A second hand mirror is essentially a highly reflective surface. The type that people see on walls or in bathrooms are known as back-silvered mirrors. This means that the reflective surface (in most modern ones, this is aluminum) is viewed through a thin layer of glass. The glass protects the aluminum from scratching and bubbling, but also distorts the image somewhat. Modern ones are made by allowing liquid metals to condense on a sheet of glass can provide a surface far more reflective than anything achieved by polish. This can be done at home with only a few supplies easily acquired at a local chemistry shop.
With pure silver nitrate, distilled water, and ammonia, a person can make a second hand mirror virtually indistinguishable from those purchased at a store. The process (in abbreviated form) involves dissolving a small amount of silver nitrate in distilled water, then adding diluted ammonia until the mixture goes through distinct chemical changes. A second mixture is made using silver nitrate and Rochelle salts. This mixture must be boiled and filtered. By pouring these mixtures on to a very clean piece of glass sufficiently heated to the proper temperature, the silver will precipitate and form an even coating on the glass. After drying, the back of the silver can be coated with a solid paint to help prevent degradation of the silver.
Hope you enjoyed learning about how second hand mirrors are made! To view a wide range of second hand mirrors visit our website, or see in store for a bigger selection.