How to Manage and Prevent Silver Nitrate Stains in Your Laboratory

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Many a customer has phoned into Westlab and asked about Silver Nitrate stain removal. In this article we may not have your exact answer but would like to give you some ideas on some methods that can work depending on the surface properties. Silver nitrate leaves a black/gray stain which is obstinate to remove on almost all surfaces by normal cleaning and scrubbing.

Below is a collection of ideas to manage and prevent silver nitrate stains in your laboratory.

  1. Silver nitrate is water soluble. Thus, if you get to the stain immediately it could be simply  removed by washing with lots of water irrespective of the item or object that is directly affected.
  2. Use of potassium ferricyanide, potassium permanganate or potassium dichromate has been found to be successful in reducing the intensity of the stain or removing the stain. Potassium permanganate is the least hazardous option in the above.
  3. Immediate application of Sodium Thiosulphate solution directly to the stain has been proven to reduce the intensity or remove a Silver Nitrate stain.
  4. Harsh chemicals are often implemented as a last resort to clean up silver nitrate spills. So unless the spill is so bad, stick with water-based solutions. For stubborn silver nitrate stain, diluted ammonia and hydrogen peroxide can be a great silver nitrate stain cleaner.
  5. Carefully use concentrated nitric acid to clear the stain on benchtop or on the floor. Extreme care should be taken if administering this method. See important note below.
  6. Liquid silver stain remover (Silvosol) is available in some countries and can work very well on sinks, tubs, benchtops and even clothing.

Important Notes:

  1. Great care should be taken while using chemicals for removal of stains. Make sure you do not make skin contact with silver nitrate to avoid allergic reactions or chemical burns.
  2. Ensure qualified laboratory personnel undertake any procedure involving chemicals to ensure the safety of all individuals.
  3. Stay alert and active at all the times in laboratory to avoid any accident.

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