This section is from the American Hand Book of the Daguerreotype, by Samuel D. Humphrey. Published S. D. Humphrey, 37 Lispenard Street 1858.
Exists in combination with the bases, potash, soda, lime, magnesia, in both the mineral and vegetable kingdoms, and is never found insoluble. It has the same constituents as common air, but in different proportions. The strongest nitric acid contains in every pound, two and a quarter ounces of water. Pure nitric acid is colorless, with a specific gravity of 1.5, and boiling at 248 deg.. It is a most powerful oxidizing agent, and is decomposed with more or less rapidity, by almost all the metals, to which it yields a portion of its oxygen.
The nitric acid of commerce, is generally the article used by the Daguerreotypist. This usually contains some chlorine and sulphuric acid. It is obtained by the distillation of saltpetre with sulphuric acid. It is employed in the Daguerreotype process for dissolving silver, preparing chloride or oxide, nitrate of silver, [the former used in galvanizing,] and in combination with muriatic acid for preparing chloride of gold, used in gilding. It is also used by some for preparing the plate.
Acidulated Solution.--This solution is used for cleaning the surface of the Daguerreotype plate. It has the property of softening the silver, and bringing it to a state in which it is very susceptible of being either oxidized or iodized, hence it contributes to increase the sensibility of the plate. The proportions are to one drop of acid add from 15 to 20 drops of water, or make the solution about like sharp vinegar to the taste.