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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Precious Metal Refining & Recovery, Episode 11: Silver From Bang Snaps

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Hi everyone, welcome back to Cody's Lab

So, I wanted to do a video on fireworks but unfortunately things are incredibly flammable right now

So I thought I'd start with something that is a little less likely to start a forest fire

So these little things, known as "bang snaps", "snappers" or "poppers", contain a little bit of high explosive

Now, the explosive is supposedly silver fulminate, if so, these stains should actually be primarily silver

So, let's put a little bit of nitric acid on here, and see if that's true


It looks like we came lighter in color, that means the silver was dissolved

That confirms that it is silver

Now, they're only supposed to contain about 80 micrograms of silver fulminate each

So I'm gonna need quite a few of them to be able to recover a significant amount of silver

I went to the store and bought 100 boxes of these poppers, and after quite a bit of separating,

I now have over 5000 of them sitting in these bowls

Something I always wanted to try to do is punch a whole bunch of these poppers, so

How about I shove my fist in about 5000 of 'em?

This might be rather stupid, but, let's see what happens

*disappointing little noise*

Not very much, it's not like they chain together or anything

*slowed-down little disappointing noise*

Hahaha, and that contains all the silver, very nice

Look at this on my knuckles, you can actually see where the silver's on my hand, and it's shiny and metallic

That's cool!

*little bangs*

Backyard Scientist determined that these little things are incapable of igniting even flammable liquids such as gasoline

Let's see what happens when I hit 'em with my high-power laser


Now, they really don't even burn that well, do they? I guess that's good to know

But I might have to actually put 'em in my furnace in order to actually get them to thoroughly combust

*little bangs*

Here's the gravel that was in the poppers, along with some ashes because I burned up all the paper

So let's add in a little bit of distilled water

And a little bit of nitric acid, to dissolve the silver

Now look, the acids had a little bit of time to work, it's time to pour it off, and rinse the gravel

So here's the cleaned gravel, and hopefully, all my silver is over here

I'm actually gonna precipitate the silver from solution, along with the ashes

'Cause I think it'll make things a little bit easier on me

I'll just furnace all the ashes together

But look at that: white silver chloride's forming

Here's the sludge that settled out of the solution, and I'm gonna dry it out

Now this is dry, I'm gonna add in a spoon full of assay flux, this contains litharge

Which will collect the silver together into a bead

And now, I'm gonna add it to this graphite crucible

Now, let's pop this in the furnace, and melt it all down

Ok, now that it's all melty, let's pull it out of the furnace

Pour it out on this metal plate... Here it is, that should be my silver and lead

Alloyed together, now what I gotta do is separate them

To do that, I'm going to put the metal into this little porous dish

Which will absorb lead oxide, but it won't absorb lead metal, or silver

And I just put this in the furnace to oxidize the lead

Ok, let's see what we got here

Oh dear... Ok...

Little problem, I'll fix that

Ok, as you can se the cupel broke, but I got it out

And, there's a nice large bead of silver, awesome

Ok, so here's the silver bead, after I've cleaned it up a little bit, and there's the precision scale

But before we weight it, let's actually double-check to see how much silver I should've expected

So let's assume that I could've extracted .00005 grams of silver from each of those little poppers

Multiply that by 50, 'cause there's that amount per bag, times 100, that's the number of bags that I bought...

That means I should expect a quarter of a gram of silver, ok...

I can already tell this is probably more then a quarter gram, let's put this on scale

I'm getting 1.14 grams, so that's actually more silver then I should be expecting

Unless I did the math wrong...

Perhaps the Wikipedia number was a bit off

I mean, maybe it could be the brand, or maybe they added a little bit of extra in

But anyway, I got roughly 4 times as silver that I was expecting

Let's see what I can make out of it

Before you ask, no, I don't think it's actually the lead that added to it, giving it the extra weight

Because after cupeling, the lead content should be reduced down to less then a couple percent

So there's definitely more silver than I was expecting

Well at any rate, I'm gonna flatten this out and see if I can make a coin out of it

So it's not my best coin, but I've scratched "AG5000 POPS" in the front and "Cody's Lab" in the back

So obviously it'd be really hard to make money with these things, I mean

I got 50 cents of silver out of 50 dollars of them


But if you happen to be someone sweeping up, say, Times Square, or something, and you had literally tons of them

Might be worth extracting the silver

Anyway, hope you guys enjoyed, I'll see you next time


The Description of Precious Metal Refining & Recovery, Episode 11: Silver From Bang Snaps