Free Science Tutorial on the Chemistry of Silver

Silver is one of the precious metals known for its use in jewellery and photography. Silver has been known to be in use for thousands of years. This is the known best-conducting metal. The chemistry of this metal is discussed in this article.


Silver is a transition metal. The periodic table shows these transition elements between Groups 2 and 13. It is a precious metal. This element is not very abundant in the Earth's crust. Precious metals are not very chemically active. But they are attractive. Gold, platinum, palladium, rhodium, and indium are some other precious metals known. These metals are used in making jewellery, coins, and art.

This metal occurs in nature in the elemental stage. . This metal has been used by humans for thousands of years. The abundance of silver on this earth is estimated to be about 0.1 parts per million. Its abundance in seawater is about 0.01 parts per million. The most common silver ores are argentite (Ag 2 S); cerargyrite (AgCl); proustite (3Ag 2 S /As 2 S 3 ); and pyrargyrite (Ag 2 S / Sb 2 S 3 ). Mexico, Peru, the United States, Canada, Poland, Chile, and Australia are some of the world's largest silver producers. As it is in elemental nature extracting it from its ores is not very tedious.

The symbol of this metal is Ag. This symbol comes from its Latin name, Argentum. The name originated from the Greek word Argos, meaning "shiny" or "white."This element belongs to Group 11 (IB) of the Periodic table.

Alloys made of silver with gold are very well known. An alloy is a mixture of two or more metals. The alloys so made will not have the properties of any of the constituents and will have different properties.
This metal was discovered very early on in human history. Silver objects were found way back in 3400 B.C. in Egypt. There are records in India belonging to 900 BC in which the existence of silver is mentioned.

Extraction from ore:

Generally, the Cyanide process will be used for silver extraction. The process is similar to that of gold. The ore is crushed into fine particles. Then the same is concentrated using the Froth Floatation method. Then this concentrated ore is reacted with sodium Cyanide. A soluble silver complex will form. The impurities are separated by filtration and then silver is precipitated out by adding zinc dust. The so precipitated silver is purified using electrolysis.

Physical properties:

Some important physical properties of silver are
  1. Silver is a soft, white metal and will have a shiny surface.

  2. It is the most ductile and malleable. That means this metal can be drawn into thin wires and can be hammered into thin sheets.

  3. The best-known conductor of heat and also electricity

  4. It also reflects light very well.

  5. Silver's melting point is 961.5°C

  6. Its boiling point is about 2,000 to 2,200°C

  7. Its density is 10.49 grams per cubic centimetre.

Chemical properties:

The important chemical properties of silver are as follows.

  1. The atomic number of this element is 47. The atomic number is the number of electrons or protons in an atom.

  2. The atomic weight is 107.87. Atomic weight is the number of protons and neutrons in an atom.

  3. Silver is a very inactive metal.

  4. There is no reaction with oxygen under normal circumstances.

  5. Reacts very slowly with sulfur compounds in the air.

  6. Silver will not react with water, acids, and many other compounds.


Two isotopes of silver are known. They are. silver-107 and silver-109. Isotopes differ from each other according to their mass number. The number of electrons and protons in the isotopes of an element will be the same. But the number of neutrons will vary. There are 16 known radioactive isotopes are known. But no radioactive isotope of silver has any commercial use.


Some of the uses and applications of this metal are as follows.
  1. Initially, this metal is used mainly for Jewellery and as money.

  2. The use of this metal in photography has become very prominent. Silver halides, namely silver chloride, silver halide, and silver bromide are used in photography.

  3. This metal is having some medicinal uses also. It is used as an antibiotic coating on wounds. Wound dressing coatings will contain nanomaterials of silver. The same is used for the treatment of external infections. Silver is also used in some other medical applications also.

  4. Silver is widely used in electronics for making conductors and electrodes as silver is the best-known conductor of heat and electricity.

  5. This metal is used to make vacuum tubes and semiconductor devices.

  6. Silver is used in brazing alloys. These alloys are used for brazing metallic objects.

  7. Silver is very widely used in the manufacture of some types of chemical equipment. Silver crucibles are well known for their use in chemical laboratories.


Silver is a very precious and less abundant material with many important applications. This metal is used since ancient times for money and for making jewellery. Later on the same is used for many other applications.


Author: S.Pattavarayan13 Jan 2023 Member Level: Gold   Points : 6

Silver is a member of the transition metals group on the periodic table and has the atomic weight of 107.87 g/mol. It is a relatively rare element, with an abundance in the earth's crust of about 0.08 parts per million.

Silver can exist in various oxidation states, with the most common being +1 and +2. The +1 state is found in compounds such as AgCl (silver chloride) and AgBr (silver bromide), while the +2 state is found in compounds such as Ag2S (silver sulfide) and Ag2O (silver oxide). Silver forms compounds with many non-metals, but it does not form compounds with the noble gases.

Silver is a very reactive metal and can react with several elements to form compounds. Silver reacts with chlorine to form silver chloride, AgCl, which is white and insoluble in water, but soluble in aqueous solutions of NH3 (ammonia). Silver nitrate, AgNO3, is a common reagent in chemical analysis and can be used to test for the presence of chloride ions.

Silver also forms several complex ions, such as Ag(NH3)2+, which is formed when silver ions are treated with ammonia. These complex ions are often used in analytical chemistry to detect the presence of other ions, such as halides and cyanide.

The demand for silver is expected to grow, driven by increasing industrial use and the growing popularity of silver as an investment.

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