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Silver Nitrate (AgNO3)

Reviewed by Raghvendra GopalCheckmark
Last updated: May 29, 2019

What Does Silver Nitrate (AgNO3) Mean?

Silver nitrate (AgNO3) is a type of chemical compound that is inorganic and caustic. It is odorless and colorless. Silver nitrate has many different applications, such as medical purposes and photography.

Silver nitrate has a trigonal planar arrangement that is often used as a foundation in forming other silver-containing compounds. It is made up of an ionic bond that occurs between the silver cation (Ag+) and the nitrate oxoanion (NO3-). Silver nitrate readily dissolves in water due to its ionic nature and its ability to dissociate with its constituent ions. In the production of photography, silver nitrate is favorable to silver halides because it is stable when exposed to light.

Silver nitrate is very harmful to the body and can be considered a poison; not just to humans, but to steel and other metals due its corrosive nature. When ingested, silver nitrate can cause potentially fatal gastrointestinal bleeding and gastroenteritis.


Corrosionpedia Explains Silver Nitrate (AgNO3)

Silver nitrate (AgNO3) has uses in a variety of industries. Thanks to its caustic properties, it can work as an antiseptic. In fact, one of the oldest uses of silver nitrate was for cleaning wounds. However, large amounts of silver nitrate are toxic.

Silver nitrate is often used as an intermediate substance to form other types of silver compounds. One type of silver compound, known as silver halide, is commonly made using silver nitrate. During the silver halide creation process, the nitrate (NO3-) is replaced by bromide, chloride or iodide ions. These halides are frequently used in photography.

Some properties of silver nitrate:

Molecular weight: 169.872 g/mol

Density: 4.35 g/cm3 (24°C)

Melting point: 209.7°C (409.5°F)

Boiling point: 440°C (824°F)

  • Toxic and corrosive nature.
  • Nitrate and ethanol produce a highly explosive reaction.
  • Silver nitrate, when displaced by copper, forms copper nitrate. The chemical equation that represents this reaction is 2AgNO3+Cu→Cu(NO3)2+2Ag.
  • Silver nitrate, when heated to 440°C, decomposes to give oxygen, silver and nitrogen dioxide.

Apart from the danger silver nitrate poses to human bodies in the form of severe skin burn, eye damage and internal bleeding if ingested, it is very toxic to aquatic life and has long-lasting environmental effects. In industry settings, it may intensify fires and corrode metals.

The iron in stainless steel reacts with silver nitrate. As the iron dissolves, the silver deposits onto the surface of stainless steel. This is a process called immersion plating. Stainless steel tends to be capable of resisting chemical attacks and corrosion due to the formation of a protective layer of chromium oxide. When that layer is thick enough, it prevents damage from other chemicals, including silver nitrate.

Steel products are susceptible to contamination from corrosive chlorides during sea shipping. The sodium chloride (NaCl) in seawater is often blamed for damages caused by undue exposure. Contamination from chlorides can occur at any stage of transportation or storage following production.

To reduce the risk. preliminary testing for the presence of chlorides can be done at any stage of the transportation process with an acidified silver nitrate solution. If there are chlorides present, the solution will react and become milky in color.


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