A Closer Look At Colloidal Silver By Peter A. Lindemann,
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Making Your Own
The simplest way to control these factors is to make the colloidal silver for yourself. By doing this, you will not know exactly what is there unless you do laboratory testing, but you will have a pretty good idea. Without laboratory testing of commercial products, you don't know much more, because the quality control batch to batch is loose with most brands. Also, by making it yourself, you will end up with real "colloidal" silver, which is the product referred to in most of the literature.
If you are already making your own colloidal silver, please pay special attention to this section because much of the information you now have may be incorrect.
The simplest way to make real colloidal silver at home is by the "low voltage electrolysis" method. A few batteries may be connected to some silver electrodes and placed in a glass of water. This process will cause small particles of silver to be sintered off the electrodes and enter the water. This deceptively simple method is very easy to do WRONG, and most people who are making colloidal silver at home are making an inferior product.
It's In The Water
When you do this yourself, it is very important to control the purity of the water, because the purity of the water is one of the factors that controls how small the particles of silver will be. Only high quality DISTILLED water should be used. You cannot use purified or filtered water because it still has too many dissolved minerals in it. You cannot use deionized water because it doesn't conduct electricity well enough to start the reaction. Distilled water is just perfect to start the reaction slowly and let it proceed properly.
Another variable that influences particle size is the water temperature. The warmer the water, the faster the reaction will take place, and the smaller the particles will be.
Please Pass The Salt
Regardless of what anyone has said to the contrary, silver chloride will ALWAYS form if any amount of salt is present. Never add anything to the water that will make the water conduct electricity better. Never add salt, sea salt, or Celtic sea salt to the distilled water because the salt puts chloride ions in the water that react with the silver to form silver chloride. Another serious problem arises when making colloidal silver with salt in the water. The presence of salt increases the electrical conductivity of the water and this dramatically speeds up the reaction. As the reaction speeds up under these circumstances, it produces larger particles. The product produced is invariably cloudy-white in appearance. Actual electron microscope photographs of this material show silver particles in the range of .05 to .15 microns. These particles are TOO LARGE to form a colloidal suspension, and the proof is that the material will settle to the bottom of the container in a very short period of time. Therefore, this home brewed "colloidal silver" product may be dangerous to consume internally for TWO reasons: the presence of silver chloride and the production of large particles.
The Best Is Yet To Come
The very best voltage for the reaction is 30 volts, because the electrodes run the cleanest at this voltage. If you have a small power supply, set it for 30 volts. If you are running on batteries, it is best to start at 36 volts (three 12 volt batteries or four 9 volt batteries) and let the batteries drain down from there. Holding the silver electrodes at a uniform distance away from each other yields a better product.
When 30 volts is applied across silver electrodes held uniformly apart in distilled water, a totally different event happens. First, the reaction proceeds very slowly. Often, for the first 15 minutes nothing seems to be happening. Then finally, a faint yellow mist will begin to form. Within a few minutes, the reaction will speed up, but the particles produced will be a golden-yellow as viewed with a flashlight. Using this method, 8 ounces of distilled water at room temperature can be made into a 3-5 ppm colloidal silver preparation in 20-25 minutes. Made this way, colloidal silver can cost under 10¢/oz to make. Electron microscope photographs of this product show a silver particle size in the range .001 to .004 microns. During manufacturing, the particle cloud is a golden-yellow. These particles will hang in the water at the level they are produced, and for the most part, will not fall to the bottom of the glass. This is what a "colloidal" preparation of silver looks like. After the particles disperse, the water will look clear again, but may turn a light yellow if the concentration is high enough and after the particles have become evenly dispersed.
"The Yellow Color"
There has been a fair amount of controversy in the public literature concerning the appearance of the "yellow" color. A lot of well meaning people have told me that "yellow is bad", "silver isn't yellow", "yellow is sulfur contamination", "yellow is iron contamination", and lots of other things. I finally found what I believe to be the answer to this question in a book titled Practical Colloid Chemistry, published in London in 1926. In the section on the "Colours of Colloidal Metals", sub-section on the "Polychromism of silver solutions" on page 69, I found the following statements: "The continuous change in colour from yellow to blue corresponds to a change in the absorption maximum of the shorter to longer wave-lengths with a decreasing degree of dispersion. This is a general phenomenon in colloid chemistry illustrating the relation between colour and degree of dispersion." This section goes on to describe the colors that show up in a wide variety of colloidal metal solutions. Interestingly, they ALL have a yellow phase. For true "electro-colloidal" silver, the particle size range that can appear yellow is .01 to .001 microns (10 to 100 angstroms) because that is the size of silver particle that best absorbs the indigo light, leaving only its inverse color, yellow, to be observed. The final transparent-yellow appearance only shows up after the particles have become evenly dispersed.
The Brown Glass Bottle
Once you have gone to the trouble of making colloidal silver particles as small as .001 microns, it is important to protect them. The particles stay away from each other in suspension because they each have a positive electrical charge (+) and these "like charges" repel each other. Anything that can strip this charge off the particles will degrade the quality of the colloidal silver by a process called re-coagulation, where the particles clump together again to form larger aggregates. Ultraviolet light from the sun and many plastics can cause this process to occur. Therefore, colloidal silver is best stored in dark, glass containers. The two kinds of glass container that are suitable for this are the dark amber and the cobalt blue.
The Same Difference
The biggest "secret" about the manufacture of high quality colloidal silver is that it is nearly impossible to standardize the product. Silver is apparently reactive to a number of natural forces that have yet to be identified. Even when the voltage, the water, and the water temperature are identical, different batches will proceed at different rates on different days. The speed of the reaction can vary by over 100% depending on the day. On "normal" days, the reaction is proceeding well by 15 minutes, with a visible cloud of particles. On "slow days" it may take 30 minutes before any visible production of yellow particles begins. Because of this variation, it is always wise to observe the reaction with a B flashlight so you can see how quickly the reaction is happening. Once the yellow cloud starts forming, time the batch for 5 more minutes. This is the best way to standardize your home brewed colloidal silver.
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