Silver nitrate: the allrounder

Silver nitrate is important in a wide variety of industries due to its various properties. Silver nitrate is used in the chemical industry as a raw material for the production of other silver compounds, especially silver halides such as silver chloride or silver iodide. Since silver halides react with light, they are often used for the light-sensitive surfaces of photographic films and papers for analog photography or X-ray equipment. Forensic science also uses this light sensitivity to make fingerprints visible or to prepare banknotes. After contact with the treated objects, the skin turns black and this colour then cannot be washed off. This property was previously used to dye hair black and make non-erasable inks. Conversely, since silver nitrate is required for the production of silver compounds, it is also a detection reagent for halides in the laboratory as an aqueous solution and is used for quantitative determination. Silver nitrate is also used to manufacture silver mirrors or in electroplating industry.

Use in medicine

Medicine uses silver nitrate, among other things, for local treatment as an antiseptic and astringent. Silver nitrate is often used as a medical product in the form of silver nitrate sticks as an etchant against e.g. warts, skin growths, nosebleeds. Silver nitrate sticks are available in pharmacies or drug stores. Due to the local destruction of nerve endings, silver nitrate can also relieve pain in addition to its antiseptic, astringent, denaturing and caustic properties. Homeopathy uses silver nitrate under the outdated name “Argentum nitricum” in numerous ways, among other things against stage fright or examination anxiety.

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Silver nitrate

CAS NO.: 7761-88-8
MOLECULAR WEIGHT: 169,87 g/mol


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