Can someone nutshell how to extract silver with nitric please

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Davomaiden

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So I have a bunch of silver plated utinsils and my nitric acid is coming in the mail how do I do this project successfully I tried doin the copper at the end to precipitate but I think it got screwed up because the base metal in the utinsils was copper so what is the best way way to do this properly and successfully is there an amount ingredient list like this much nitric for this many ounces of silverware if anyone can help I'd greatly appreciate it thank you all happy Thanksgiving to you all as well
 

Elemental

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I think you’ve probably paid more for the nitric than you’ll get back from the silver recovered from the plated item if you just soak them. I would look for a better recovery method on the forum first. Also please give Hoke a read to understand the processes. Save the nitric acid for actual refinement once you get the silver plate off.

Elemental
 

Martijn

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You could try a 'Tap water reverse electro plating silver cell':
Hang two pieces of plated silver in tapwater, put a couple of volts on it and watch the silver plate fall off one of the pieces as a white cloud of silver oxide. It will turn dark later. You can leave the other one in as a cathode. Study the threads about it here on the forum.

Filter the silver oxide when the jar is too full and save the filters wet until you're done.
Put the filters in a beaker and just barely cover them with distilled water and a bit of that nitric. Start with 10 or 20 ml.
The silver will turn into silver nitrate. Other oxides will/may convert to nitrates as well.
Filter the solution and rinse the filter with some hot distilled water. Cement the silver out on clean copper.

You'll save a ton on nitric and waste.

Add a little nitric to the filter with the black sfuff, rinse and see if any silver came out by cementing. Use less nitric this step. Repeat until no more silver comes out.
Add all rinse water to the cement beaker.
Wash the cemented silver well and melt.

That goes in a silver nitrate cell to get 99.9 pure crystals.

Martijn.
 

cejohnsonsr1

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I don't know how much material you have to work with, but plated stuff, in general, really doesn't have enough silver content to justify the cost of processing. Not trying to rain on your parade, but I tried it and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten an ounce of silver from 100 lb of plated scrap.
 

nickvc

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The problem with trying to recover silver from plated items in nitric is usually the mix of base metals that the silver is plated over, if the material has a copper base once that is exposed any silver already dissolved in nitric will cement out and the acid will preferentially dissolve the copper.
We encounter similar problems when dealing with e scrap as different substrates need different recovery processes hence the advice to keep materials separate .
 

Davomaiden

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I don't know how much material you have to work with, but plated stuff, in general, really doesn't have enough silver content to justify the cost of processing. Not trying to rain on your parade, but I tried it and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten an ounce of silver from 100 lb of plated scrap.
 

Davomaiden

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The problem with trying to recover silver from plated items in nitric is usually the mix of base metals that the silver is plated over, if the material has a copper base once that is exposed any silver already dissolved in nitric will cement out and the acid will preferentially dissolve the copper.
We encounter similar problems when dealing with e scrap as different substrates need different recovery processes hence the advice to keep materials separate .
I did have that problem when I tried to dilute some copper cord silver plated forks it cemented out and I didn't notice it until I put copper in at the end and nothing happened then I realized that the forks were core based copper so I did go through a situation with that
 

Davomaiden

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I know for a fact that there's much more than 1 oz per hundreds of pounds of silver plated I've watched several people pull many many ounces off of way less than 50 lb possible you didn't do the process right
 

galenrog

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I have tried numerous methods for removing silver plating from base metals. Thus far, no method attempted has been economical.

If recovery is incidental to use of the plated item, such as using silver plated copper buss bars to cement silver from nitrate solutions, then it becomes viable, but only if you get the buss bars free.

Time for more coffee.
 

nickvc

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The only way that I know of that works is a mix of nitric and sulphuric at high heat but personally I’d rather run blindfold across a busy highway than mess with those fumes o_O
 

cejohnsonsr1

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I know for a fact that there's much more than 1 oz per hundreds of pounds of silver plated I've watched several people pull many many ounces off of way less than 50 lb possible you didn't do the process right
Nothing wrong with the process. There just isn't that much silver to be recovered. Most plated materials (like utensils) are only plated a few atoms deep. Just enough to cover base form. If you look at most plated silverware you'll notice that the silver is worn off or scratched off on a considerable amount of the surface, leaving even less to be recovered. It's just not worth doing unless all you're trying to do is see how the process works. But in any case, Nitric isn't the way to go.
 

galenrog

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The technique does work well, Nick. It is, however, neither profitable nor is it relatively safe. Waste is also too great for me.

There are a lot of ways to deplate silver. None that I have tried are profitable when all factors are considered.

Time for more coffee.
 

Zhazham

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I saw a youtube video of removing silver plating with car battery and salt water. That's something i would try first and then dissolve resulting silver in nitric, cement it with copper and so on.

Once i made a mistake and added silver plated item with 830 silver in to nitric. It resulted some nasty looking yellowish sludge and lots of problems with filtering. I still don't know what it actually was but i'm guessing it was tin.
 

cejohnsonsr1

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Again, I wasn't trying to be rude or negative. It's just that I'd hate to see you do so much work for so little reward. Believe me. I did that. Try to get a piece of some sterling (925) to work with so you can get the process down pat and be able to feel like you succeeded when you're done. It's really pretty easy. Burn it (a spoon for example)1st to remove as much dirt and grease as possible. Then put it in some kind of heat resistant glass ware (a coffee decanter is good). Cover it about double deep with distilled water and add Nitric IN VERY SMALL DOSES so you can see the reaction but not risk a runaway or boil over. A good exercise is to weigh the spoon 1st and keep track of how much Nitric you add (just 2 or 3 ml at a time). Put it on a hot plate to speed up the reaction but be careful not to boil it too hard. You want to watch for the point where you have just a little bit of the spoon left but the reaction has stopped. Then you'll know all the Nitric has been consumed. Allow the solution to cool down a bit and then filter until it's as clear as possible. Dilute the solution with more distilled water. Then put a piece of copper in the solution and watch the magic happen. Leave it for a day. Pour off the waste in bucket for treatment. Thoroughly rinse the cement and you're ready to melt. Sreetips has a lot of excellent videos showing the process much better than I just tried to explain it. I highly recommend checking him out on YouTube.
 

rickbb

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On most silver plated flatware the silver layer is extremely thin. Just enough to give it the color. I've not found a way that makes if worth the time it takes, let alone any chemistry or electricity costs. Even at todays relativity high spot price of $22 ozt., still not enough value to justify the trouble. IMHO.

I get more return on plated flatware by making wind chimes and other "yard art" items from them. Takes less time and you can sell them for $10 to $20 each. Way more return than just the silver value and no heavy metal waste acids to deal with.
 

Geo

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Thickness of plating can vary depending on maker and vintage. In days past, people actually wanted stuff that you could polish and not wear off the plating. Later on when the "use and toss" culture came along, quality wasn't as important. Just like anything else, some is trash and some is better. Any process that creates waste that has to be treated and may cost more than the metal recovered, it would be better to pass it along to some one else. As soon as I find time, I will video the process of stripping silver and recovery.

A member here posted a process using copper persulfate as an electrolyte to strip silver. keeping a piece of copper out of the flow of electrons lets the silver cement out of solution just like cementing from a nitric acid solution. I can't find the post. There was pictures and descriptions.

Another process is the one Nick mentioned. It doesn't have to be hot. Heat just speeds up the process. The nitric acid content is low enough that a damp cloth and a rubber band is about all that's needed to keep the fumes down and work safely outside.

Sodium thiosulfate as an electrolyte will strip silver very quickly. I have used it to strip silver but did not complete the experiment through recovery. It can also strip gold under the right conditions.
 
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