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About Water Purity

Impure water turns white when silver is added

You must use steam distilled or de-ionized water for mirroring.

Mirroring is a water-based process. The quality of the water is important. Bottled water that is not steam distilled or de-ionized is not pure enough for mirroring.

A Simple Water Test

To test the purity of your water, pour a little water into a disposable transparent cup. Add a few drops of Silver Solution. If the water turns white and cloudy, it is not pure enough for mirroring.


Why Water Quality Matters

Mirroring chemicals contain metal salts dissolved in water. When the salts combine with other mirroring chemicals, the metal comes out of solution and deposits on the glass. The reaction does not work properly when there are unknown chemicals, especially other metal salts, present in the mix.

Water Purification Techniques


Distilled water is condensed from steam. Impurities that don’t evaporate, like sodium chloride in sea water and metal leached from plumbing pipes, are removed. Some volatile compounds like hydrocarbons and solvents remain, but these do not affect the mirroring process. Steam distilled water is sold in many supermarkets for ironing clothes and washing windows and cars. Steam distilled water is usually the best and cheapest option for mirroring.


Deionized water is filtered through ion exchange resins that bind and filter out mineral salts leaving the water almost as pure as distilled water. This kind of water is also called “demineralized” or “de-mineralized”. The resins are also called “water softeners” and are usually packed into a long tube with the water running through it. After a time the resin has bound as much of the mineral content as it can and has to be refreshed. While expensive, a deionizing column produces water pure enough for mirroring.

Reverse Osmosis

This is a relatively new technique in water purification which mechanically removes large particles by forcing the contaminated water through a membrane which allows the small water molecules to pass through but not the larger salt and organic molecules. It is the ways the kidneys in your body remove waste products and is used in dialysis machines. It does not involve adding any chemicals or boiling but the membrane eventually gets clogged and must be replaced.

Household Filters

Standard household water filters use activated carbon to remove chlorine, particulates and volatile organic compounds from tap water. Because they do not remove minerals and other dissolved inorganic salts, they do not produce water that is pure enough for mirroring.

Rain Water

Rain water and tap water contain dissolved organic and inorganic compounds. While many of these are essential for human health, they can seriously affect the mirroring process. Water for mirroring needs to be pure; it does not need to be sterile. Most biological contaminants will not affect the process.

Water for Cleaning

You do not need to use pure water to clean the glass. Hot tap water works fine for scrubbing and polishing. You must remove the tap water by rinsing the glass thoroughly with pure (distilled) water before you proceed with tinning and mirroring it. Spraying the glass with purified water is the most efficient and cost effective way to rinse it. Water used for cleaning can go directly into the public sewer.

Treating Waste Water

Mirroring chemicals – and therefore the mirroring waste water – contain heavy metals. The clay in our Waste Treatment Kit binds and isolates heavy metals. Used clay can be safely put in the solid trash. Treated, filtered waste water can be safely poured down the drain. See our Waste Treatment Instructions for details.