Purify water with silver?
I have heard that silver is a antimicrobial and can be used to purify water. So if I was hiking and filled up my water bottle at a stream. Could I just drop a silver round or bar in the water let it sit and not worry about the bacteria and bad stuff? Or is it not that simple?
I currently use iodine, but the thought crossed my mind a few times. Just wanted to check with the board and get some opinions.
I am not so sure it is that simple but it could be, here is an interesting read about using silver:
Manufacturers are increasingly looking toward silver as the answer. Silver is one of the oldest known antimicrobials. An earlier article examined the benefits and limits of several processes for silver antimicrobial technologies and briefly reviewed ionic plasma deposition.2 This article examines biofilms and how they develop on medical devices. It also describes a new silver nanotechnology chemistry that has proven to be effective against them.
Antimicrobial silver is now used extensively to combat organisms in wounds and burns. It works because pathogens cannot mutate to avoid its antimicrobial effect. In the process of developing burn and wound silver technologies, researchers have studied the ability of silver’s antimicrobial properties to remain effective in the face of virulent pathogens.
Silver Kills Microorganisms. When mobilized from its reservoir in aqueous fluids, silver provides an antimicrobial action. The positively charged ionic form is highly toxic for microorganisms but has relatively low toxicity for human tissue cells.
Silver works in a number of ways to disrupt critical functions in a microorganism. For example, it has a high affinity for negatively charged side groups on biological molecules. These include groups such as sulfhydryl, carboxyl, phosphate, and other charged groups distributed throughout microbial cells. This binding reaction alters the molecular structure of the macromolecule, rendering it worthless to the cell.
Silver simultaneously attacks multiple sites within the cell to inactivate critical physiological functions such as cell-wall synthesis, membrane transport, nucleic acid (such as RNA and DNA) synthesis and translation, protein folding and function, and electron transport, which is important in generating energy for the cell. Without these functions, the bacterium is either inhibited from growth or, more commonly, the microorganism is killed.
The development of resistance to antimicrobial silver would be extremely rare because an organism would have to undergo simultaneous mutations in every critical function within a single generation to escape the silver’s influence. Spontaneous mutation is rare, occurring in only one per 100,000 divisions, so the probability of multiple dependent mutations occurring in the same generation of microbes is extremely unlikely.
Because silver affects so many different functions of the microbial cell, it is nonselective, resulting in antimicrobial activity against a broad spectrum of medically relevant microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, and yeasts. Silver is also more efficient than traditional antibiotics because it is extremely active in small quantities. For certain bacteria, as little as one part per billion of
silver may be effective in preventing cell growth.
Last edited by vicdotcom; 08-09-2009 at 02:36 PM..
The value of silver in medicine, and as a purifier has been
acknowledged for centuries. Egyptians implantes silver
plates into skulls, with surgery. In ancient Greece and
Rome, people used silver containers to keep liquids fresh.
When settlers moved across the American West, they would
purify a container of water by putting a silver dollar in
it overnight, and silver dollars were used to keep milk
Toward the end of the 19th Century, other medical uses for
silver were developed, including the use of silver and mer-
cury in the filling of cavities, and dropping a silver nit-
rate solution into the eyes of new-born babies to prevent
blindness due to infection.
Scores of independent tests by many methods in 6 countries
have shown that silver promptly kills bacteria in water and
maintains water purity over long periods of time. Russian scient-
ists, working on water recycling and purification problems
for the Soviet space program have decided on silver as the
best long-term sanitizing agent. Researching the problems
of water storage over periods of several months, as well
as purification for immediate use, they determined that
ionized silver provides the safest and longest lasting
method of transforming polluted waste into potable water.
After testing 23 methods of purifying water, NASA has chosen
silver as the purifying agent on the Space Shuttle Program.
Silver will be used in two functions that will provide
Shuttle crews with pure water for drinking, air condition-
ing, food preparation and other operations. Water wastes
will be recycled in Shuttle flights and silver's first job
will be to treat hydrogen-saturated water coming from the
Shuttle fuel cells: this water will pass through a tubular
device of palladium and silver alloy. From the silver-
palladium tubes water will flow to a purifying unit where
silver will eliminate bacteria, including Pseudomonas A
and type IIIA bacteria, NASA scientists report. By establ-
ishing 100 parts of silver in a billion parts of water as
hygenic for drinking in the Shuttle, NASA eliminates the
need for 1,000 to 1,500 parts per billion of chlorine
generally used for purification.
The unit will provide Shuttle crews with 32 gallons of
pure water daily for all uses within the Shuttle, and
for backpacks when the Astronauts work outside the veh-
icle in Space. Compared to earlier prototypes, the new
unit weighs 90% less, needs only one third the space,
doubles the production of water and simplifies the proc-
ess: it eliminates the need for mixing, metering and test-
ing water while in flight and eliminates the risk of cor-
The most dramatic purification tests occured in 1976 in a
20,000 gallon swimming pool in Nebraska. There was no dis-
infectant of any kind in the water. Fifty gallons of mun-
icipal sewage plant effluent was put in the pool. That
produced a dangerous concentration of 7,000 E. Coli bac-
teria cells per 100 milliliters (half a cup) of water.
Contents of the pool were pumped through a tank con-
taining alternating anodic and cathodic silver electrodes
for disinfection. Within three hours the pool was entirely
free of E. Coli bacteria and the water contained only 3.2
parts of silver per billion parts of water.
The Allegeny County Health Department in Pennsylvania
conducted tests in a 152,000 gallon pool which previously
has been disinfected by a 50 pounds-per-day chlorinator.
The system was replaced by a silver system for the swim-
ming seasons of 1974 and 1975. Pool water circulated thr-
ough a filter of activated carbon impregnated with metal-
lic silver. The county Health Department took up to 50
daily samples and found that silver ions remained in
the pool at a low, steady rate of 20 parts per billion
with water free of coliform, pseudomonas and staphylococcus
bacteria through-out the two seasons. In contrast, 65
water samples from 30 other pools having a mean concen-
tration of 700 parts per billion of available chlorine
for disinfecting, showed a mean of 1.3 pseudomonas and
7.3 staph. cells per milliliter of water.
"This data", the Health Department reported, "indicates that
silver is equal to chlorine in maintaining essentially
coliform free pool water, and is somewhat better than
chlorine in destroying pseudomonas and staph. aureus org-
anisms ....." It should be noted that there were no visible
growths of algae during the tests.
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I should re-phrase my question. It seems silver ions are used in most water purification. By submerging two .999+ silver pieces in water, one with a positive current, one with a negative current you can create silver ions in the water. (Colloidal Silver as mentioned by ColoradoWildcat) My question is that would simply dropping the silver in the water without any current have any sort of purification result?
Good luck getting a straight answer. Too many hippies and granola heads here that will chime in worthless opinions based on wives tales etc.
I hope someone with scientific fact will shed some light on this interesting topic, but be careful accepting anything posted here as your health depends on it.
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I'm pretty sure that, if all you had to do to purify water was add silver, everyone would know about it and it would factor into the silver collecting/hoarding discussion.
Colloidal silver isn't even a sure thing, though it is a great antimicrobial and a good thing to be able to make for yourself.
There's a little more to it than just zapping electricity through the water though. Take a quick google for colloidal silver generators and you'll see that you can make one easily enough, and I encourage you to do it!
As everyone else has pointed out colloidal silver generators will purify water. You can also keep a couple ounces of 10ppm colloidal silver on hand to use as a topical disinfectant, oral antimicrobial, or to purify water with. 1oz of 10ppm colloidal silver is said to purify up to 1gal, so a 1 or 2qt canteen should be no problem.
Incomplete thought: I meant to say that the Egyptians and settlers used solid silver only to store already clean water and help fight against contamination. But solid silver will not clean otherwise "dirty" water.