If mirrors coated with amalgam become damaged they may sometimes be successfully repaired by one of the following processes:


Place the old mirror in a weak solution of nitric acid—say 5 per cent— which immediately removes the silver. Rinse it a little, and then clean very thoroughly with a pledget of cotton-wool and a mixture of whiting and ammonia. Rouge will answer in place of whiting, or, as a last extreme, finest levigated pumice, first applied to a waste glass to crush down any possible grit. This cleaning is of the utmost importance, as upon its thoroughness depends eventual success. Front, back, and edges must alike be left in a state above suspicion. The plate is then again flowed with weak acid, rinsed under the tap, then flowed back and front with distilled water, and kept immersed in a glass-covered dish of distilled water until the solutions are ready.

The depositing vessel is the next consideration, and it should be realized that unless most of the silver in the solution finds its way on to the face of the mirror it were cheaper that the glass should be sent to the professional mirror-maker. The best plan is to use a glass dish allowing a 1/16 inch margin all round the mirror, inside. But such a glass dish is expensive, having to be made specially, there being no regular sizes near enough to 4x7 or 8x5 (usual mirror sizes). If too large, a dish must perforce be used, the sides or ends of which should be filled up with sealing wax. Pour strips of glass are temporarily bound together with 2 or 3 turns of string, so as to form a hollow square. The side pieces are 1/8 inch longer outside, and the end pieces 1/8 inch wider than the mirror glass. This frame is placed in about the center of the dish, moistened with glycerine, and the molten wax flowed outside of it to a depth of about 3/4 of an inch or more. For economy's sake, good "parcel wax" may be used, but best red sealing wax is safer. This wax frame may be used repeatedly, being cleaned prior to each silvering operation. It is the only special appliance necessary, and half an hour is a liberal time allowance for making it.

Use a stock solution of silver nitrate of the strength of 25 grains to 1 ounce of distilled water: Take 2 drachms of silver nitrate stock solution and convert it to ammonia nitrate, by adding ammonia drop by drop until the precipitate is re-dissolved. Add 3.5 ounces of distilled water.

In another measure take 80 drops (approximately 74 minims) of 40 per cent formalin. Pour the solution of ammonio nitrate of silver into the measure containing the formalin, then back into the original measure, and finally into the dish containing the glass to be silvered. This should be done rapidly, and the dish containing the mirror well rocked until the silvering is complete, which may be ascertained by the precipitation of a black, flocculent deposit, and the clearing of the solution. The actual process of silvering takes about 2 minutes.

Cleanliness throughout is of the greatest importance. The vessels in which the solutions are mixed should be well rinsed with a solution of bichromate of potash and sulphuric acid, then washed out three or four times under the tap, and finally with distilled water. For cleansing, dip the glass for a short time in a solution of bichromate of potash, to which a little sulphuric acid is added. The glass is afterwards well rinsed for a minute or two under the tap, flooded with distilled water, and dried with a clean linen cloth. A little absolute alcohol is then rubbed on with a soft linen handkerchief, which is immediately rolled into a pad and used for well polishing the surface. The cleaning with alcohol is repeated to avoid risk of failure.

After the mirror has been silvered, hold it under the tap and allow water to flow over it for about 3 minutes. Rinse it with distilled water, and stand it up on edge on blotting paper. When it is quite dry take a pad of very soft wash-leather, spread a small quantity of finest opticians' rouge on a sheet of clean glass, and well coat the pad with rouge by polishing the sheet of glass. A minute quantity of rouge is sufficient. Afterwards polish the mirror by gently rubbing the surface with the pad, using a circular stroke.

It will be seen that with this process it is unnecessary to suspend the mirror in the silvering solution, as usually recommended. The mirror is laid in the dish, which is a distinct advantage, as the progress of the silvering may be watched until complete. The film also is much more robust than that obtained by the older methods.


Clean the bare portion of the glass by rubbing it gently with fine cotton, taking care to remove any trace of dust and grease. If this cleaning be not done very carefully, defects will appear around the place repaired. With the point of a penknife cut upon the back of another looking glass around a portion of the silvering of the required form, but a little larger. Upon it place a small drop of mercury; a drop the size of a pin's head will be sufficient for a surface equal to the size of the nail. The mercury spreads immediately, penetrates the amalgam to where it was cut off with the knife, and the required piece may be now lifted and removed to the place to be repaired. This is the most difficult part of the operation. Then press lightly the renewed portion with cotton; it hardens almost immediately, and the glass presents the same appearance.

Clouding of Mouth Mirrors

By means of the finger, slightly moistened, apply a film of soap of any brand or kind to the mirror; then rub this off with a clean, dry cloth; the mirror will be as bright and clear as ever. Breathing on it will not affect its clearness and the mirror does not suffer from the operation.