Cheap silver recovery system

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by ed b., Sep 29, 2002.

  1. Several times I have suggested to people a cheap silver recovery
    option called the Silver Magnet, sold by Porter's. It allows you to
    remove toxic silver before you pour used fix down the drain. But the
    last time someone looked for it in their catalog, they couldn't find
    it, and I had to admit I couldn't either. However, I just received
    the latest Porter's catalog, #A-70, and the Silver magnet is on page
    90. It sells for $34.95, and replacements for the pickup cell are
    $18.50. This is the simplest, most reasonably priced system I have
    been able to locate, and I highly recommend it.
  2. do they have a web site?....I am curious as to the construction since it seems to me the simplest way to do it would be to get a batterie and stick the electrodes in the water. Or maybe just add a salt solution and precipitate the silver. If removal is the only goal.
  3. Kodak had/has a system that looked like a 5 gallon paint bucket; and was filled with steel wool. The unit was below ones fixer tank; and used gravity to fill the assembly. Th fixer sits in teh assembly; and the silver deposits on the steel wool. The Kodak units were called 1-P and 2-P in the mid 1970's and cost 25 dollars each. The kodak publication that covered thes units was Kodak Publication J-9.
  4. Porter's have it also in their online catalog here. Does anyone (Ed?) have experience with the system - how much used fixer does it take to fill up one cartridge and whether the system is efficient enough so one can safely discard the fixer down the drain?
  5. It is a plastic box with electrodes in it, which plugs into a transformer providing 2 volts DC. You can see the silver deposits beginning to form on the electrode after the first time you use it. It works quite well.
  6. Back in the early 80's when silver prices were going through the roof Spiratone had a little unit on the market. The most economical way to reclaim silver is steel wool. You just put a bunch of steel wool in a bucket and dump in your used fixer. The iron goes into solution and the silver percipitates out as black sludge. The biggest problem we have is that silver is not worth very much anymore, reclaimers don't want to fool around with small quantities, and it cost money to ship the sludge, even after you dry it out. It's just not worth the effort and the cost of steel wool and shipping!
  7. Al is correct about the low or zero return on investment of a system. In the early 1980's the Hunt brothers did the silver spike; and recycling for profit was a big rage. We bought an electical unit; thay now is all corroded up and needs some TLC. Be very carefull; because any electrical leakage from a unit may recycle yourself back to earth.

    One should study the local silver recyclers; and see what they will even accept; before falling in love with a mail order unit may not ever pay off. The electrical unit of ours deposited silver; which was easy to nail away for assay. With the 9/11 clamp down on chemical shipments; sending a canister of steel wool/silver sludge have get classified as a hazard waste surcharge.
  8. The point is not to make money from the silver. The point is to get this toxic heavy metal out of the fixer before pouring it into the public water system. And I hardly think 2 volts DC is going to electrocute anyone.
  9. I used to have an office next to a printer (offset) that had the local EPA on his back for silver recovery every six months. He was able to satisfy them by pouring fixer into a shallow metal tray that would evaporate all the liquid leaving a thick sluge. This accumulated sluge was then disposed of at our local hazardous waste center in a small bucket. I like some of the other ideas better but just thought I would pass this one along for it's simplicity and cost.
  10. The plastic bucket full of iron wool is the cheapest silver removal system you'll find, Ed.<br>You can improve the efficiency by inserting a small carbon electrode connected to the positive of a low-voltage supply, with the negative terminal connected to the wire-wool. A cheap little 500mA battery eliminator, set to around 6v, should be enough.
  11. So Ed,

    the next question is: what do you do with the leftover silver on the magnet. Is it significantly less hazardous to the solid waste stream than it is in dissolved form? Maybe Freestyle sells a home smelting kit that lets you separate the silver out and make counterfeit Roman coins?
  12. . Is it significantly less hazardous to the solid waste stream than it is in dissolved form?
    In a word...yes. Silver in solid form is less likely to propagate than in ionic form. When dissolved and introduced into the water streams it becomes part of the food chain. A routine practice in hazardous waste landfills is to "solidify and encapsulate" those aquous streams that cannot be solidified by other means. This is done to prevent leaching and introduction into the water stream or water tables.
  13. I have an old friend who is a silversmith. I give the silver to him to reclaim. It doesn't come to much, but he is happy to have it.

    Hey, I'm not trying to sell these things. I was just trying to share some information about this issue, which has come up numerous times over the past several years. I appreciate all the useful information that others have posted.
  14. Ed,

    Thanks for the information, I have been looking for something like this for a while.

    To those who did not bother to follow the link provided: You don't have to find a local recycler to take the silver off of your hands. The pads come with a mailer to return to the manufacturer.
  15. Thanks for the info, Ed, and for the followups it generated. Since we have a well and septic tank system this is very useful to me.
  16. Does anyone know enough about the electro/chemistry of these things to offer a prediction as to how silver-free the fixer will be, and if that silver level will be low enough so it won't kill off all the necessary bacteria in a septic system if I dispose of my spent fixer there?
  17. John,
    Even "unreclaimed" fixer has silver levels low enough for OCCASIONAL dumping in a septic system. Any kind of hobby amounts should be all right, unless you do a lot of printing (hundreds of 8x10 prints per week).

    Simply dropping a wad of steel wool in the spent fixer and leaving it for a few hours will remove most of the silver - like 99%. For full removal, dump powdered zinc in the fixer: 99.9% of the silver will solidify in less than a minute.

    So then you've only got the rest of the chemicals (sulfate, sulfite, thiosulfate, ammonia, bromide, iodine etc) to worry about...
  18. So the questions continue: I am setting up my own darkroom and not interested in schlepping my sludge to a bigger darkroom to dispose of it there. I'm looking for decent silver recovery systems online, but it's hard to find reliable information. How much silver can/should/does one actually remove? And let's say you do dump some steel wool into a bucket of fixer - then what? I'm just one person, but printing professionally, and if any of you could offer suggestions about what I can do to minimize my impact reasonably, I would really appreciate it.
  19. hi willa
    an electrolytic system like a silver magnet ( or the xrite type )
    will remove down to 50 parts /million. something that does ionic transfer
    (like a trickle tank ) will remove much more, perhaps down to 5 parts / million or less ..
    the difference between a trickle tank and steel wool is that you still have to dispose of the steel wool
    with a trickle tank you send the lid or the portion of the tank that traded its iron for silver to be refined
    ( and you get the receipt for your records ).
    since you do this professionally, you might consider having it hauled away. it isn't too expensive
    and you have all the documentation for your records.
    if you are interested in a silver magnet or a trickle tank feel free to contact me

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