Serious Education ... plus the most fun you can have in metal finishing.
REMOVING SILVER FROM OLD SILVERPLATE HOLLOWARE
Q. I have a small collection of decorative silver plated items that I would like to sell if possible, or donate if not. Sadly, I've come to realize that they have virtually no resale value as is, since they are not rare or valuable antiques. Some are plated on copper. Considering the current commodity prices of both silver and copper, is there any technically and economically feasible way to separate the silver from the base metal for recycling of either material? At the very least, I would like to keep these items out of the landfill. Thanks so much for sharing your time and expertise, I really appreciate it.Paula K. Rasmussen
Retired IT Professional - Shoreline, Washington, USA
First of two simultaneous responses -- (2006)
The chemicals used to strip the plating off and reclaim them are corrosive or toxic or just not real friendly. It takes a bit of work to set up everything needed to do the job right. There is not enough silver or copper plated on your parts to make it worth it.
Second of two simultaneous responses -- (2006)
A. Hi Paula,
The amount of silver you could recover from silver plate would not be worth chemically stripping. You would have to buy the stripper, and dispose of the silver bearing stripper in the right manner. The collection may have copper value, depending on the total weight. Metal recyclers may be interested. Another option is to put a fair market value on the collection and like you say, donate it to charity for a possible tax deduction. Good Luck!
Process Engineer - Syracuse, New York
July 26, 2008
Q. I have a much larger quantity scrap plate I wish to recover. I have about 30 pounds military scrap silver plated ethernet connectors and the plating appears to be heavy. Silver spot is currently $17.34. I have Nitric and HCl acids and adjustable d.c. power supplies. I also have two years worth of college chemistry but that was 30 years ago. If needed I can make a fume hood I designed and I have a local company that can sell me an activated charcoal filter for it. What I would like to do is remove the plate without dissolving the underlying brass.John Cooper
- Houston, Texas , USA
November 15, 2008
Q. I am trying to decide if a commercial silverplate recycling operation could be financially profitable. I realize that the price of silver is low now and that the references to this idea in the past have been negative. Any ideas on this subject would be appreciated.Greg Harding
Recycler-startup - Shingle Springs, California
December 3, 2011
A. One way to go about removing silver from silver plate is the abrasive method, as silver becomes ever more expensive (today spot price is $32.64/oz 12/03/2011) the cost of recovering silver will be more economical. I recommend rigging an abrasive wire or grinder to wind or solar power, fit the item on a lathe and rig it to go back and forth and turn every so often, time is your enemy if you want it done fast because fast will cost you money, if you're willing to wait you can recover plenty of dust that can be collected (if contained properly) and then melted down with a home-built foundry. If you do not have any of these things or are not planning on building them anyway then this method is more costly than just selling it to a scrap recycling company.
I recommend the home built solution because in the end you will learn a new skill and become more self sufficient which will pay off more than any silver recovery process you may do.
- Honolulu, Hawaii
September 1, 2013
Q. I am looking for 2 things --
First will be antique hotel silver
Next I need to find the best indices and skill to fix small dents and then go on to replate the item.
I would love to get as many answers as possible.
- New York, New York
Recovering silver from hotel items
Q. Dear all,
I embarked on a project recently, renovation of hotel items namely wine buckets, wine bucket stands, trays, cloches etc. The assignment is to polish only and all the above mentioned items are silver plated Stainless Steel objects.
I started by stripping the silver off in a mixture of:
950 ml sulphuric acid and 50 ml nitric acid per litre and it works wonders.
Then we polish the objects and work is done.
However, I would like to know if there is a simple lab procedure or any, to extract the silver from the solution.
Plating shop Manager - Port-Louis, Mauritius