Difference Between Pewter and Silver

Pewter vs Silver

At a glance the difference between pewter and silver is a little difficult to identify as both look similar. One should examine this difference carefully. Therefore, this article discusses these two metals, which are mostly used in commercial industries for several uses. Silver and Pewter both have a great history, has been used since ancient days. Here we discuss their history, properties, natural abundance and their uses in detail. These metals share many differences more than the similarities. This articles mostly focuses on their differences and their different uses in the industry.

What is Silver?

Silver is a naturally available, rare chemical element. It is a transition metal (Atomic number 47) having the electron configuration of [Kr] 5s1 4d10. The chemical name (Ag) “Argentum” is a Latin word, meaning “silver”. Pure silver has a gleaming metallic luster. Silver is a commercially valuable and expensive metal. It has so many commercial uses. Pure silver is the best electrical and thermal conductor among the other metals.

Silver is a precious metal, because it is not very abundant on the earth crust. Silver metal is found in ores and it can be found in both pure and impure form. It is very attractive and chemically not very reactive. These properties make silver metal in using for jewels, coins and art. Silver has a great history, because the man used it for thousands of years.

The hardness of silver is slightly higher than that of gold. Silver does not react with the air and water and it shows the lowest contact resistance of all metals. It discolors when exposed to ozone (O3), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), or air containing sulfur.

What is Pewter?

Pewter is a metal having 90% to 98% of tin in its composition. In addition to tin, pewter contains copper, antimony, bismuth and lead. Those substances are added to modify its properties. For example, hardness of pewter is very low and copper and antimony increases the property of hardness. The composition of pewter varies depending on the usage.

The history of this metal runs back to the beginning of the Bronze Age. The earliest known item made by pewter belongs to the period of 1580 – 1350 BC. It is a flask that was found in a grave at Abydos in Egypt.

Difference Between Pewter and Silver

What is the difference between Pewter and Silver?

• Silver is a pure metal in the periodic table, and it is often found as a free element in nature. Pewter is an alloy, its composition varies depending on the type of the usage.

• Silver has a relatively high melting point; melting point of silver is 961.93°C and its boiling point is 2212 °C.

• Pewter has a very low melting point around 170 0C to 232 0C. Its melting point changes as the composition varies.

• Silver alloy has many uses: Sterling silver (Silver: Copper = 92.5: 7.5) used to make jewels and silverware. Silver is used in photography, dental equipment, batteries, mirrors, solder and electrical contacts. There are so many industries used silver in their productions. Pewter is used to make tableware (plates, mugs, jugs, spoons, dishes and basins) and jewels during ancient days.

• Silver has 38 known isotopes and pewter does not have isotopes.


Pewter vs Silver

Silver and Pewter are both metals and both of these metals have commercial uses. Silver is a naturally occurring free element and pewter is an alloy. The main element in pewter’s composition is tin; more than 90% of its composition is tin and copper, antimony, bismuth and lead are the rest. Silver is used as an alloy and as a pure metal. Both silver and pewter had been used for thousands of years by the human. Silver is considered as a precious metal since its abundance on the earth is low.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Pewter Plate by Henryk Kotowski (CC BY-SA 3.0)