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Silver recovery


Hello Orchid Members: I have been trying to find an experienced
person (with knowledge of techniques, equipment, and supplies) who
can help me set up a small scale refinery for recovering silver from
scrap litho, x-ray, and color and b&w films. Please let me know if
anyone of you happen to know a person with such expertise. Thanks a
million. Yuvak Tuladhar


Yuvak, I would recommend that your contact Peter Shor at He is very informative and can provide you
with the equipment needed to process the type of product you are
referring to. He would be a very good resource for you.

Phillip Scott
Technical Support & Sales
Rio Grande


You need to find someone who has had experience working in a film
processing operation. There are several things that need to be
decided in your case. First, are these “scrap” films some that have
already been processed, and no longer needed, so you want to recover
the silver?

Or are you talking about short ends, outdated unused film, or etc.

In the first case, your best bet would be to consult one of the
firms that does this as a business. The film would first need to be
bleached, and then fixed, and the silver recovered from the fixer.
However, if you expect to recover silver from color films, you are
going to be greatly disappointed! Color films, once processed, do not
have silver in them. And since most of the large-scale use of film
nowadays is color film, such places are getting hard to find.

If it is film that has not been used or processed, then all you need
is to run it through the fixer and then recover the silver from the

Recovering the silver from the fixer can be done electrolytically
(generally used for large-scale silver recovery); or by something
such as precipitating it with zinc dust (usually done in batch
operations) and sending the sludge out to be refined.

Depending on how “small scale” you are thinking of, you might be
able to get by with just running the fixer through one of the silver
recovery cartridges that are available today. I think Kodak still
makes them, and probably places like Handy and Harman and other
places that do the necessary refining afterwards. I think there are
some small-scale electrolytic units made to be used by "still"
photographers and suchlike, also.