I am doing some experiments with alternative film chemistry and I am starting to get concerned about safety. One experiment involves converting a small amount of metallic silver to silver chloride and then soaking the film in an weak ammonia solution (< 10% ammonia hydroxide), to dissolve the silver chloride, additionally there may be small amounts of silver oxide and silver metal left on the film. I read somewhere that in experiments involving ammonia and silver compounds that the dangerous explosive silver nitride could be produced. Should I be worried about it? would I be producing it in dangerous quantities? or at all? There is probably only a few grams of silver on the entire film strip.

What are some sensible precautions I could take here?


2 Answers 2


Wikipedia states specifically that silver nitride is slowly formed from solutions of silver oxide or silver nitrate in aqueous ammonia; it does not mention other silver salts as potential precursors.

In case the nitride does form, you can look for it, and if you suspect anything you can easily dissolve it in dilute ammonia solution. From the WP article:

Silver nitride may appear as black crystals, grains, crusts, or mirrorlike deposits on container walls. Suspected deposits may be dissolved by adding dilute ammonia or concentrated ammonium carbonate solution, removing the explosion hazard.[1][2]

Cited References

1. John L. Ennis and Edward S. Shanley (1991). "On Hazardous Silver Compounds". J. Chem. Educ. 68 (1): A6. doi:10.1021/ed068pA6.

2. Salt Lake Metals Inc., "Silver oxide". Retrieved February 11, 2010.


The ammonium hydroxide would convert the silver chloride to ammonium chloride and a precipitate of silver probably silver oxide also. On a small scale it shouldn't be dangerous , maybe have an ice bath handy just in case and always wear appropriate ppe

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    $\begingroup$ No ! $\ce{AgCl}$ gets dissolved in ammonia solution producing the soluble ion $\ce{[Ag(NH3)2]^+}$ ; silver oxide is not precipitated. Silver nitride is dangerous ; it is only formed when dissolving silver oxide $\ce{Ag2O}$ (not silver chloride) in concentrated ammonia solution (> 1 M). $\endgroup$
    – Maurice
    Jun 14, 2021 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ Maurice ,, in a %10 solution with water? Maybe if left over time, he's dissolving silver chloride not silver oxide. $\endgroup$
    – Technetium
    Jun 14, 2021 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ Read "Silver nitride" in Wikipedia ! $\endgroup$
    – Maurice
    Jun 14, 2021 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ Maurice he's not dissolving silver oxide or silver nitrate, he's dissolving silver chloride in aqueous ammonium hydroxide, it's simple Redox chemistry, you should read the reference your citing it states the reaction requirements. $\endgroup$
    – Technetium
    Jun 14, 2021 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ @maurice I have done so. I want a backup plan, hence my answer. $\endgroup$ Jun 14, 2021 at 20:42

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