Make Silver Nitrate from Silver and Nitric Acid (Revisited)

Make Silver Nitrate from Silver and Nitric Acid (Revisited)


Warning: Nitric acid is corrosive, wear gloves when handling it. Nitrogen dioxide and monoxide are toxic gases. This experiment must be performed outside or in a fume hood. Greetings fellow nerds. I needed silver nitrate for some upcoming experiments and to restock my supplies. While it’s not exactly a hard chemical to obtain. I prefer to make it myself. Now I already made silver nitrate ten years ago so if you saw the original video then this will just be revisiting old science. But at least now we can do it in 4k high definition. First, we start with 75mL of concentrated nitric acid. You can also use diluted acid but you’ll need to readjust the stoichiometry. You want to have at least 2.5 molar excess of nitric acid. Now we need a source of silver and i’m going to use a one troy ounce silver coin. Although technically this is called a silver round. Silver bullion like coins and bars is the best source of silver for this experiment since it’s high purity and the cheapest form to get. The silver will react very slowly at room temperature, but it does react. So if you want you can simply leave this in the back of the fume hood for several days and eventually it’ll completely dissolve. Although you may need to add in some water occasionally if you see crystals forming and blocking the silver before it has been completely dissolved. In anycase, I am not that patient, nor is the memory on my camera that long. So i’m going to boil the solution to accelerate the reaction. As you can see, it takes a lot of heating before the reaction rate becomes reasonable. We need to reach boiling. And there we go. So what sort of reaction is happening. The silver is being oxidized by the nitric acid to form silver nitrate, water, and nitrogen monoxide or dioxide depending on reaction conditions. The first equation where we consume four nitric acid molecules for every three silver atoms tends to occur in cold and dilute nitric acid solutions. The second reaction where we consume two nitric acid molecules for every silver atom tends to occur in hot concentrated solutions like we have here. In reality both reactions are happening to some extent so if you precisely measure the reaction products at the end you’ll find it not being perfectly stoichiometric to either one. So it’s always good to run with a molar excess to be sure. The orange brown gas you’re seeing above the reaction mixture is nitrogen dioxide. Needless to say, nitrogen oxides are quite toxic, so this experiment must be done outside or in a fume hood. Now if you’re really crafty, you can use an airtight apparatus and lead the nitrogen oxides into water or hydrogen peroxide and regenerate the nitric acid. Personally, nitric acid is easy to obtain for me so I don’t bother. But if you use a lot or it’s very valuable to you then it may be something to consider. As the silver dissolves and produces silver nitrate some of the silver nitrate may precipitate back out. While this does not harm the reaction, excessive precipitation will block the silver from reacting further. So adding water occasionally to redissolve the silver nitrate is recommended. I’m adding in about 25mL of water. And there we go the silver nitrate is dissolving and the silver is now exposed again so it can react. Okay, so why would you want silver nitrate. Silver nitrate has a lot of interesting uses for both amateurs and professionals alike, so it’s a useful reagent to have. On this channel i’ve used it for simple photography, growing silver crystals, making silver conductive ink and making mirrors. So making silver nitrate is one of the basic experiments that amateur chemists do when just starting out. In fact you’ll find a lot of videos on youtube doing exactly this. Okay looks like all our silver is dissolved. I recommend heating until the solution itself is boiling to ensure that all silver particles are dissolved. Then turn off the heating and let it cool. Let the solution evaporate until dry and eventually you should have large crystals of silver nitrate. This reaction is very robust and the yield should be quantitative at about 49 grams of silver nitrate. Transfer it to storage container, preferably a brown glass container like this one to protect it from light. Silver nitrate is slightly photosensitive, so prolonged exposure to strong light will cause it to discolor. Anyway there you have it, the synthesis of silver nitrate. I’m going to use it in some upcoming videos like making silver powder. Thanks for watching. Special thank you to all of my supporters on patreon for making these science videos possible with their donations and their direction. If you are not currently a patron, but like to support the continued production of science videos like this one, then check out my patreon page here or in the video description. I really appreciate any and all support.

81 Comments

  1. Is there a way to get silver nitrate to deposit a thin dry film of silver on acrylic plastic? I'd like to do it for an art project.

  2. I want to lightly silver glass so it is semi transparent. I have only found full silvering info. Would I reduce the concentration of silver nitrate in solution or use a normal solution for a shorter duration? Thank you.

  3. Normally I would never be someone to go against warning labels but I would like to point out that maybe gloves should be (considered) as I found out the hard way. Long story short nitric acid + nitrile gloves = fire

  4. Helo sir i have qiestion about copper sulphate can you help me, what iz the most easiest way to recover copper from copper sulphate

  5. I once read about someone dissolving platinum by boiling the acid, using a water-filled RBF on top of the beaker as a condenser. While I could see this working for a few hours, eventually the steam bath would make it ineffective, yes? Have you ever seen or hear of running water "beaker condensers"? I suppose it would be possible to make one using the RBF method and a couple of water pumps with enough tinkering lol.

  6. I'd love to see a time-lapse of the solution cooling down. The formation of the crystals might look pretty nice!

  7. NurdRage, what are your thoughts on omitting gloves when dealing with concentrated nitric acid? Because of its violent reactions with latex and nitrile gloves, I see many people simply ignore gloves when handling concentrated nitric acid. One of my lab instructors at university even said as much, but told us it was university policy to always wear gloves in lab so it wasn’t up to him.

    Do you always wear gloves when handling conc. HNO3?

  8. I still remember the old one. I made some silver nitrate in my lab also . Did not make it a video though.
    Good to see your video again. I had seen your video 10 years back,which gave me the positive energy for making myself a chemistry lab in which I became successful and here I am 😊.please check out my small lab . Thanks again. Good luck

  9. If you dilute the acid 50/50 with water, the reaction will be over in just minutes.
    I do it inside an outer container with some water to cool the reaction vessel, absorb fumes and handle possible boiloverflows.
    And with a cover over the inner reaction vessel to limit gas outflow, so that the NO2 can redissolve to help with acid usage.
    Another cover over the outer vessel limits emission to the outside.
    If crystals are needed, the already hot and fairly concentrated AgNO3 solution won't take long to boil down…

  10. I had a titration lab today and silver nitrate stained my hands. Seeing the notification on phone for this video was almost like a sick joke.

  11. Chemistry is so fascinating so I really appreciate NurdRage and all his hard work. I am seriously thinking of becoming a supporter of this awesome channel. I know of no other hopbby chemist who puts up videos with this level of detail so loosing this guy because of a financial burden on him and his family is not acceptable . We all can contribute a few dollars per month. Much appreciation Mr. NurdRage.

  12. These are the kinds of videos that sparked my obsession with chemistry. I would love to see more like this. Maybe you could revisit your luminol synthesis. It would be interesting and entertaining to see what you would do differently.

  13. Right off the start, if you are using hi-test nitric DO NOT wear cheap gloves!!!!! With hi-test, the gloves (nitrile, PVC, latex) will catch fire and melt actually making it worse. Not so with proper acid gloves, so if you do this wear the good acid gloves.

  14. BTW, add some hydrogen peroxide to the reaction to get a more effective oxydising reaction, and nitric acid will be reacted will formed inside the reaction from the NO2

  15. I'm currently working on some projects with cold solder adhesives which are fairly pricey online. No doubt the silver power process is a good place to start.

  16. I had a bad case of ingrown nail on my left toe twice. The first time a doctor prescribed stick of this shit, I had to shove it inside of that wound full of puss in order to kill the part of bed nail. It was *painful*. After several applications the flesh around the nail turned black, and after several more it dried out and look literally as if it was burnt, like a piece of charcoal. The second time a surgeon cut it out or something, I don't remember. Cut your nails properly and don't wear shoes that are smaller size than required.

  17. Fun fact I learned from someone that uses electrowinning to produce high purity silver +99.99%; high purity silver nitrate is not photosensitive. Impurities found in AgNO3 cause the darkening.

  18. can you do a video of silver plating for an amateur? I've got a beautiful shifter handle i'd like to plate in silver to stop it from rusting.

  19. why in the fuck haven't i seen a video from you pop up in like 2 years? great algorithm youtube. also i am unsubbed now? ffs

  20. I don't know if this is a stupid question or not but, since copper is a good conductor, would high copper infused water be more conductive than just regular water? Like, would it conduct heat better than regular water?

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