I was looking at how to dissolve silver oxide (in a solvent). I know that monovalent silver oxide will not dissolve in water, but are there any solutions in which monovalent silver oxide will dissolve? I was looking whether they would do so in alkaline solutions, but I could not find anything.


2 Answers 2


Well, $\ce{Ag2O}$ is just a basic oxide. As such, it would dissolve in suitable acids ($\ce{HNO3}$ would do), but I guess that's not quite what you want. Well, some metal oxides ($\ce{ZnO}$, for instance) are amphoteric and thus would dissolve in $\ce{KOH}$ as well, via formation of hydroxo complexes. Sadly, this is not the case with $\ce{Ag2O}$. Then we must resort to some specific complex which would be stable in alkaline media.

Indeed, there is such complex: $\ce{Ag(NH3)2+}$, the active component of Tollens' reagent, which is prepared by interaction of $\ce{Ag2O}$ with aqueous ammonia, like I said. If you are actually going to do it, read the page carefully, including the "Safety" section, or at least don't make that solution by gallons and don't leave it unattended for years. Also, note that it is normally made using freshly prepared $\ce{Ag2O}$; dry reagent off the shelf would likely dissolve as well, only much slower.

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    $\begingroup$ Not every acid would dissolve it, as HCl e.g. would give a precipitate. $\endgroup$
    – EJC
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding safety of Tollen's reagent, see this:-chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/43441/… $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 3:41

If one needs to work with organic solvents, silver(I) oxide can be dissolved in trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) producing silver(I) trifluoroacetate $\ce{AgOCOCF3}$, which is a versatile reactant in organic synthesis (compact overview: [1]); also a precursor or chloride precipitant in the synthesis of metal complexes (see, e.g. [2]).


  1. Wistrand, L.-G.; Seapy, D. G. Silver(I) Trifluoroacetate. In Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis; Wiley; Chichester, UK, 2009. DOI:10.1002/047084289X.rs031.pub2.
  2. Kuehn, C. C.; Taube, H. Ammineruthenium complexes of hydrogen sulfide and related sulfur ligands. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1976, 98 (3), 689–702. DOI: 10.1021/ja00419a010.

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