How To Refine Silver Scrap

Are you running a pawnshop? Do you own a thrift store? Do you collect some jewelry pieces, either for business or hobby? If that is the case, then, you probably have a heap of silver scrap. If you are planning to refine them, here are two easy ways. Read on:

Version 1. This is quite simple and less time consuming. You can readily do it on your own. However, you have to realize that the process relies heavily on concentrated acid. So, anticipate the fumes to be produced. Since the fumes are essentially corrosive, you have to work outdoors and observe the necessary precautions. You also have to wear the proper attire.

  • Begin the process by putting your silver scrap into a container. Then, carefully pour some nitric acid into it. Watch as the silver scrap is slowly dissolved. Wait for a while. Afterwards, transfer everything into a new container. Leave behind or set aside the silver particles that were not dissolved.
  • Eventually, bring out your silver precipitant crystals. Add them to the dissolved silver particles. They are going to turn back everything into solid. Finish the process by washing your refined silver with water. Leave it to air dry. That’s it.

Version 2. Remind yourself to perform this outdoors. You should also remember to put on some protective gears. Wear a pair of gloves, too.

  • Once you are ready, transfer your silver scrap into a container. Then, dissolve it using nitric acid. You should do this quite cautiously. Nitric acid can readily harm your skin.
  • Be patient. Wait until all your silver scrap has been thoroughly dissolved. When that happens, pour all of the mixture into another container. Be very careful here. Make sure that no other particles are added into the mixture. That can contaminate (or ruin) the process.
  • Get some table salt. Sprinkle it into the mixture. Do it slowly. Notice that the quick formation of white clumps. Wait until the formation stops. Proceed by pouring off the remaining acid. Don’t include the white precipitations. They are pure silver chloride. By the way, you can add some baking soda if you wish to neutralize the remaining acid.
  • Continue by rinsing the white clumps (silver chloride). Put it under running water. After that, apply some lye (drain cleaner) to the white clumps. Use the Red Devil. That is the preferred brand for this process. The lye is already working when the white clumps begin to turn black. Again, put everything under running water. And finally, add dextrose (or Karo syrup) to the black clumps (silver oxide). You have successfully completed the process when they turn into pure silver.

The above refining procedures apply to pure silver scrap only. If your silver is mixed with gold, remember this rule. Make sure that the silver component is at least 80%. If there is more gold present, the dissolving process may be greatly affected. Also, since you are handling strong acids and chemicals, look after yourself. Never refine silver scrap without wearing a face shield, a pair of gloves, and a pair of goggles. Follow the instructions with extreme care.


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