Silver Balls for the Chemis-tree!

posted:Thursday, December 22,  2016

Senior School Science students got into the holiday spirit yesterday in Mr. Ward's chemistry classroom. Beginning with clear glass ornaments, they removed the silver holder and poured a small amount of acetone into the bauble to remove any impurities, rinsing them out thoroughly with water. Students then measured out dextrose solution, stoppered the opening, and rolled the bauble around to cover the inside. Excess was poured away and the ornament was stoppered again to ensure minimal evaporation. Silver nitrate solution and concentrated ammonia were mixed meticulously along with potassium hydroxide, forming a dark precipitate. The solution was immediately poured into the ornament with the dextrose coating, which was stoppered and rolled continously, covering its inner surface. Students were excited to see the mixture turn grey with a rainbow sheen, then black, and then silver!

After silvering had been completed, the ornament was rinsed thoroughly, capped with silver, and voila! Each student was left with a silver chemis-tree bauble, and a hands-on experience demonstrating a practical application of an oxidation-reduction chemical reaction. This process "reflects" (pun perhaps intended) the way silver mirrors used to be produced.