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topic 0415

How to Plate Silver onto Glass

A discussion started in 1996 and continuing through 2016.
Add your Q. or A. to restore it to the "Current Topics" discussions.


Q. I have been having problems plating silver on glass. I am using two solutions I found in a book. Solution A is composed of ammonium hydroxide and silver nitrate. Solution B is water and hydrazine sulfate. When I place the glass in the two solutions some silver plates out but the quality is poor (no shine) and the adhesion is very poor. I have tried cleaning the glass with ammonium hydroxide and drying. I have also tried lightly etching the glass in a strong solution of sodium hydroxide. I also tried heating the glass. So far, I have been unsuccessful. I do not want to use the "formaldehyde" process because I am nervous about fulminating silver which is one of the by-products. Can anyone help me?

Leo Lamar


A. You are already using "fulminate of silver" if you made a solution of silver nitrate and ammonia. The hazard only exists when the solution dries out. The dry crystals are very unstable, from what I've read. However I have no direct experience.

Moving on to applying silver to glass: The reaction between silver fulminate solution and a reducing agent is widely used to coat a lot of items with silver. My company buys a commercially available system that works great. We coat wax shapes with silver this way, then plate copper on top. The trick is to apply it from a two headed spray gun. The silver comes out of one nozzle and the reducer out of the other and you place the item to be silvered where the sprays meet.

Bill Vins in hot humid Mesa (What a place-a) Arizona

bill vins
Bill Vins
microwave & cable assemblies
Mesa (what a place-a), Arizona 

sidebar (1996)

!! I know a person who has lost an eye because he allows dries out a solution containing silver nitrate and ammonia. Be careful!

Miguel Flesia
- Argentina


!! An amplification of caution written by other respondents: Use extreme caution as these silver fulminates are extremely unstable when dry or almost dry. They are extremely explosive and all due caution must be used.

ed budman
eb sig
Ed Budman
- Pennsylvania


A. To plate silver onto glass, you need to try vacuum deposition. The item to be coated is placed into a vacuum chamber, and metallic silver is vaporized within the chamber. A fine, shiny, tenacious layer of silver will deposit itself onto any glass item within a few inches of the silver. This is how mirrors are coated for lasers and telescopes. I suggest that you try any local college physics or astronomy department to see if they have a sputter coater.

Franklin Roberts
- Austin, Texas


A. In my country a lot of copper (then silver) is plated on glass for decorative parts. It is done by using a conductive paint. It is a very simple procedure.

sara michaeli
sara michaeli signature 
Sara Michaeli
chemical process supplier
Tel-Aviv, Israel


A. You use a wrong method the right is the use of glucose+NH3+AgNO3+NaOH THIS METHOD will give you best result.

Maher Shaker Afifi
- Cairo, Egypt


A. Ammoniacal Silver Nitrate Solution

20 drops Sodium hydroxide, 10%
- 20 ml Silver nitrate, 5%
- a few drops Ammonia water, 50%
- 30-40 ml Distilled water

NOTE: All glassware should be chemically clean. This solution must always be freshly prepared. Add 20 drops of sodium hydroxide to 20 ml of silver nitrate. Add 50% ammonia water drop by drop until there is a layer of granules left on the bottom of the cylinder. The ammonia water should be fresh and only a minimal amount used. Add distilled water to make 60 ml. Prepare just before use.


1% Periodic Acid
1.0 g Periodic acid
100.0 ml Distilled water

2% Silver Nitrate
2.0 g Silver nitrate
100.0 ml Distilled water

Formalin Solution
30.0 ml Stock formalin
70.0 ml Distilled water

0.2% Gold Chloride
10. 0 ml Gold chloride, 1%
40.0 ml Distilled water

5% Sodium Thiosulfate
5.0g Sodium thiosulfate 100.0ml Distilled water


NOTE: It is absolutely essential that all glassware be acid cleaned with concentrated nitric acid and rinsed in several changes of chlorine-free water:
1. Heat slides on 60ºC to 80ºC hot plate for 10 minutes.
2. Cool.
3. Treat in periodic acid for 15 minutes.
4. Rinse in distilled water.
5. Stain in silver nitrate for 30 minutes.
6. Rinse in distilled water.

If sections appear to loosen, blow dry and refix on hot plate. If sections loosen later, refix longer.
7. Stain in ammoniacal silver nitrate for 15 minutes.
8. Rinse quickly in distilled water.
9. Fix in formalin solution for 5 minutes.
Wash in distilled water for 3 changes. Tone in gold chloride for 2-5 minutes. Wash in distilled water. Bleach in sodium thiosulfate for 5 minutes. Wash in distilled water for 10 minutes. Blow dry. Mount.

mitri maalouf
Mitri Maalouf
- Lebanon

May 25, 2014

A. You may want to try my method ... wash with dish soap and distilled water then spray on diluted Stannous chloride, to "tin" the object; this gives the silver something to stick to. You can make your own simply by putting a piece of 80%(+) tin solder in a jar of muriatic acid (pint?)let it set for a week then strain with a coffee filter and funnel into another plastic container. Seal tight, buy a gallon of distilled water, splash some off the top and add about 1/4 cup of the stannous chloride to the water. Fill a spray bottle with solution and spray object to be silvered. Wait 30 seconds, now rinse with distilled water and apply your silver nitrate and reducer. If the distilled water does not sheet well or pits when rinsing add 2 caps of alcohol to the a quart of distilled water and rinse with that. Then apply silver. Good luck

Ken Barnett
The Studio of Hope Corporation - Albuquerque, New Mexico



naresh patel
nilam laser - India

March 16, 2016

Q. How to activate Wax by spraying silver nitrate and ammonia or hydrazine?

ali rezat
- tabriz,iran

March 2016

? Hi Ali. Mitri and several others have spent a great deal of time offering their help. Please acknowledge it by carefully defining how your own issue differs, such that you think their detailed suggestions are inapplicable in whole or in part.

Yes, you are treating wax rather than glass, but you seem to have left out the heart of the matter, i.e., what are you doing? Is this a sculpture made of high temperature wax, that you will next be clearcoating for a "chrome" look (if so, you probably need a base coat first), or is it just a temporary mandrel for an electroform? (If so, why this approach instead of conductive paint as Sara suggests?) After the wax has been metallized, are you done, or will you be electroplating on it, or applying mirror blackening paint, or what? Is this strictly a one-off effort of a hobbyist, or is it a high-production situation such as making audio records? For the best answers, please make your question longer than my response :-) Thanks!

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

March 20, 2016

Q. Hi
I make sculptures with silver and gold electroforming. Use to activate the wax surface of silver nitrate and hydrazine spray. As Best Supporting creates quality.
That's why I need to know exact terms and substances and other substances that I should [use for] this method.

ali rezat [returning]
- tabriz,iran

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