posted on Feb, 19 2012 @ 01:45 PM
I wanted to contribute a bit to your thread. As a chemical operator for 20 years, with a little over 5 years of that time spent in a precious metals
refinery. Of coarse the processes used in a commercial refinery are a bit different from your process here, your process is sound and should work well
for what you are doing.
I see some people here are asking if this is legal. The answer is that as far as the US is concerned yes it is. As for the dissolving of coins, if
they are out of circulation, (not being minted any more) then there is no problem. If they are currently in circulation, then there is a law about
defacing money to consider. In the US there should be no problem due to the fact that the silver content in present coins is minuscule at best, and
they would not be worth the time to refine.
Others have asked if the silver would be worthless due to lack of markings. The answer is no it would not. A simple assay would establish the purity
of the metal and therefore a simple calculation involving the weight and purity of the metal would establish the value.
In the refining industry the purity of any precious metal is referred to as 9's of purity. 99.9% pure metal would be referred to as 3-9's of purity.
Where as 99.999% metal would be called 5-9's of purity. This level of purity is established with an assay of the metal either wet or dry. I won't go
into the different ways of assaying metal as the chemistry and methods are a bit beyond most folks. As a side note, 5-9's of purity is the level of
purity required for a precious metals use in electronics.
In the refinery that I worked, the silver refining process was an electric process where by the scrap was melted into anodes and hung in a bath of
nitric acid solution. Electricity was passed through the apparatus causing the anodes to dissolve. the contaminants went into solution and remained
there. The pure silver is deposited on the cathode and then scraped off into a stainless steel basket in the bottom of the solution tank. This silver
is now of 5-9's purity and after rinsing and drying is crystalline in nature. The industry refers to it as silver sponge until it is assayed and
melted into bars.
As for the disposal of the dissolving solution, as the OP states, put it down the drain with copious amounts of water. This will dilute it to the
point that it will be rendered harmless. The quantity of solution (nitric acid and water) is minuscule. If enough water is added then the solution
will be unnoticeable.
Some have asked if the copper could be reclaimed. The answer is yes it could. However the process for reclaiming it would not be cost effective on
such a small scale.So I would recommend forgetting about this idea.Copper needs to be processed on a very large scale in order to be cost effective
due to the low value of copper.
Some one asked about battery acid. The answer is no. Battery acid is dilute sulfuric acid and would not be suitable for this process.
In my effort to help out the OP I may have missed some questions that were posted here. Please feel free to u2u me if I missed your question. I would
be happy to answer any questions that I can.
To the OP..... wonderful thread. this is a very good process and also easy to do. While great care should be taken with the nitric acid, it is a good
way to reclaim silver. 3-9's of purity is actually pretty good for such a simple process. As a warning to any who attempt this ... Always, and I
can't be more serious about this, add acid to water and very slowly, otherwise you can get a splattering of the solution on yourself. You will notice
an elevation of temperature in the solution as you add the nitric to the water. This is normal. Be careful with the acid as it can hurt you. I would
recommend safety glasses and,or a face shield as well as rubber gloves. Wouldn't hurt to have a rubber apron available either. These precautions are
the norm in the industry. At the present time I am working maintenance in a metal plating plant and these precautions are standard.
So if you want to try this then have at it but be aware of the dangers involved in handling acid. In closing remember what the OP said about doing
this outside in a well ventilated area. Any reaction involving acid can produce gasses that can be harmful. The most dangerous would probably be
hydrogen. Very flammable so no smoking around this process.