How to Make a Glass Mirror

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How to make a glass mirror
How to make a glass mirror (Image: mirror image by Lars Christensen from Fotolia.com)

When you are looking at a modern glass mirror--also known as a plane mirror or a back-silvered mirror--the reflection you see is actually behind the glass. The reflective surface, usually made of aluminum, is protected by a thin layer of glass that also causes slight distortions of the image. While it's not as easy to make a glass mirror as it is to break one, just about anybody can make their own glass mirror at home with some supplies purchased from a chemistry shop.

Things You'll Need

  • 97 grains silver nitrate
  • 2 pints distilled water
  • 24 grains Rochelle salts
  • Ammonia, 26%
  • Medical dropper
  • Glass stir stick
  • Backing paint
  • 2 storage glasses
  • 1 pot
  • Stove
  • Camel hair brush
  • Funnel
  • Blotting paper

Using a glass stick, stir 40 grains of silver nitrate into 4 ounces of distilled water until the silver nitrate is dissolved. Use a medicine dropper to add 30 drops of 26% ammonia water, one drop at a time, until the solution becomes clear. If it takes more than 30 drops, stir the solution slowly with the glass stick and add up to seven more drops of ammonia water. Stop immediately after the seven additional drops or the solution becomes clear. Add 32 more grains of silver nitrate and dissolve them by stirring.

Let the solution stand for one hour, then filter it through blotting paper in a cone-shaped funnel. The liquid in the bottle should be clear. Seal and label the bottle and store it in a cool dark place.

Boil one pint of distilled water and 24 grains of Rochelle salts together for one minute. Add 25 grams of silver nitrate and boil for five more minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour the solution into a clean glass once it cools down and let it settle for one hour. Filter the solution and store it the same way as done with the first solution in Step 2.

Thoroughly clean the surface of the glass to be silvered with warm distilled water and place it horizontally on a level surface with banks around the edges to prevent liquid from pouring off the sides.

Mix the two solutions together using the glass stick. Pour the mixture onto the center of the glass so it flows outwards until the glass is entirely covered. Let sit for 30 minutes, then pour the liquid off and stand the glass upright to drain and dry.

Apply a backing paint as soon as the silver covering is dry. Gently brush it on using a camel hair brush. If you brush too strongly, you may remove some of the silver coating.

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