are using a treated cloth, you will wear away the protective anti-tarnish shield that covers the flute.  Once the anti-tarnish shield is worn away, the flute is prone to tarnish faster.  So, even though the customer had just polished her flute, it was shiny -- but it was also vulnerable to tarnish faster, and that is exactly what happened!

Our repair technician tells us that tarnish is "a personal thing," and that some people have a body chemistry that makes their flutes tarnish faster, and some people have flutes that never tarnish.  However, we do know that anything that would wear away or dissolve the anti-tarnish shield is not good for your flute.  As mentioned above, polishes and cloths treated with polish are abrasive and will wear through the protective coating.  If you use alcohol on your lip plate to clean it, that is okay -- as long as you use it only on the lip plate.  Make sure never to wipe the rest of the flute with alcohol, because alcohol will dissolve the anti-tarnish shield.

If you are curious as to what the anti-tarnish shield is, we have a previous post on it, which you can read by following this link.  We realize that having a shiny flute is nice, but make sure that you are using only a plain cloth  to shine it -- and nothing that will eat through the flute's protective anti-tarnish coating.

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