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topic 23519

Silver plating with silver nitrate

A discussion started in 2003 but continuing through 2017


Q. Dear Sir,

My friend wants to do silver plating with silver nitrate. He needs your help. If he wants to make silver cyanide from silver nitrate, how to does it?


- Shahinshahr, Esfahan, Iran


A. Dear,

For silver plating, use of cyanide is common and you can find silver cyanide in every shop, but if you want to get silver cyanide from nitrate, mix the 2x molar equivalent of sodium cyanide with silver nitrate to have Ag(CN)2 complex. Be careful from cyanide gas that may release from acidic solution and may kill your friend!

Vahid Hosseyni
- Tehran, Iran


A. Good advice, Mr. Hosseyni. When an experiment has a great possibility of very dangerous or serious result, it can be foolhardy to try to read about how to do it. Hashemi should have personal hands-on instruction, not free Internet advice, before working with cyanide.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


Q. Dear Mr.Mooney Can I do silver plating with silver nitrate? Thanks

- Esfahan


A. Not exactly. Although it is possible to apply a silver coating from a silver nitrate bath and a reducing agent (2-part silvering solution, Brashear process), to my knowledge it is not possible to do real silver electroplating from anything but silver cyanide or proprietary solutions.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

October 18, 2009

Q. For an art project we are trying to silver coat copper items, and think silver nitrate would work as the source of silver. But what current do you use to move the silver to the copper?


Bryon Hancock
student - Milwaukee, Wis

October 19, 2009

A. Hi, Bryon. You don't need electricity. The inherent nobility of silver compared to copper provides the electrical energy. Please see our FAQ: "Silver Plating at Home". Good luck.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

October 23, 2009

A. Immersion silver plating bath-your object must be grease and oxide free! 15 gm silver nitrate/30 gm sodium thiosulphate/10 gm ammonium chloride/1 lit water. Dissolve nitrate in 50 gr water,add ammonium chloride dissolved in same amount of water,and then add thiosulphate dissolved in 900 ml water. Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia


Q. Please supply some instructions on the process of immersion silver coating from a silver nitrate bath and a reducing agent (2-part silvering solution). What is the reducing agent to be used? Is this a simple dipping process or is electrolysis still involved? Would this be a suitable process for making small repairs to the coating on silver plated items, due to wear or damage?

Philip Whitfield
Antiques - Johannesburg, South Africa


A. If you wish to put an immersion silver deposit on suitable metals (which would probably be copper and brass), please see our FAQ on Silver Plating at Home for an explanation and a long list of consumer products that do this. This coating is very thin, but it is real silver and it does not require electricity. I do not know if these solutions are based on silver nitrate, sorry; but they are based on some salt of silver.

2-part silvering solutions are used to apply silver to glass and other non-conductive materials. The reducing agent can be formaldehyde (carcinogenic) or safer proprietaries.

Please consider securing a proprietary metallizing solution. It is dangerous to experiment with home-brew silvering solutions because of the possibility of creating and leaving behind remnants of explosive silver fulminates.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

June 22, 2017

Q. An expired US patent #3406107 titled "Non-cyanide silver plating bath" in 1964 by IBM, it stated a solution only with Sodium phosphate 10%, ammonium phosphate 2%, silver nitrate 1%, and the rest water, with a current density of 15-45 mA/in^2.

It also states that "The silver deposits have been found to be in an unstressed condition and the extremely good throwing power of such plating solution has made it highly desirable for plating irregularly shaped objects..."

Any expert(s) would think it will work with satisfactory results?

Walter Ka Wai Chu
BDNC - Hong Kong

July 24, 2017

A. Phosphate based silver plating baths had been developed in the 19th century...
(Leonhard Elsner: 'Die galvanische Vergoldung und Versilberung sowohl Matt als glänzend'. 3. Auflage. Amelang, Leipzig 1856 (1.edition 1843)!(
Emanuel Schreiber: 'Vergoldungs- und Versilberungskunst durch Einlegen oder Anreiben'. Vogt, Weimar 1853 (
Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb,Croatia

sidebar2 July 26, 2017

thumbs up sign Wow, an unexpected answer from Croatia, a nice country I really want to go to one of the islands...

Thanks! I just bought the chemical and will have a try when I have time, and let everybody know the result.

Walter Ka Wai Chu [returning]
BDNC - Hong Kong

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