Silver Nitrate Uses – and amazing, interesting facts

In the Laboratory

Test for the presence of Chlorine, Bromine and Iodine ions.
For example: White=Chloride, Pale Yellow=Bromide, Yellow=Iodide.
Test for the presence of Carbonate, Hydroxide, Sulfide and Phosphate ions.
For example: Pale Green=Carbonate, Brown=Hydroxide, Black=Sulfide.
Silver Nitrate is used to test the exact salinity of Sea Water. (it’s about 35 grams per Liter, by the way…)
Silver Nitrate is used in Oil Fields to determine the amount of Chloride ions in water and drilling fluids.

In Manufacturing

Silver Plating – electroplating Silver onto a base metal such as Nickel.
Mirrors – you can Google “Tollen’s Reagent” to learn all about this process.
Hair Dye.
Inks, like indelible, permanent fabric marker pens.
Explosives, like Silver Fulminate, Silver Azide and Silver Acetylide.
It prevents premature shrinking or dropping of buds and blooms, in cut flowers. (2.83% solution)
It inhibits cut flowers from making ethylene, which causes them to ripen.

In Biology

A stain for proteins and nucleic acids.
A stain in scanning electron microscopy.
Detecting Calcium in tissue samples. Google “Von Kossa’s Silver Nitrate” for more information.
To kill “Silvery Thread Moss” on golf greens – Use 8 grams Silver Nitrate per Gallon of Distilled Water, spray on moss.
NOTE: Be extremely careful not to get this solution on your skin, mark the bottle boldly and clearly!

In Medical History

A 1% Silver Nitrate solution was used as eye drops to prevent eye disease in newborn infants of mothers with certain infectious diseases.
For example, 1% solutions are effective against gonococcal bacteria. (1-2 drops were used)
Note: The above procedure began in 1881, it’s now obsolete. Today we use Erythromycin and Tetracycline
A Cauterizing Agent.
Dentists sometimes use it infused in swabs to help heal mouth ulcers.
Doctors sometimes used it to remove warts. (but I don’t know the procedure)
Taken internally, however, Silver Nitrate is a poison.
Ingesting Silver Nitrate causes bad abdominal pain and gastroenteritis.
The estimated lethal dose of Silver Nitrate is 2-10 grams. (between 1/3 to 2 teaspoons)
Note that Silver Nitrate has an extrememly bitter taste, even in small concentrations.
For example, this author (Rocky) has tasted it. It has a very foul taste!
Toughened Silver Nitrate is molded Silver Nitrate, hydrochloric acid and sodium chloride, called “Caustic Pencils” or “Lunar Caustic”.
Silver Nitrate tends to be very toxic to bacteria and other lower life forms.

In Photography

Very high purity Silver Nitrate is the starting material for all chemical based photography.
It’s not the Silver Nitrate that is light sensitive, it’s the Silver Halides that matter.
Film contains a carefully formulated coating of Silver Chloride, Silver Bromide and Silver Iodide.
The particles are ground to extremely fine particles, then mixed with a gelatin.
The gelatin is then rolled onto a clear acetate backing (the film base).
This process, in it’s entirety, is performed in complete darkness.

In Ceramics

Silver Nitrate is used when firing pottery in a kiln to make beautiful colors. (Raku Glazes)
For example: 1 gram Silver Nitrate in 50 grams Distilled Water makes a ‘Silver Wash’ for pottery.

Cautions – Silver Nitrate and your skin

Do not contact your skin with Silver Nitrate solutions.
If you do, the moment you go into sunlight, the exposed skin will turn black.
This unsightly, but generally harmless color will last for about 10 days.
There is no way to get it off, once it has turned black.

Preventing Silver Nitrate stains on your skin

Here is a neat trick – Do what I do – Rocky Patterson
1 – Dissolve 2 teaspoons of common table salt in 1 Cup of warm water.
2 – Place this Salt solution close by where you will be working with Silver Nitrate solutions.
Then, if you spill Silver Nitrate solution on your skin, do this:
1 – Stop what you are doing.
2 – Rub the Salt solution completely onto your skin, where you think the Silver Nitrate spilled.
3 – Rub HARD, get the Salt solution as deeply into your skin as you can. You can use a paper towel.
4 – Work quickly – you have about 10 seconds!
5 – After a minute or so, rinse off the Salt solution in plain tap water.
If you do this promptly, the Silver Nitrate will convert to Silver Chloride,
and your skin will not darken when you later go out into the sunlight!

Cautions – General

ALWAYS wear eye protection when working with Silver Nitrate.
NEVER work with Silver Nitrate without eye protection.
NEVER get Silver Nitrate powder or solutions into your eyes.
Silver nitrate, while not harmful to mammals, is highly toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms.
ALWAYS dissolve Silver Nitrate powder into Distilled Water (the kind at the Grocery Store).
NEVER use Tap Water when dissolving Silver Nitrate powder – it will turn ‘milky’ (dilute Silver Chloride).

Myth Buster – Silver Nitrate is Light Sensitive – BUSTED!

You see this non-fact all over the internet! (It drives this author, Rocky, crazy)
BALONEY is my answer to this myth!
Pure Silver Nitrate powder is not light sensitive.
Pure Silver Nitrate solution is not light sensitive.
I have worked with Silver Nitrate for many years,
In March of 2005, I placed 25 grams of my Silver Nitrate into a clear glass bottle.
1 – I placed the bottle in the window sill of an east facing window.
2 – The bottle is in full sunlight every morning that’s not cloudy.
3 – To this day, the Silver Nitrate is just as snow white as it ever was!
4 – Conclusion, pure Silver Nitrate is not light sensitive.
Note: If you ever had light sensitive Silver Nitrate, it was crappy, crummy, polluted, not Pure Silver Nitrate.