Chemistry of Silver Nitrate

It is one of the major compounds of silver. It is also named as lunar caustic.


It is prepared by dissolving silver metal with concentrated nitric acid and evaporating the solution up to crystallization point followed by cooling.
$$\ce{3Ag + 4HNO3->[\Delta]3AgNO3 + NO ^ + 2H2O}$$

Physical properties:

  • It is a white crystalline solid.
  • It is soluble in water and alcohol.
  •  It’s melting point is 212oC.

Chemical properties:

1. Action with heat: When heated to red hot, silver nitrite decomposes to metallic silver.
$$\ce{2AgNO3->2Ag + 2NO2 + O2}$$

2. Action with Sodium hydroxide: Silver nitrate when reacted with NaOH forms a brown ppt of Ag2O.

$$\ce{AgNO3 + 2NaOH->$\underset{\text{Brown ppt.}}{\ce{Ag2O}}$ + 2NaNO3 + H2O}$$


3. Action with ammonia: Silver nitrate forms a complex called diammine silver(I) nitrate when reacted with ammonia.
$$\ce{2NH3 + AgNO3->$\underset{\text{Diammine silver nitrate}}{\ce{[Ag(NH3)2]NO3}}$}$$

4. Action with KCN: Silver nitrite upon reacting with potassium cyanide gives precipitate of AgCN. when reacted with excess of potassium cyanide, silver nitrite get dissolved to give potassium argentocyanide.
$$\ce{AgNO3 + KCN->$\underset{\text{Potassium Agrentocyanide}}{\ce{K[Ag(CN)2]}}$}$$


  • It is used in silvering of mirror.
  • It is used for the preparation of permanent ink.
  • It is used as a laboratory reagent.
  • It is used as a dental antiseptic.

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