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Silver Nitrate: A Versatile Chemical

Apr 5, 2008
Silver nitrate is among the most flexible of all chemicals, and it has found uses in fields as varied as veterinary medicine and photography. It has an impressive history of uses. In all its forms, silver nitrate is still in high demand.

This amazing chemical has many industrial uses. It is employed in producing mirrors, indelible inks and dyes, among other things. It is used in the handsome art of etching silver. In combination with electricity, it is used to purify silver. Most famously, its properties have been used as an important ingredient in photography from its inception.

In laboratories, silver nitrate is used as a reagent. Heated to 140 degrees with equimolar NaOH solution, it is a precursor to making Ag2O. Biologists use it to identify proteins and nucleic acids. In fact, all areas of the sciences have uses for silver nitrate, including medicine.

Throughout the centuries, the important antibacterial properties of silver nitrate have been recognized, even if not fully comprehended. It has been used to cauterize wounds, treat skin and eye diseases-it is used as an eye drop for infants in times where disease might have been passed from mother to baby in the birthing process-and heal burns. While maybe not the most modern drug, silver nitrate does have incredible natural antibacterial properties. In 1965 it was demonstrated that a 0.5% solution of silver nitrate was effective in protecting against such potential killers as Staphylococcus aureus, haemolytic streptococci, Pseudomonas aerugin, and E. coli. That takes some chemicalhorsepower!

While many of the medical uses of silver nitrate have been foregone in favor of wonder drugs, eye drops are still used sometimes, and the chemical is still useful in treating burn wounds. Veterinarians use silver nitrate, too. Interestingly, it is employed to treat cows which are sore from fissures in the tender skin of their teats.

Silver nitrate is a fascinating chemical to learn about. In fact, it is impossible to list every use humans have found-and are continuing to find-for this amazing chemical.
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When looking to purchase silver nitrate and other fine chemicals, be sure you buy from respected sites.
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