The Resurgence of Film Photography Is Good for Silver Investments

The Resurgence of Film Photography Is Good for Silver Investments

Only a decade ago, film photography seemed to be dying as more and more photographers turned in their old film cameras and went digital. Then about five years ago, people started to set aside their digital cameras as they took more and more of their snapshots on phones.

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Will the Return to Film Photography Make Silver Prices Soar?

Will the Return to Film Photography Make Silver Prices Soar?

Even though film and other analog photo supplies are selling at a tiny fraction of what they were in the pre-digital age, those increases are significant. Since film photography is highly reliant on silver, does that increase mean that silver will be in greater demand, and trading prices will rise? It could be. Whenever demand increases for a commodity that is in a fixed supply, prices for that commodity rise. 

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What Processes Are Used to Precipitate Precious Metals from Liquid Chemical Solutions?

What Processes Are Used to Precipitate Precious Metals from Liquid Chemical Solutions?

If your liquid chemicals contain gold, silver, platinum or other precious metals, how can they be separated (precipitated) out of their solutions and tuned into solid metallic form again? Several different processes can be used to precipitate previous metals from liquids... 

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Quiz: Which Disappearing Medium Is the Biggest Source of Silver?

Quiz: Which Disappearing Medium Is the Biggest Source of Silver?

Over the last century, all kinds of media – for audio recording, video recording and the recording of still images – have consistently been replaced by new media that have been better in one way or another. And every time something new hit the marketplace, large quantities of the old “stuff” got tossed away, got sold at discount prices, or was snapped up by collectors. So, where can you find silver in obsolete media?

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Complicated Precious Metal Recycling Problems Made Easy

Complicated Precious Metal Recycling Problems Made Easy

Recycling precious metals often involves analyzing and refining big messy batches of mixed materials. People who own these mixed lots of material know that gold or silver or platinum is “in there” somewhere, but don’t know where it is, what it is, or how much of it is present. 

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Don’t Let Precious Silver and Gold Go Down the Drain

If you are in the process of dismantling or selling a manufacturing company, you owe it to yourself and to your bottom line to be sure that you are not overlooking silver and gold that are literally hiding “down the drain” in pipes and other places that you can’t see.

As this photo shows, precious metals can get washed down the drain in many manufacturing processes. They can be reclaimed with the help of a leading gold and silver refinery like Specialty Metals.

Here is some information you should know that could put money in your pocket.

Where can gold and silver be hiding?

It is not uncommon to find them . . .

  • Adhering to the sides of plating and processing tanks
  • Lining the pipes that connect tanks and other pieces of equipment
  • Hiding in screens, filters, mesh, drains and drain traps
  • Clumping in sludge
  • Piling up in quantities of shavings or dust

In those places, gold can often be detected by the naked eye – it does not tarnish and is often easy to spot. Silver, however, may look like a dull black powder. It takes a qualified silver refinery like us to test a sample of what you have to determine its true value.

What manufacturing companies are good places to look for gold?

Some businesses come to mind quickly, others are less obvious . . .

What manufacturing companies are good places to look for silver?

You can find quantities of silver in . . .

  • Plating companies
  • Manufacturers of trophies and commemorative items
  • Photo processing companies and x-ray and imaging laboratories (silver is found down the drain under processing tanks, in processing chemicals, in film, and in photosensitive papers)
  • Manufacturers, dismantlers, and installers of solar panels

Call Us for a Complimentary Consultation

We are here to answer all your questions about gold and silver. Call us at 800-426-2344 for a complimentary consultation.

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Where to Find Precious Metals in Liquid Suspension

For today’s post, let’s assume that you have bought a factory. Along with it, you have come to own bottles or drums of liquid chemicals that were once used there.

What are the odds that those chemicals contain gold, silver or other precious metals that are worth recycling? The most definitive way to answer that question is to send samples of what you have to Precious Metals Smelters and Refiners – with a few simple tests we can determine what you have and its value. Or if your liquid chemicals are labeled, we can tell you what metals they could contain. (We say “could” contain because older lots of chemicals can be contaminated and difficult to process.)

Photo of skids of drums filled used manufacturing fluids containing traces of precious metals that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.

But here’s some helpful information that can give you a rough idea about whether the chemicals you own contain precious metals.

The Presence of Precious Metals Depends on What the Factory Was Producing

Film processing - By far, silver is the most common precious metal that you will find in industrial chemicals, because silver chemicals were (and are) used in the processing of photographic and x-ray films. And as you know, those processes have been very widely used over the last century.

Application of thin films – If your factory was applying thin films of gold or silver onto glass, ceramics, plastics or other surfaces, chances are good that your chemicals contain quantities of those metals that can be recovered by a qualified precious metals refinery. Among the most common examples of those processes are applying reflective films to architectural or optical glass, but there are other processes that use precious metals in suspension too, such as the manufacturing of solar panels. And if your factory was manufacturing decorative ceramic tiles, you could be looking at chemicals that contain gold and other precious metals.

Jewelry manufacturing - Precious metal-bearing chemicals are also used to apply thin films of precious metal – most often gold or platinum – onto watch cases, rings, and other pieces of jewelry. Those plating processes are accomplished by tank plating or brush plating, in which a paste that contains the precious metal is applied by using an electrically charged metal brush.

How Are Precious Metals Extracted from Liquids?

It depends on a number of factors, such as whether the metal exists in the liquid in suspension (small powders of the metal are dispersed in pure form in the liquid) or in a chemical compound (the metal is present as a chemical compound, like silver nitrate, in the liquid). Depending on those factors, different processes can be used, including the use of centrifuges or (more commonly) the introduction of other chemicals that cause reactions in which the precious metals are separated and precipitated out of the liquid.

In either case, it is mysterious to watch precious metals like gold or silver suddenly become available from liquids where they were hiding. If you think we can work that kind of magic for you, give us a call at 800-426-2344 and we can tell you more.

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Let’s Get Wet: What Liquids Contain Valuable Precious Metals?
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How To Recycle Your Old Silver Recovery Columns

A Commercial Real Estate Agent’s Guide to Finding Precious Metals in Buildings

If you’re a real estate broker or developer who deals in industrial or commercial properties, you don’t want to overlook precious metals that could be hiding in the properties that you have bought or represent.

Shown: business for sale sign, which could mean there are valuable precious metals waiting to be recycled inside. If you're a commercial real estate broker, contact Specialty Metals today.

Here is a checklist of places where precious metals could be found in the properties you are working with.

  • Batches of unused welding or brazing supplies – Welding rods and wires often contain quantities of silver and other precious metals that can be profitably reclaimed. Even if you only have scrap pieces of leftover welding rods, they can be valuable.
  • Drums of unused industrial chemicals – They are often worthless. Recycling them responsibly could be costly and difficult. Yet depending on what they were used for, they could contain quantities of precious metals that can be reclaimed.
  • Metals shavings, powder, small bits and other scrap – If metal was being machined in a facility that you have acquired, even the shavings that have piled up under lathes and milling machines could be valuable. Unless you have them analyzed, you will never know.
  • Sludge, sand and industrial byproducts – Depending on the type of processes that were taking place in the facility you own, seemingly worthless materials could contain precious metals.
  • Tanks, pipes, electrodes, and filters that were used in plating processes – If a factory was involved in electroplating, silver or even gold could be recyclable from older components.
  • Catalytic converters that were attached to old diesel or gas engines – They can contain quantities of platinum, palladium, rhodium and other valuable precious metals.
  • Chemicals or supplies that were used in photoprocessing or x-ray processes – Even in a time when the use of traditional films and papers is dwindling, supplies that are left over from those processes are worth recycling because they contain silver.
  • Older computers and electrical devices of all kinds – Older desktop and other computers and electronics, for example, contain gold that can be worth reclaiming.
  • Old gauges, safety cut-offs, and monitoring devices – They are lying around collecting dust in many old factories. But depending on what their purpose was, they could contain valuable components like thermocouples that contain precious metals.
  • Medical testing devices – Old x-ray, MRI, and other medical devices that have outlived their usefulness can still contain lots of valuable metals, including gold, silver and even platinum. They might look like they should be headed to the scrapyard. But don’t send them there until you know about the metals they contain.

Want to Know More?

We are here to help you understand where precious metals can be found. For a no-obligation conversation with our specialists, call us at 800-426-2344.

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Unexpected Places where Precious Metals Can Be Hiding

Sometimes it is easy to see precious metals when you come across them. You see some bright, shiny gold dust in the sand at the bottom of a stream for example, or open a dresser drawer and find your late aunt’s silver dinnerware there. Or maybe you open a box in an old jewelry factory and it is full of shiny silver wires that were once used to manufacture rings and chains.

But many precious metals are not so visible to the naked eye. Some of them seem to be “hiding in plain sight,” or just plain hiding.

Shown: Used silver recovery columns sent to Specialty Metals for the profitable extraction and recycling of the electrolytic silver flake residue they still contain.

Shown: Used silver recovery columns sent to Specialty Metals for the profitable extraction and recycling of the electrolytic silver flake residue they still contain.

Here is a checklist of some of the hard-to-see and hard-to-remember locations where precious metals can be hiding . . .

Inside Pipes

Pipes that are used to move electrolytic fluids to or from plating tanks can have valuable deposits of precious metals inside, where you can’t see them. Depending on what those plating tanks have been used for – for gold plating, for example – those deposits can be well worth recycling.

In Worthless-Looking Used Industrial Mesh

When mesh made of palladium and other precious metals has outlived its life on the production line, it looks worthless – like discolored powder. But the fact is that even worthless-looking quantities of used mesh often contain quantities of precious metals that are valuable.

In Chemicals

If you looked at chemicals that are used in photo processing, for example, you would never know that they contain quantities of silver that can be profitably recycled. You can’t see the silver, but it is certainly there.

In Industrial Waste and Sludge

Shown: mining concentrates that could contain  silver, gold, platinum and other precious metals which could be extracted, processed and recycled by Specialty Metals.

Shown: mining concentrates that could contain  silver, gold, platinum and other precious metals which could be extracted, processed and recycled by Specialty Metals.

How could something with an unglamorous name like “sludge” be worth much of anything? But it can, if it has accumulated as a result of gold or silver-plating operations. If you send in a small sample of sludge to Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, we can quickly tell you whether it contains gold, silver, or another precious metal that can be recycled.

In Unprocessed Deposits of Mine Ore and Sand

If you have visited an old gold, silver, copper or coal mine that is no longer in use, chances are that you have seen quantities of unprocessed mine waste. If it’s lying there unprocessed it must be worthless, right? Well not necessarily. Take copper mining. Anode slimes that result from copper mining often contains small amounts of gold, silver, platinum or other metals that can be recycled, even if those metals were not the primary product that the mine was extracting from the earth.

We’re Experts at the Unexpected

After 32 years of turning scrap into gold, we’ve seen it all from our customers across a wide variety of industries and manufacturing sectors. Send us a sample and let us tell you’ve got profitable precious metals hiding where you least expect it. Click here to start the process.

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How To Recycle Your Old Silver Recovery Columns
Can You Extract Gold from Black Sand?
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Old Kodak Report Tells You How Much Silver Is in Your Photographic Films and Papers

Do you own a photo processing lab with inventories of new and developed film, photographic paper, and developing chemicals?  

Those supplies contain silver that can be extracted and refined. How much silver? We just discovered a very useful report that can help you know.

A Fascinating Older Report from Kodak

Can you spot the silver in this photo of a photographer processing film and making prints? It’s everywhere: in the paper, the chemicals, and the film, and Specialty Metals can help you recycle it all profitably.

Can you spot the silver in this photo of a photographer processing film and making prints? It’s everywhere: in the paper, the chemicals, and the film, and Specialty Metals can help you recycle it all profitably.

Back in 1998, Kodak published a report entitled “Sources of Silver in Photographic Processing Facilities.” (Click here to download the PDF.) It dates from the time before digital photography became the preferred way of taking pictures, but it still contains useful guidelines about sources of silver in photo labs. It was intended to help high-volume photo labs – labs that were developing thousands of rolls of film a day – determine how much money they could recoup by recycling their materials.

The report still offers some great insights on extracting silver from film and other photographic materials. Here are some highlights . . .

  • Photographic papers and films are the biggest source of silver in photo labs.
  • Used photo-processing chemicals – the solutions that are used to develop film – also contain quantities of silver that can be recycled. It’s because those solutions remove quantities of silver from the films they are processing. That silver remains in the used solutions and can be extracted.
  • The tape that is used to splice photographic films contains silver too. The Kodak report states that this source of silver is “often overlooked.”
  • Different kinds of films contain different quantities of silver. The Kodak report states that 1,000 square feet of Kodak Gold Film contain four troy ounces of silver, for example, while 1,000 square feet of Kodak Royal Gold 400 film (a “faster” film with a higher ISO rating) contain only 1.1 troy ounces of silver. It takes a lot of rolls of 35mm film to make up 1,000 square feet; however, the report contains useful tables that help you calculate how many square feet of film can be found in films of different formats and sizes.

Silver is Used in Digital Processing Too

If you’re in the business of processing photos, think “silver.” Even in this age of digital photography, that metal is an integral part of printing photos. Valuable quantities of electrolytic silver flake could result. Also, recycling your used and unused chemicals and  papers to extract the silver that they contain could be a profitable activity for you.

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Why It Pays to Recycle Silver in Old X-Ray Films and Supplies
Let’s Get Wet: What Liquids Contain Valuable Precious Metals?
Why It Pays to Find a Refiner for Silver, the Forgotten Precious Metal