shelf life of unused silver nitrate?

Discussion in 'Silver Gelatin Based Emulsion Making & Coating' started by rmazzullo, Nov 15, 2008.

  1. rmazzullo

    rmazzullo Member

    Mar 24, 2007
    Medium Format
    Hello PE,

    Do you know what the best way to store silver nitrate is, and how long it can reasonably be stored under those conditions?


    Bob M.
  2. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

    Jun 17, 2004
    Portland, OR
    4x5 Format
    Like most chemicals, store them in tightly sealed containers, at room temperature, and for items that are photoreactive like silver nitrate, use a dark glass bottle or store them in the dark.

    That said, I had a bottle of silver nitrate that I bought in the late 70s, and it had a hard life (I did not store it in the dark but it was in amber glass). I tried to make an emulsion out of it this last summer, and the silver nitrate did not fully dissolve. It had what I believe were reduced flecks of silver in it which of course, did not dissolve. Adding ammonium hydroxide did not help either, the metallic silver flecks still remained.

    Now there are probably bottles of silver nitrate older than that which are still good, but you need to know you are taking a chance with older chemicals, and the bast approach is to test a portion and see what it looks like dissolved.
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Apr 19, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    Multi Format

    I use it so fast that I have never had to consider the problem. I would say 2 - 5 years in a dark place with a sealed cap is about optimum. Consider this. Silver Nitrate is a "Nitrate" and as such is to be considered a strong oxidant up there with Sodium Nitrate used in gunpowder. It is not as potent surely, but it is a nitrate and can react with any other reductant that might be present. That is one other concern besides light when handling or storing Silver Nitrate.

  4. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

    Oct 18, 2002
    Climax, Michigan
    Large Format
    Many years ago I purchased a pound bottle of silver nitrate that was probably 70 years old in an antique shop. The amber bottle had a glass stopper that had become stuck in the bottle. I had to break the bottle to get to the chemical, but it was still good after all those years and worked fine. I've also acquired some silver nitrate that has turned color over the years and I keep that only for emergencies that might arise doing wetplate. Bad silver nitrate is no longer the white crystal but rather has darkened in my experience.