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Forum Home > Hints and Tips for treasure hunting > How to test for pure silver ....poor mans method but works...

Dennis
Member
Posts: 72

Anyone who collects silver tableware, cutlery or jewelry should know how to identify pure silver when they come across the shiny metal at yard sales or in junk shops. In many cases terrific bargains can be had - at an uninformed merchant's expense!

There are two easy ways to determine if a shiny metal is in fact silver both methods require a chemical reaction to occur on the surface of the substance and then a visual inspection for the presence of silver sulfide (a black stain' on the metal).

 

 

FRENCH'S BRAND YELLOW MUSTARD TEST This first method requires that the tester apply a very small amount of French's brand yellow mustard to the surface of the shiny metal. Ideally the mustard drop should then be heated, either in the sun or with a cigarette lighter. Let me explain; this brand of mustard contains a very high amount of sulfur and when heated the volatile sulfur molecule will ALWAYS combine with pure silver to make the dark black stain known as silver sulfide (which is easily cleaned away with vinegar by the way).

 

 

 

THE SULFUR MATCH TEST The second method may attract more attention than desired, especially when attempted inside a store, under a proprietor's watchful gaze. Yet this method is even more effective take a match and press it against the metal surface to be tested and then light it on fire with another match. The sulfur is extremely hot as it combusts and it will certainly combine with pure silver when ignited in this fashion. It will not however mark nickel, steel, or chrome or any other shiny metal the way it marks silver (a black stain). Again this dark metal is silver sulfide it will not wipe away with your finger and must be cleaned off the metal with another agent. Its important to note that both of these tests will not harm the metal and can be easily cleaned away.

A WORD OF CAUTION

Beware of labels that describe types of silver', for example, nickel silver' contains no actual silver. It's just a name for a specific nickel copper alloy. Names like "Mexican Silver", "German Silver," "Indian Silver," "Montana Silver," and even, believe it or not, the word "silver" all by itself do not actually guarantee any silver content. "German Silver" is another name for the alloy of copper, nickel and zinc (it was a derogatory term in the 1800's), and today this blend is called Nickel Silver'. Despite the name, Nickel Silver contains no silver.

 


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Dennis M. O'Connor

January 29, 2011 at 1:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Peter Gill
Site Owner
Posts: 311

Hi Dennis,


Thanks for this article..... This is great stuff to remember :) Pity they have not come up with an electronic way to test different metals.... In a pocket tool :D It sure would be a handy tool to have.

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God Bless

Peter



January 29, 2011 at 3:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dennis
Member
Posts: 72

There are home kits available....not too costly...start at $14.95

http://scales-n-tools.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=10

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Dennis M. O'Connor

January 29, 2011 at 3:37 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Peter Gill
Site Owner
Posts: 311

Thanks Dennis, I will go and check out that site... should be interesting :D

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God Bless

Peter



January 29, 2011 at 4:19 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dennis
Member
Posts: 72

I bought a kit and it just arrived today....6 acids and 2 stones...$15.00

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Dennis M. O'Connor

January 29, 2011 at 4:37 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Peter Gill
Site Owner
Posts: 311

I looked at this site... what do the stones do??? I think it is great that a person can buy something like this....

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God Bless

Peter



January 30, 2011 at 3:55 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dennis
Member
Posts: 72

Peter Gill at January 30, 2011 at 3:55 PM

I looked at this site... what do the stones do??? I think it is great that a person can buy something like this....

Scratching the test stone with the edge of a ring or necklace link is probably the best area to test these items. The scratch doesn't leave large scars on the surface of the item this way. When scratching the jewelry item on the test stone, make sure you push with a little bit of force in order to leave tiny pieces of the gold or silver on the stone. You will notice there is a streak on the test stone when you have scratched it correctly. After scratching the test stone simply drop one drop of test acid on the streak of metal left on the test stone.


 


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Dennis M. O'Connor

January 30, 2011 at 5:07 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Peter Gill
Site Owner
Posts: 311

I see you get electronic testers that can tell you what grade the gold is also? They are getting good at all this... What we need is a digital device that you place your item into and it gives you what metal it is..... Umm I am sure that will be around sooner or later :D

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God Bless

Peter



January 31, 2011 at 6:54 AM Flag Quote & Reply

John
Member
Posts: 134

Thanks again Dennis. I hope you have lept a journal on all your years of hard work. I didnt find my blob, but pretty sure there is more. Now the weather has warmed a bit Im getting out, and replacing some of that dirt I lost. I picked up a couple of rock samples for my collection, and will probably go get some more, havent done anything real amazing, just playing with new coil on the detector.

February 5, 2011 at 3:05 PM Flag Quote & Reply

John
Member
Posts: 134

I have a question about old buried silver. The black crust around it, does it affect the test? Does the black need cleaned off first?

March 12, 2011 at 4:58 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Dennis
Member
Posts: 72

This is oxidation, easier to test if removed and also insures a correct reading...


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Dennis M. O'Connor

March 12, 2011 at 8:28 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Peter Gill
Site Owner
Posts: 311

There are products in our online shop for checking for gold and silver. As far as I know, this is the best way available at this time.... Check out the shop at:

http://petergill.webs.com/treasurestore.htm and look through the products for the silver testers....


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God Bless

Peter



April 22, 2012 at 2:16 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Peter Gill
Site Owner
Posts: 311

This YouTube movie shows a silver tester

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzw3Uju2sO4&feature=g-all-c


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God Bless

Peter



July 7, 2012 at 4:49 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Peter Gill
Site Owner
Posts: 311

This YouTube movie shows a silver tester

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzw3Uju2sO4&feature=g-all-c


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God Bless

Peter



July 7, 2012 at 4:49 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Peter Gill
Site Owner
Posts: 311

This YouTube movie shows a silver tester

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzw3Uju2sO4&feature=g-all-c


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God Bless

Peter



July 7, 2012 at 4:49 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Jenn Nodine
Member
Posts: 1
Hi all, just wanted to throw in my two cents about the pocket silver identifier gadget a lot of people are wishing for. Personally, I hope they never make an affordable version. If they did, every junk store would have one and all the great deals on precious metals would be over. Follow your instincts when buying and usually you can't lose even if you wind up with a plated item because the prices rareness store are better than the brand new junk jewelry coming out of Target and WM these days. You won't win every time but even a solid find here and there puts you ahead on average. :) happy hunting, my friends!
December 21, 2012 at 9:23 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Peter Gill
Site Owner
Posts: 311

Hi Jenn, welcome to the site and thanks for your input.... You make a good point, like anthing else, all goes great until the knowledge gets out, then it is onto the next project.... That is how I have always found it.... Same with detecting, just a few then the thousands,,,,, life seems to go in these cycles :D

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God Bless

Peter



December 22, 2012 at 3:47 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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