How to Separate Copper from Silver
A discussion started in 2008 & continuing through 2017October 1, 2008
I have been plating out metallic silver from waste silver nitrate solution for some time just using copper rods and washing and drying, but have left the copper for too long this time and have allowed my precipitate to become badly contaminated with metallic copper.
Have you guys got any advice on a simple way to separate the two metals?
Also as I am always running the risk of this happening, is there a simpler, more efficient way of doing this process?
Metallurgist, but no chemist.
Metallurgist - Plymouth, UK
October 5, 2008
It would be a good idea to stop electrolising silver nitrate. If you allow the process to continue when the silver is depleted, the nitrate can break down to ammonia, react with the silver and produce very sensitive and highly explosive compounds.
This happened not so long ago in UK. It resulted in a visit from the Bomb Squad and a HSE prosecution.
The simpler, safer and cheaper way is to simply throw in some ferrous scrap (wire wool)
Since you presumably are going to sell the silver scrap anyway, the best solution is to contact one of the precious metal refiners and let them collect the scrap solution.
Don't expect to get rich from this exercise, the price of scrap silver makes it barely worth the effort.
October 6, 2008
Oh Gawd, Really? - I'll stop doing that then.
Do you think the wire wool will work as well?
As for sending off the solution to recyclers, I've being melting into ingots for (probable, when I find the time) jewellery purposes, so I'm not too worried about that.
Thanks anyway for the quick response.
Ship Repair - Plymouth, UK
October 31, 2010
A. You can basically start over, by dissolving your precipitate in Nitric Acid. Once dissolved just hang a piece of copper in the solution and precipitate out your silver. Hope this helps. -Marine.Beu Randall
- Des Moines, Iowa, USA
June 13, 2017
A. Use pure sodium chloride or solution thereof (if using table salt be sure to use iodide free and decant the liquid off of the silica) and add it to the silver nitrate solution. You will form silver chloride precipitate. Using sodium hydroxide pellets (sometimes sold as drain cleaner) make a 6 molar solution and add it to the dry or damp silver chloride. Heat gently and slowly add sugar. This will reduce the silver chloride to metallic silver. Rinse several times with RO or DI water to remove excess NaOH and sugar.S Korecki
- Twin Falls, Idaho USA
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