Silver nitrate uses can be basically classified into two principal categories namely, industrial uses and medical uses. However before we proceed to the uses of silver nitrate let us get to know more about the compound. However if you already know about the properties and production of the compound, directly proceed to the silver nitrate uses.
Silver nitrate as mentioned above is a precursor of many different silver compounds. Thus one of the most important silver nitrate uses is manufacturing of other silver compounds. The molecular formula of silver nitrate makes it a very useful compound with a wide spread utilization in many different fields. The solid form of silver nitrate depicts, silver ions in a three-co-ordinated, trigonal planar arrangement.
Properties of Silver Nitrate
The following are some of the chemical properties of silver nitrate.
169.87 g mol-1
212 °C, 485 K, 414 °F
444 °C, 717 K, 831 °F (decomp.)
Solubility in Water
Soluble in ethanol and acetone
The physical properties of silver nitrate are as follows.
Solid silver nitrate appears in the form white crystals. This form of silver nitrate crystals are odorless and colorless. The solid form of this compound, that has an appearance very much like salt, is stable at room temperature. This compound easily dissolves in alcohol, acetones and water. One should never consume silver nitrate as it has some or the other toxic effect on the human body. Initially used as a disinfectant, the amazing properties of this compound have increased the areas in which silver nitrate is used.
Silver Nitrate Production
The process of production of silver nitrate is pretty easy and straight forward. The most common process that is used to produce silver nitrate is to dissolve a silver foil in concentrated and pure nitric acid. The solution is then let to evaporate and leaving behind the crystals of silver nitrate, which are also known as 'silver salt'. The following reaction takes place during the formation of silver nitrate.
Ag + 2 HNO3 → AgNO3 + NO2 + H2O
It must be noted that this reaction always takes place below a fume hood due to the evolution of nitrogen oxide.
Medical Uses of Silver Nitrate
The following are some prominent silver nitrate uses in the field of medicine.
Infant Eye Drops: One of the earliest uses of silver nitrate was that it was used in the manufacturing of infant eye drops. The infant eye drops that contain silver nitrate were used for the first time in 1881. These eye drops were administered to small babies in order to prevent any kind of hereditary eye infection that may be transmitted by their mothers. This preventive remedy is however, not used in today's times. Test results show that eye drops that contain silver nitrate are highly instrumental in eliminating gonococcal bacteria that causes eye infection.
Cauterizing Agent: Silver nitrate is used as a cauterization agent for procedures that are used to remove warts.
Dentistry: Silver nitrate is also used by dentists in order to heal ulcers that are seen in the mouth. To know more you may also read:dental care.
One must always remember that though silver nitrate has a tendency to eliminate unicellular organisms like bacteria, it should not to be consumed at any cost, and eye drops containing silver nitrate should not be administered without the prescription of a doctor.
Industrial Uses of Silver Nitrate
The following are some of silver nitrate uses in manufacturing industry.
Plating: Silver nitrate is effectively used in the process of electroplating. Silver nitrate is usually used in order to electroplate silver on to nickel. This type of plating is usually used to manufacturejewlery and wrist watches.
Mirrors: One of the most prominent process that utilizes silver nitrate, is the 'Tollen's Reagent', where the rear side of a mirror is coated to give a clear and detailed reflection. The silver nitrate coating that is applied to the mirror is known as the 'reflector'.
Dyes and Inks: Apart from industrial uses such as plating, silver nitrate is also used in a variety of dyes and inks that include hair dyes, permanent fabric markers and indelible inks.
Explosives: Silver nitrate is also used in many different explosives that include Silver Fulminate, Silver Acetylide and Silver Azide.
Photography: Silver nitrate is used in very small quantities in chemicalphotography. The crystals of silver nitrate are finely crushed and are then used with gelatin to make the film base.
Ceramics: Silver nitrate is also used in the filed of ceramics to make different colors while firing pottery. Read more onsilver - the element.
Apart from the above industrial uses small quantities of silver nitrate is also used by botanists to prevent premature shrinking of flowers, buds and blooms. Silver nitrate is also used extensively in different chemical experiments. However, one must be absolutely careful while handling silver nitrate, especially silver nitrate solutions. Silver nitrate solutions when exposed to sunlight and skin are capable of damaging the skin and causing hyper-pigmentation.