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topic 42694

Removing Silver from old silverplate holloware

A discussion started in 2006 but continuing through 2019


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

simultaneous 2006

A. Paula,


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.

Trent Kaufman
Trent Kaufman
   electroplater - Galva, Illinois


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!

Mark Baker
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.

Drew Manupupule
- 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.

Courtney Arnot
- New York, New York

Recovering silver from hotel items

September 24, 2013

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.
Thank you.

Rhiaz Muhammad Subdurally
Plating shop Manager - Port-Louis, Mauritius

August 14, 2019

Q. I have silver plated scrap materials. But how can I strip the silver metal from scrap materials and how to recover the silver metal from silver scrap solution? Please suggest any suitable method for me.

- Bangalore, Karnataka,India

August 2019

A. Hi Muniraju. This is awfully broad. Some silver plating is not economically feasible to recover, and for the rest it depends on the thickness. Different stripping methods may also be required depending on the base metal. There are booklets which might be helpful like ISSN 01400541 "Small Scale Silver Refining" available in libraries, but I think the important things are to not buy silver scrap unless you know what it is, and to acquire some experience before getting involved in large quantities. Another issue of course is that this can be dangerous, depending on the knowledge and facilities you can bring to bear upon the problem. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

September 14, 2019

Q. Any silver stripper solutions is there to remove the Silver content in plated parts or scrap materials.

MUNIRAJU R [returning]
- Bangalore, india

September 2019

A. Hi again cousin . If at all possible try to get access to the previously mentioned booklet. Otherwise, you can search this site for "silver refining" and "silver stripping" to find dozen of threads ... but it's hard to learn a subject by bouncing around instead of through tutorial instruction.

There is no universal stripper where you just throw your scrap into a single vat and out pop stripped parts and pure silver. The stripping method depends on whether the silver has a clearcoat/lacquer on it, whether the substrate is nickel silver vs. copper alloys vs. steel vs. sterling silver, or something else. It depends on whether it is practical to use electricity, whether you can use cyanide-based processes, and whether you are trying to preserve the substrate (such as a brass musical instrument) or it's okay to dissolve/melt it as scrap. My understanding is that most silver refining starts with melting the scrap rather than stripping it, but it does seems that if you can segregate it based on the factors listed above, it may be possible to strip the silver off as a first step instead.

I don't want to be unkind, but you need to invest more time. This is a mutual help forum not a consulting service, and you've submitted requests for help 14 times but offered none; typos in your e-mail address on several of those postings (including this one) meant our return e-mail bounced and you didn't even hear when we posted your inquiries or readers responded; we've requested that you describe your own situation, but you submit abstract questions. Please take the time to carefully describe who you are, the source of these parts and/or scrap (and their scale), your general thoughts on what you are trying to do and feel you can do ... and double-check your e-mail address. Thanks! :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

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