SILVER





Silver 3290
Photo by: Sergii Denysov

Silver

Overview

Chemists classify silver as a transition metal. The transition metals are elements between Groups 2 and 13 in the periodic table. The periodic table is a chart that shows how chemical elements are related to one another. More than 40 elements, all metals, fall within the transition metal range.

Silver is also classified as a precious metal. Precious metals are not very abundant in the Earth's crust. They are attractive and not very chemically active. These properties make the metal desirable in jewelry, coins, and art. About a half dozen metals near silver in the periodic table are also precious metals. These include gold, platinum, palladium, rhodium, and indium.

Silver has been used by humans for thousands of years. It often occurs as a free element in nature. It can also be extracted from its ores fairly easy. These properties made it easy for early humans to learn about silver.

SYMBOL
Ag

ATOMIC NUMBER
47

ATOMIC MASS
107.868

FAMILY
Group 11 (IB)
Transition metal

PRONUNCIATION
SIL-ver

Today, the most important use of silver is in photography. Three silver compounds used in photography are silver chloride (AgCl), silver bromide (AgBr), and silver iodide (AgI). Silver is also used to make electrical equipment, mirrors, medical and dental equipment, and jewelry. It is often used to make alloys with gold for some of these applications. An alloy is made by melting and mixing two or more metals. The mixture has properties different from those of the individual metals.

Discovery and naming

Silver was probably first discovered after gold and copper. Gold and copper often occur as free elements in nature. They have very distinctive colors, which made it easy for early humans to find these metals.

Silver also occurs as a free metal, but much less often than gold or copper. At some point, humans learned to extract silver from its ores. But that discovery must have occurred very early on in human history. Archaeologists (scientists who study ancient civilizations) have found silver objects dating to about 3400 B.C. in Egypt. Drawings on some of the oldest pyramids show men working with metal, probably extracting silver from its ores.

Other early cultures also used silver. Written records from India describe the metal as far back as about 900 B.C. Silver was in common use in the Americas when Europeans first arrived.

The Bible contains many references to silver. The metal was used as a way of paying for objects. It also decorated temples, palaces, and other important buildings. The Bible also contains sections that describe the manufacture of silver.

The word silver goes back to at least the 12th century, A.D. It seems to have come from an old English word used to describe the metal, seolfor. The symbol for silver (Ag), however, comes from its Latin name, argentum. The name may have originated from the Greek word argos, meaning "shiny" or "white."

Physical properties

Silver is a soft, white metal with a shiny surface. It is the most ductile and most malleable metal. Ductile means capable of being drawn into thin wires. Malleable means capable of being hammered into thin sheets. Silver has two other unique properties. It conducts heat and electricity better than any other element. It also reflects light very well.

Hot, glowing silver.
Hot, glowing silver.

Silver's melting point is 961.5°C (1,762°F) and its boiling point is about 2,000 to 2,200°C (3,600 to 4,000°F). Its density is 10.49 grams per cubic centimeter.

Drawings on some of the oldest pyramids show men working with metal, probably extracting silver from its ores.

Chemical properties

Silver is a very inactive metal. It does not react with oxygen in the air under normal circumstances. It does react slowly with sulfur compounds in the air, however. The product of this reaction is silver sulfide (Ag 2 S), a black compound. The tarnish that develops over time on silverware and other silver-plated objects is silver sulfide.

Silver does not react readily with water, acids, or many other compounds. It does not burn except as silver powder.

Occurrence in nature

Silver is a fairly rare element in the Earth's crust. Its abundance is estimated to be about 0.1 parts per million. It is also found in seawater. Its abundance there is thought to be about 0.01 parts per million.

Silver usually occurs in association with other metal ores, especially those of lead . The most common silver ores are argentite (Ag 2 S); cerargyrite, or "horn silver" (AgCl); proustite (3Ag 2 S ○ As 2 S 3 ); and pyrargyrite (Ag 2 S ○ Sb 2 S 3 ).

The largest producers of silver in the world are Mexico, Peru, the United States, Canada, Poland, Chile, and Australia. In the United States, silver is produced at about 76 mines in 16 states. The largest state producers are Nevada, Idaho, and Arizona. These three states account for about two-thirds of all the silver mined in the United States.

Isotopes

Two naturally occurring isotopes of silver exist: silver-107 and silver-109. Isotopes are two or more forms of an element. Isotopes differ from each other according to their mass number. The number written to the right of the element's name is the mass number. The mass number represents the number of protons plus neutrons in the nucleus of an atom of the element. The number of protons determines the element, but the number of neutrons in the atom of any one element can vary. Each variation is an isotope.

About 16 radioactive isotopes of silver are known also. A radioactive isotope is one that breaks apart and gives off some form of radiation. Radioactive isotopes are produced when very small particles are fired at atoms. These particles stick in the atoms and make them radioactive.

None of the radioactive isotopes of silver has any commercial use.

The tarnish that develops over time on silverware and other silver-plated objects is silver sulfide.

Extraction

Ores rich in silver disappeared long ago due to mining. Today, silver usually comes from ores that contain very small amounts of the metal. These amounts can range from about a few thousandths

A small percent of silver produced in the United States is used for coins. The old "Peace" silver dollar, shown here, was minted from 1921 to 1935.
A small percent of silver produced in the United States is used for coins. The old "Peace" silver dollar, shown here, was minted from 1921 to 1935.
of an ounce per ton of ore to 100 ounces per ton. The metal is most commonly produced as a by-product of mining for other metals. After the primary metal has been removed, the waste often contains small amounts of silver. These wastes are treated with chemicals that react with the silver. The silver can then be extracted by electrolysis. Electrolysis is a process by which a compound is broken down by passing an electric current through it.

Uses and compounds

About 10 percent of silver produced in the United States is used in coins, jewelry, and artwork. One way silver is used is in alloys with gold. Gold is highly desired for coins and jewelry. But it is much too soft to use in its pure form. Adding silver to gold, however, makes an alloy that is much stronger and longer lasting. Most "gold" objects today are actually alloys, often alloys of silver and gold.

Other objects use much more of the silver metal, however. About half of the silver produced in the United States goes into photographic film. Pure silver is first converted to a compound: silver chloride, silver bromide, or silver iodide. The compound is then used to make photographic film (see accompanying sidebar).

The second most important use of silver is in electrical and electronic equipment. About 20 percent of all silver produced is used for this purpose. Silver is actually the most desirable of all metals for electrical equipment. Electricity flows through silver more easily than it does through any other metal. In most cases, however, metals such as copper or aluminum are used because they are less expensive.

Silver's important role in film

T aking a photograph depends on a simple chemical idea: Light can cause electrons to move around. Here is what that means:

Silver metal will combine with chlorine, bromine, or iodine to form compounds. As an example:
In this reaction, each silver atom loses one electron to a chlorine atom. The silver atom becomes "one electron short" of what it usually has. The one-electron-short silver atom is called a silver ion.

Photographic film is coated with a thin layer of silver chloride, silver bromide, or silver iodide. That means the film is covered with many silver ions. Silver ions are colorless, so photographic film has no color to it.

What happens when photographic film is exposed to light? Light gives energy to electrons in the photographic film. Some of these electrons find their way back to silver ions, transforming them back to atoms:

But silver atoms are not colorless. They are black. So, a photographic film exposed to light turns black at every point where light strikes a silver ion.

In taking a picture, of course, not all of the film gets equal amounts of light. A picture of a person, for example, will have areas that get much more light than others. So some places on the film become very dark, and other places become less dark.

Additional steps are necessary to "develop" photographic film or to produce a picture from it. But the first step in taking a photograph is changing silver ions back to silver atoms with light.

But sometimes, an electrical device is so important that cost is not a consideration. For example, electrical devices on spacecraft, satellites, and aircraft must work reliably and efficiently. The cost of using silver is not as important as it would be in a home appliance. Thus, silver is used for electrical wiring and connections in these devices.

In some cases, silver plating solves a practical problem where the more expensive silver would work best. Silver plating is the process by which a very thin layer of silver metal is laid down on top of another metal. Silver is so malleable that it can be hammered into sheets thinner than a sheet of paper. Silver this thin can be applied to another metal. Then the other metal takes on some of the properties of the silver coating. For example, it may work very well as a reflector because silver is such a good reflector. It does not matter if the second metal is a good reflector or not. The silver coating serves as the reflecting surface in the combination.

About a fifth of all silver produced is used in a variety of other products. For example, it is often used in dental amalgams. An amalgam is an alloy in which mercury is one of the metals used. Silver amalgams work well for filling decayed teeth. They are non-toxic and do not break down or react with other materials very readily. Silver is also used in specialized batteries, including silver- zinc and silver- cadmium batteries.

Electricity flows through silver more easily than it does through any other metal.

Health effects

Silver is a mildly toxic element. When the metal or its compounds get on the skin, they can cause a bluish appearance known as argyria or argyrosis. Breathing in silver dust can have serious long-term health effects also. The highest recommended exposure for silver dust is 0.1 milligrams per cubic meter of air.



User Contributions:

JOHN
Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 25, 2008 @ 12:12 pm
I HAVE ABOUT 100IBS OF SILVER PLATED THINGS. CAN THE SILVER BE EXTRACTED AND HOW CAN A PERSON DO YHIS.
THANK YOU,
JOHN
Albus Dumbledore
Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 25, 2008 @ 5:17 pm
The information about Silver's important role in film is helping me with my science project for school.
Kim
Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 29, 2008 @ 1:01 am
can you please let me know what are the problems that come from the silver being overuesed?

Thank you so much!
Anonymous Fish
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 1, 2008 @ 7:07 am
Thanks. I used this article to type of science project. :)
I appreciatted it so much!
Betsy
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 20, 2008 @ 8:08 am
Thank you for the info!!! it helped me get a 100%!!!
Julianagra
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 15, 2008 @ 2:14 pm
thanks- this really helped on my science assignment! not many sites have an actual description of chemical properties!
Karlis96
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 20, 2009 @ 6:18 pm
thanks this really helped on my science project! hey...anyone have any questions about anything i can find out the answer for you if you e-mail me to: robleskarlis@aol.com ok?
Jello
Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 18, 2009 @ 8:20 pm
Hey I was just wondering
I needed more info about this site
cause i used it for my project and i need to put it into my bibliography in MLA form.
katie
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 30, 2009 @ 1:01 am
hi can you tell me if silver was extracted by early humans? if so how was it mined and extracted by these early humans

thanks
susan Hansen
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 21, 2009 @ 9:09 am
Hi, I have a question about a black almost burnt looking, very heavy for its size rock that I found in Pomona, Ca. I sanded down a side and it shows a solid silver, that is very hard. A magnet does not stick to it. What type of metal has a black crust? I have never seen this before. If you need a pic, I can email it to you. Thank you
Susan
nahome
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 17, 2009 @ 11:11 am
for my science project due monday and i need to know how silvers reactivity with acid and base is. Also its chemical properties such as combustibility can u please help me before monday ? thanks
chris
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 13, 2009 @ 9:09 am
please can you help me with my project its due on monday so please help me cause its hard
Katie
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 11, 2010 @ 8:20 pm
this site has helped me a lot with my science poster on silver but there is one thing I cannot seem to find is just a list of chemical properties and I swear I've checked like every website. This project is due on Friday so I"ll need help by then.
Thanks so much!
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 5, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
Thanks this website was great helping my niece do a project thanks!
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 23, 2010 @ 1:13 pm
This website helped me so much. Some of the websites that was assigned to me didnt help me at all. I started clicking around and found this website and I'm so thankful for it. So just thank you.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 23, 2010 @ 7:19 pm
just about the millionth project done with his site... but thanks! :P
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 2, 2010 @ 2:14 pm
Hey, thx, i really needed this info for my science project!
Tenika
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 7, 2010 @ 12:00 am
hi im tenika, i think this is a great site because it helped not just me but my mum to and all those other kids who needed that help so all i want to say is thanks for making this site and keep it up
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 10, 2010 @ 7:07 am
THe coin that you have a picture of is actually called ther Morgan dollar, mi nted from 1878-1904 and once again in 1921.; The peace dollar came afterwards
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 16, 2010 @ 6:06 am
THIS IS SUCH A GOOD WEBSITE :)
i USED IT FOR A SCIENCE PROJECT
Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 23, 2010 @ 9:09 am
This information was very helpful. Thanks:) I have to do a report on silver, and this webpage is very very helpful! thanks so much
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 27, 2010 @ 8:20 pm
I need to know what the element silver is found but I have not found out yet can you help me.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 1, 2010 @ 1:13 pm
please add the origin and where the word silver came from. i can't finish my project without it.
JoJo
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 30, 2010 @ 7:19 pm
This helped me finish my school project haha thanks!
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 2, 2010 @ 9:09 am
whats the cost of silver per gram/ounce/pound/whatever ?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 12, 2011 @ 4:04 am
Can a form of silver be used to help arthritis and other bodily functions?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 20, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
today i was in school and my teacher had told me that we had a project on the periodic table how can i find one to do my project on not on google
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 14, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
I have used silver jewelry crimps to make wind chimes. After a period of time the silver crimps fall apart. They have been hanging outside in very cold weather. Can you explain why they break?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 5, 2011 @ 5:17 pm
How much percentage of silver does Australia have? Please get back to me soon cause my homework has to been handed in THIS TUESDAY!:O
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 16, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
hey this really help me on my project but i could use a littl more information
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 16, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
IT REALLY HELP ME ON MY PROJECT BUT I COULD USE A LITTLE MORE INFORMATION
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 28, 2011 @ 4:16 pm
Hi thnx its very good information for me .can you tel how can i make alloy for silver jewellry good and shyne plz ans me.
Jon G
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 19, 2011 @ 10:22 pm
Thanks for the info it was amazingly helpful, but I do have some questions. Right now I'm writing a story for my editor about the paranormal. Why does silver affect werewolves/vampires the way it does? I know it's not real but there are usually some forms of science behind the madness of the superstition. If you guys could elaborate for me that would be super helpful.

Thanks
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 31, 2011 @ 5:05 am
how to take out sliver from silver chloride, silver bromide,silver iodide what is the process of extracting silver from this solvents plz help me out
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 14, 2011 @ 3:03 am
Have a hot tub with bromine an noticed my silver jewelry is now tarnished. Obviously don't do that again, but how to clean the silver? Thanks!
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 20, 2011 @ 2:02 am
How can we devide silver from wastage chemical of photograpic film,(waste chemical in photo colour lab)
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 31, 2011 @ 9:21 pm
hi... anyone can help me what chemical or acid that can melt gold, silver, platinum,palladium, and rhodium?..tnx
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 8, 2011 @ 7:07 am
what element get dark when exposed to light? I have an assignment forgot about some of those things. please help me out.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 29, 2011 @ 11:11 am
thinks this helps my science peroject because its all in 1 site.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 30, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
thanks soo much ! this definitely helped me with my science project (: (y)
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 2, 2011 @ 6:06 am
Can silver Cure Everything? is shall you say, molded right?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 18, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
i like this website i used it for a teacher for science and i hope i get an on it!
10timesbetter
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 24, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
thanks this was very very helpful on my powerpoint !
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 4, 2011 @ 12:00 am
why silver get black/brown when wear it any scientific reason or austrology reason help ne just i want to know about silver
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 4, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
When was silver found?? please reply soon because i need this for a project
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 10, 2011 @ 10:10 am
People dont know when it was found all they know is that is was found thousands of years ago
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 13, 2011 @ 11:11 am
this really helped me on my science homework. thnks but there is one thing i cant find on here... how silver is processed into its pure form. thats what i need to know.
caleb barkle
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 14, 2011 @ 6:18 pm
this just helped so much with my project thank you for the help whoever did this i just wish i found this website sooner
mark
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 6, 2012 @ 5:17 pm
Gold is considered as the most melleable metal because it can be beaten into the thinnest foil. Silver is the second. Also better thermal conductor is for example diamond. But silver really has the highest electrical conductivity at room temperature and above. And it is the best reflector of visible and IR radiation. Practically every chemical element has some unique properties, but those of silver make it incredibly useful and indispensible in many applications (mirrors, photography, electronics, batteries, medicine, catalysis etc. etc.)
cuttie(:
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 18, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
what are some physical facts about silver .and what does it form please help asap.
doodlebug
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 6, 2012 @ 7:07 am
this info has not helped me at all i need more info on the chemical properties of silver.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 15, 2012 @ 9:09 am
Thx so much I'm using this for my science project.
Savannah
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 18, 2012 @ 6:18 pm
Great Website help me alot i hope i do good on my science report :)
John Eisele
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 20, 2012 @ 3:15 pm
As a former silver halide emulsion chemist (this is the light sensitive material used in the old photography) I can assure you that AgCl, AgBr and
AgI are not colorless. AgCl is white, AgBr is pale yellow, and AgI is more yellow. They are usually used in mixture and are made in a aqueous solution of gelatin. With the advent of digital photography emulsion chemists are going the way of dinosaurs.
bree
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 20, 2012 @ 2:02 am
WHO DEVELOPED SILVER 110, AND IS IT NATURAL OR SYNTHESISED? ALSO WHAT JOBS REQUIR THE USE OF SILVER.
bree
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 20, 2012 @ 2:02 am
WHO DEVELOPED SILVER 110, AND IS IT NATURAL OR SYNTHESISED? ALSO WHAT JOBS REQUIRE THE USE OF SILVER.THANKS MUCHLY
Elle
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 25, 2012 @ 4:04 am
Thanks heaps for this article, I used it to find information on my science project!
Maddy! x
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 17, 2012 @ 3:03 am
What happens when siver and chlorine combine? i really need some help for my science/english project and i need the answer ASAP is there anyway you can help me?
Syming
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 30, 2012 @ 6:18 pm
Good info now all i need are two WOW interesting facts
Mohab
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 18, 2012 @ 8:08 am
my name is mohab from Egypt .. can you help me for extracting silver from x-ray films .. I need the techniques that used .. this is my Bs.c project .. thank you.
Arpan Mukherjee
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 18, 2012 @ 12:12 pm
can any one tell me why the Silver metal on film/ print is black in color where as the color of the metal is white. how one can convert the black color of silver in photographic print/ negative to metallic white silver color?
Sarah
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 6, 2013 @ 6:18 pm
This was a wonderful website. You get a lot from it and it seems legit!!

Thank You so much Producer!!
Mackenzie
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 13, 2013 @ 8:20 pm
Thank you so much!
This artical really helped me with my science project.
Mackinzie
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 16, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
This report was very helpful for a rock report I am doing for school. Silver's history and uses are pretty hard to find on the web. Thank you so much! :)
Lucy
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 27, 2013 @ 5:17 pm
Thank you so much! This helped a lot with my project.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 26, 2013 @ 11:23 pm
This is a great paper, but you're wrong about something. Silver isn't the most ductile and malleable metal, gold is.
Hermione Granger
Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 16, 2013 @ 6:18 pm
This website is a very good one, I recommend it for use on the OWL's :) -Hermione Jean Granger
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 6, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
nice report i needed it for a power point presentation
Dr abhijit kanase
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jun 21, 2013 @ 11:11 am
What is the process of recovery of silver from photlab waste which chemical react with silver .please send me detail process of recovery from waste.
M. Kandhaswamy
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jun 26, 2013 @ 10:10 am
To extract silver from colour lab chemical (bleach fix) with electrolysis method,the chemical should be colour less,how can we get the chemical (bleach fix) in to colour less, is there any way to get the chemical in to white, please advice. thanking you.
Valentina
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 20, 2013 @ 11:11 am
I'm in fifth grade doing a project on silver and this web site helped a lot!!! Thanks :-)
syd
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 18, 2013 @ 3:15 pm
what could silver do to humans, like damage? because i need to know this for a project in a few days.
Matthew
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 7, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
Doing a report on Silver for chemistry, and this website is literally everything I need to write this report. Thank you for such brilliance found all in one page. Cheers!!!
premal joshi
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 5, 2014 @ 12:12 pm
Its good information but guide me for good technido si plating on cooper electrical parts
SKENZY-B
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jun 25, 2014 @ 7:19 pm
i just wanna know how it has helped understand chemistry
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 17, 2014 @ 8:20 pm
How would I turn silver bromide back into pure silver or .999 silver?
Tori Vining
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 31, 2014 @ 4:16 pm
Thanks!! You helped me with my poster for science and I'm in 7th grade, so I appretiate it so much!!
dylan
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 6, 2014 @ 8:08 am
Thanks this helped me on my element project.i picked silver and that helped a lot your the only good website i found.
HarrietPotter
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 12, 2014 @ 7:07 am
I'm doing an element project on silver and this website really helped me!!
Brian
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 16, 2014 @ 8:08 am
Hi,
I have caught an error on Silver, it was regarding the coin shown, I'm a coin collector and the correct name for the coin, is the Morgan Silver Dollar minted at the U.S Mint from 1878-1921 in Philadephia, PA, New Orleans, LA, and Carson City, NV. Peace Dollars were minted from 1921 to 1928, and then for two final years in 1934 and 1935. In all years the Peace Dollar was minted coins were struck at Philadelphia. During different years coins were not produced at the other Mints.
Katie
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 10, 2014 @ 10:22 pm
Thank you so much for helping me with my science project. It was extremely helpful for an 8th grader to have easy access to this information. Thank you again.
Nathan
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 12, 2014 @ 8:08 am
info helped alot and i also helped out some of my friends so thx :)

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA


Silver, Chemical Element forum