Make Glass Mirrors With Silver Nitrate, Sugar, Ammonia and Sodium Hydroxide





Introduction: Make Glass Mirrors With Silver Nitrate, Sugar, Ammonia and Sodium Hydroxide

About: NurdRage is a dedicate group of science nerds trying to further amateur science with direct how-to instructions in video format. We saw what was already online and we thought "we could do better".....

How to make a mirror silvering solution from silver nitrate, ammonia and sugar.

Glass surfaces can be given coatings of silver that make them into mirrors.

WARNING: Perform the whole experiment in less than two hours. This is because the solution generates highly poisonous silver nitride on standing. Also, the solution will give off ammonia when heated so you'll need to do this outside, in a fume hood or in a well-ventilated area. And wash away all chemicals with lots of water.

Get one gram of silver nitrate and one gram of sodium hydroxide. Then add enough water to both to completely dissolve them. Mix them together and youll get a black precipitate of silver oxide. Then add enough ammonia to completely dissolve the silver oxide. Add four grams of sugar and mix well.

The solution will deposit silver coatings when its heated. If you heat it in a glass container it will deposit silver on the inside of the container. To deposit it onto a glass pane you can put the glass into a tray with solution and heat the tray from below. But do not let the solution boil. Boiling tears the silver off the surface.

Thin layers of silver can be wiped off with a cloth if the silver goes where you don't want it. Thicker layers can be removed by applying hydrochloric acid.

This process produces a back reflective mirror, which is what most household mirrors are.

If you need to silver larger pieces of glass, or need thicker layers, just scale up the solution.



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    After reading this and seeing the video i have a few questions.
    I want to use this for art purposes, can i use a latex material on the glass in places i dont want the mirror to be coated or silvered? And what the ratio formula for the amount or mixer? I see on here it looks like a 1gram:1 gram ratio with the silver nitrate and sodium hydroxide on here. So if i was doing a pane of glass the was 12"x12" , would my measurements be 12g:12gm or in liquid form 12ml:12ml?


    Please tell me that this can be done on plastic. Any plastics: PVC, polyester, mylar, polycarbonate, etc.. I need it for a solar cooker. I am using glass mirrors, but they are too heavy.

    19 replies

    . A mirror silvered on the front should work better for a solar collector (if that is an option available to you).
    . aluminized mylar might work, but probably won't be very rugged.

    Front silvered mirrors are perfect for an optical and protected application. A solar cooker is permanently exposed to the elements: rain, sun, dust, dirt, and surface abuse. Aluminized mylar is too thin, I need some self-standing and stiff, as 1 or 2 mm thickness.

    I've thought about the problem. How about chrome plating? You get your plastic and apply a very thin coating of conductive ink, rub off the excess and shape your plastic, then dip the whole thing in a chrome plating bath and plate on a layer of shiny chrome, or nickel (since nickel is less toxic to work with). It has been done with plastic, works on small scales, and doesn't require exotic equipment or apparatuses, just chemicals and a power supply. And if done right the surface produced will already be a high-quality front-surfaced mrror without the need for additional polishing. It;s not used for large scale production of mirrors because aluminum vapor deposition is still cheaper. But if you're going to small scale then this might work for you.

    My final design of mirrors arrangement for solar cooker contains 85 pieces, totaling 1 square meter. I could try that of the chrome/nickel plated. But, does not require a further thorough polishing? I was like two hours trying to polish an aluminum sheet and all I got was a negligible improvement. I need a mirror finish.

    There is a problem with Aluminum, As soon as you remove oxide from its surface, pure Aluminum react immediately with air, produce heat and form oxide quicker then you clean it. If you make a big chamber full of Nitrogen, you work inside with scuba mask and snorkel is going out of chamber. Then you will be able to polish Aluminum and protect the shining surface with some quartz coating.

    There are a couple of processes available that will put a chrome-like layer onto plastics. Chromed lamp housings and the like on motorcycles, for example, are typically not chrome plated at all but are "chrome" painted ABS plastic. One (but by no means the only) process is called spectra-chrome.

    These processes are expensive to buy and set up, but not at all expensive to get done for you. From memory, spectra-chrome only costs a few dollars per square foot.  Google "spray chrome"

    Probably a bit late for you now, given the date of your post, but getting a mirror finish on Aluminium is very possible.  I will be putting an instructable together very soon on polishing metals.

    Never too late, thanks, very much. My solar cooker is hung at the rear balcony, waiting my free time for resume the mod.

    yeah, no further polishing needing. You need a very special blend of chemicals in order to do this but what happens the metal fills the trenches of the surface first while it plates so it essentially smoothes itself out the more metal you put on it. Even if the original piece is scratched up to begin with the final piece will have a more even coat of metal than before. It can only fix small micron-level scratches but for the most part, you can get mirror shine without polishing. chemical blend must be perfect though but this is what they do in the auto industry.

    Well, this seems interesting. Thanks very much.

    What is this about conductive ink? Can I get that at a reasonable price? I'd be psyche to plate a frisbee with copper.

    Yes, conductive inks are quite affordable... If you consider about $20-$40 per oz as affordable. Conductive sprays also exist for similar cost. There are also ways of making homemade conductive ink as well. If demand is high i might make an instructable on that.

    If it is possible to make it at low cost, with no much risk neither large devices, it will be very interesting for many of us.

    I agree with nacho here, front silvered mirrored with aluminum are probably better and cheaper. Even if it gives you lower quality you could probably build more units for the same cost to make up for the lower efficiency. The process in the video requires rather expensive silver nitrate. Probably not worth it for solar applications.

    "IF IT IS EXPENSIVE, IT IS NOT FOR ME" Thanks, I will try to find out the prices in Buenos Aires.

    I'll look into the problem. No guarantees though. I've got a side project going on depositing aluminum by vapor deposition. If i can make it easy enough for the average joe i'll post an instructable.

    I think that possibility years ago, but I don't encourage myself to do the test. A little for lack of time, a bit for lack of money to risk. I guess it requires more than a cheap vacuum pump.

    I guess that's my next challenge, a DIY high quality vacuum pump. :)

    Bravo! Good for you!