How to extract Silver from a Coin (or other silver containing material)


In this video we will extract silver
from a coin or another silver source. This method can be used to obtain nearly
pure silver when the silver is mixed in with other
metals. So you’re only going to need about less
than 20 milliliters of concentrated nitric acid and some silver coins or
another silver source. Please note that this experiment is more
fun than anything else and there will be a loss of silver in the process. It should also be noted that often the
amount of silver that can be extracted from the coin is less valuable than the
coin itself. First I added about 20 milliliters of
water followed by about twenty milliliters of concentrated nitric acid
and then swirl the solution around a little to mix it. Next I added a silver quarter to the
nitric acid. The nitric acid used here is in severe excess. I use the amount I did
for visual effect but it should be good for at least two quarters or multiple
coins. Also the purpose of diluting the acid is that the reaction with the
quarter is not violent. The reaction that is occurring is shown above. Silver reacts differently in hot
concentrated nitric acid than it does in cold or dilute nitric acid. So as you can
see in the equation above nitric oxide is produced. Nitric oxide alone is extremely toxic
and in the presence of air it produces nitrogen dioxide which you can see as
the brown fumes. For this reason it’s extremely important
that you carry out this reaction in a fume hood or a well-ventilated area. The color change is not due to the
reaction of silver with the nitric acid it’s actually due to the reaction of
copper with the nitric acid. After a while the solution will adopt a
more blue color. Once the coin is completely dissolved
and stopped bubbling add an equal volume of water. The solution is then filtered through
cotton to remove undissolved impurities. Small amount of water was then used to
wash of the container and to wash out the rest of the silver nitrate in the
funnel. Copper wire was then added to the
solution and it starts reacting. The reaction that is taking place is shown
above. The copper reacts with the silver nitrate in solution to displace the
nitrate ion and release silver metal. Another reaction that is
occurring is the reaction between copper and excess nitric acid. For this reason
it’s important to add an excess of copper in order to precipitate as much
of the silver as possible. Every so often you can poke the copper
pieces to dislodge the silver that has precipitated. You should also occasionally stir the solution. It is going to take quite a while to
react so I suggest leaving it here for a while and coming back. However eventually the reaction will be
done and you’ll know this one the bubbling has stopped and the solution is
cleared. The next step is to filter off the
silver. Pour through the filter paper let it drain and wash the empty beaker and
the silver precipitate several times using water. I used to squeeze bottle to knock down
the silver precipitate that was lodged on the side of the filter paper. The filter paper after draining was then
removed placed in a crystallizing dish and dried in an oven. This is what the silver looks like when
it is dried it looks like a nondescript gray powder which is quite different
from the metallic silver that you normally see. Now to reconstitute the
silver into the nice shiny metal that we normally see we need to melt it down. So
the first step is to add it to a crucible. Then using a torch the silver medal was
liquefied. It takes a little while for the silver to get up to its melting
point, so you’ll have to be a little bit
patient. I turned this crucible around as I was
melting it to form the silver into a large glob. I then poured the red-hot glob on to a
piece of wood for it to cool down. If you leave it in the crucible and let
it cool down it will stick to the crucible and be nearly impossible to
remove unless you shatter the crucible. This is what the final extracted silver
looks like. Note that this silver extraction is not
quantitative and silver will be lost in the process. I lost about ten percent of the silver
during the extraction process which is pretty bad. However this is most likely due to the
fact that I use much more nitric acid that I needed and I didn’t let the
copper sit in the solution long enough to precipitate all of the silver.

85 thoughts on “How to extract Silver from a Coin (or other silver containing material)

  1. you should have added a salt solution to the remaining silver/copper nitrate to reclaim 99% of the silver. the remaining silver in solution would have dropped as silver chloride which could then be converted to elemental silver.

  2. WAIT WAIT WAIT. Today's quarters are made of nickel and copper. So did you actually use a US quarter or a different coin?

  3. I have about 78 silver coins 400/1000 silver 600/1000 copper. Is it worth it to melt it and sell the silver by it's own? The coins doesnt have much value for collectors.

  4. THIS IS AWESOME, I currently am a chemistry student and I can get my hands on 70% pure nitric acid. Would that work ? Or do i need a higher concentration?

    Also, I was planing on using this on pre 1965 half dollars. ( 90% silver). would this be the best way to go about doing it?

  5. I think you have the best videos that are informative, yet simplistic to try at home with little to no knowledge in chemistry.

  6. Instead of using copper wire to precipitate the silver out, you could have just used something containing chlorine (sodium chloride, bleach, etc…). You'll drop out silver chloride, which can be melted, releasing chlorine gas and leaving near pure silver. It's less expensive and easier to do than the copper wire method, but both will work. Great video by the way, just thought add my two cents!

  7. Great video. Can you make a video on how to make a Silver Plating Solution for immersion electroplating, deriving silver from coins and scrap silver? Perhaps you can do this with gold too?

  8. I know he did this for teaching us, however like he said, I also recommend not to use a coin!!! Use sterling jewelry! Even a worn 1964 silver dime is worth a couple bux! Even its weight in silver it's usually a premium regardless, so say weight plus 5-10%, or if it's uncirculated it's a 5 dollar coin! Or even better if its a double die, or some error it could be worth hundreds!

  9. so i'm dutch and we have some coins in the old currency that we used that contain 67% silver by weight, does it matter what the other materials of the coin is ?

  10. Finally, someone who explains this process in quick and simple terms! And with a professional video, not like some guys who have never used a camera tripod or don't moonlight as Meth producers.

  11. I've watched server videos on silver and gold recovery, yours were the easiest to understand and follow

  12. Top shelf videoI wanted to say (but I may be wrong)you didn't really loose 10% of your silver it's still there in solution,Could you just add another coin,then some fresh nitric acid then crash out of solution the silver,)?I may be mistaken.But I must say very informative.What percentage was your acid ?

  13. Can you do a video on removing silver from silver citrate? You can see silver citrate on the ingredients of Nivea shower gel. Would be awesome if you could do it using the shower gel😀

  14. Hence why American pennies went to copper played zinc.. People melted them down and sold the resulting copper for some decent amount more

  15. Great presentation. Thank you so much for this.
    Question: US War Nickels minted from 1942 – 1945 were 35% Silver, 9% Manganese and 56% Nickel. Would this technique work on that metal combination? I have heard that refiners pass over the war nickels because the melt temperatures of the Silver and other metal(s) are too close, also that the manganese is extremely hazardous, toxic.

  16. You can also drop the silver with iodized salt wich will then turn it into silver chloride(looks like cottage cheese) and then get rid of the water and add in a 1to 20 part mix of 1(hydrochloric acid) and 20(DI water) into a flat dish and add zink powder until there is no white(silver chloride) left and then you let it sit over night and you will then have pure silver with no zink or copper contaminants and it should look just like cement

    Look for bubbles before you dry it out and if so let it sit until it stops…

  17. Coins almost always worth more as currency than the metals they're made out of. Otherwise nobody would use them as currency, they'd just extract the more valuable metals and sell or trade them, instead. This is why nations don't use gold coins any more – the gold was worth more by weight than the coins were supposed to be worth!

  18. What kind of oven would you use to dry Powders like this? Would a toaster oven work or would I need to purchase a laboratory grade oven?

  19. I know this is ages after the video was posted, but could you have increased your yield by letting the copper wire react with the solution in a flask with a stir rod to smash up the precipitated silver and remaining copper? Love your videos, just found this channel recently and I'm going through a bunch of your older material, still great stuff!

  20. Wouldn't HCl also work to separate silver from other metals and leave you with almost pure silver chloride which you can then add sodium hydroxide and dextrose to to convert silver chloride into fine particles of silver metal? I have also seen copper being used to form silver on the surface which then falls off.

  21. Hi, i have an issue to make a hot fire, hot enough so the silver powder will melt
    I use fire torch just like you, but the silver didn't melt
    Any tips ?? Thanks

  22. Hi, i have an issue to make a hot fire, hot enough so the silver powder will melt
    I use fire torch just like you, but the silver didn't melt
    Any tips ?? Thanks

  23. Hello thank u for these video but can u teach us the ways to test stones that contains metals like gold silver ect and thanks again

  24. I’ve got a photo showing essentially the same process and two different beakers with the same solution yielding two different results. Can I somehow show you and take a guess at what went right and what went wrong? Great video and great channel thanks for sharing with us!

  25. After the first silver extraction, add salt or hydrochloric acid to precipitate AgCl. Filter. To the AgCl, add NaOH in crucible and fire. Then add carbon powder and fire again to get silver metal missed in the 1st extraction. Some borax will help coalesce the silver. Dump while molten as you did first and wash in water to dissolve the borax & salt.

  26. Would be interested to see you do a video on the properties and uses of colloidal silver. All I know is it's sold by snake-oil merchants, and turns gullible people's skin blue.

  27. Do you know that in Thai, the word for the colour "blue" is literally "silver liquid/water"…

  28. One of your equations was wrong… it should be this… 2AgNO + (WTF) + eYe M (stuPid) = Couldn't understand 1 thing you said! … Always double check your work before you post it live.

  29. First I will add 20 ml of water
    Me: ok maybe I can try.
    Then I will add 20ml of CONCENTRATED NITRIC ACID
    Me: ok that idea was immediately shut down…

  30. That was cool! Can u do a US coin next like a 50c peice or dollar coin? Pre 65 is silver. I know it's the same as what you just did but it would be cool to see

  31. I have 2M Nitric Acid solution, however I only obtained silver nitrate with heavy heating of the reaction vessel. Is this becuase I am using a solution of nitric acid and not concentrated?

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