Silver nitrate is a silver compound that offers a world of uses in a variety of areas. While silver by itself has been considered precious since antiquity, modern man is continually finding new ways to use its versatile compound, silver nitrate. Silver nitrate can be simply created by dissolving silver in a solution of nitric acid and letting the solution evaporate. This is the raw material for basic silver salt synthesis, and it is the least expensive silver salt.
Silver nitrate is so versatile partly because it is soluble in water, alcohol, and acetones. It is used in the manufacture of an eclectic range of products such as mirrors, hair dye, explosives, and a number of pharmaceuticals. Photography labs use silver nitrate in the developing process.
In histology, silver nitrate is used for silver staining, for demonstrating proteins and nucleic acids. Silver nitrate is also used as a stain in scanning electron microscopy.
Once used as a disinfectant, silver nitrate now has many medical, biological, and laboratory uses. Since 1881, for instance, silver nitrate has been used as an eye drop to prevent blindness or disease in the newborn infants of mothers with certain infectious diseases. It has also done service as a cauterizing agent, and dentists sometimes employ it to heal mouth ulcers. Among its biological uses in histology, silver nitrate demonstrates the presence of proteins and nucleic acids. In the chemistry lab, it tests for the presence of chloride, bromide, and iodide ions. Silver nitrate is also used as a stain in scanning electron microscopy. Silver nitrate is a most versatile compound!