Silver Crystals

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This is written as a static display, but can easily become a hands-on experiment for learners. One stoppered flask contains a piece of metal copper, the other contains a blue solution and a piece of copper covered with silver crystals. The crystals form when copper metal (Cu) is added to a solution of silver nitrate (AgNO3). The copper replaces the silver in the solution forming blue copper nitrate (CuNO3), and solid silver crystals (Ag) form on the surface of the copper. The exchange reaction is quick, learners can actually see the crystals grow. For safety reasons, this activity should be conducted as a demonstration for younger audiences.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 14 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Exhibit


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Two 250-ml flasks
  • Two rubber stoppers for flasks
  • 3.4 g AgNO3 (silver nitrate) (keep 100 g on hand)
  • dH2O (deionized water)
  • Two pieces of clean copper strips, each about 6 in. long by ¼ in. wide


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Oxidation-Reduction Reactions


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation