Silver have been used for centuries to sanitize water. Copper is a well know algicide and silver is a powerful bactericide. In the ancient Greek civilization, the royalty used to drink from silver goblets and their water was stored in silver urns in order to purify their drinking water. As the pioneer settlers moved west across the American continent, they insured safe drinking water by putting silver coins in their barrels of water and milk. In the 1960's, NASA developed an electrolytic silver ionizer to purify the astronauts drinking water for use on the Apollo missions. Today silver is used in medications for treatment of burn patients to prevent infections, for newborns to prevent blindness, to make bacteria free cosmetics, in drinking water filters, and for filling cavities in teeth to help prevent further decay. Copper based algicides have long been used in swimming pools, fountains, lakes and ponds to safely control algae problems.
Lesser known facts about Silver
One of the most fascinating properties of silver is its bactericidal quality. Small concentrations of silver or silver salts kill bacteria by chemically affecting the cell membranes, causing them to break down. Bacteria do not develop resistance to silver, as they do to many antibiotics. Because of its bactericidal properties, silver nitrate drops are used to clean the eyes of newborns in much of the world. Silver rich creams are common household ointments for burns. Cotton gauze soaked in silver solution is proving a miracle cure for intensive care burn victims. While silver keeps bacteria at bay, it also cauterises minor capillaries, preventing blood loss, and the build-up of excessive scar tissue. Silver gauze is used to pack wounds of patients during transport to medical facilities. It is relatively inert in the human body, so it is commonly used to pin fractured bones, and sew large wounds. Silver-based water purification systems, both portable and industrial, are gaining widespread popularity.
Water Purification using Silver
Silver is employed as a bactericide and algaecide in an ever increasing number of water purification systems in hospitals, remote communities and, more recently, domestic households. Silver ions have been used to purify drinking water and swimming pool water for generations. New research into silver compounds is providing physicians with powerful, clinically effective treatments against which bacteria cannot develop resistance. An increasing trend is the millions of on-the-counter and under-the-counter water purifiers that are sold each year in the United States to rid drinking water of bacteria, chlorine, trihalomethanes, lead, particulates, and odor. Here silver is used to prevent the buildup of bacteria and algae in the filters. Of the billions of dollars spent yearly in the U.S. for drinking water purification systems, over half make advantageous use of the bactericidal properties of silver. New research has shown that the catalytic action of silver, in concert with oxygen, provides a powerful sanitizer, virtually eliminating the need for the use of corrosive chlorine.
Portable Water Filters Keep Hikers on the Trail: Silver Keeps Pocket Pumps Bacteria Free
Even when you're backpacking in the wilderness, clean, drinkable water is hard to find. Campers have traditionally boiled water or treated it with iodine tablets. Boiling water is not always practical and iodine has its own shortcomings. Not only can iodine take twenty minutes or longer to kill dangerous microorganisms but some people are allergic to it. Enter a new crop of pocket-sized water pumps that turn stream water into potable water on the fly, and they rely on silver to keep their filters safe and pure. Many of these silver-impregnated ceramic filters - sometimes containing beneficial chemicals to kill viruses, too - have pores so small that bacteria such as cholera, typhoid, and E. coli can't pass through them. Silver's natural anti-bacterial action keeps bacteria from building up on the filters which can remain wet for months at a time. This built-in, anti-bacterial feature also allows the filters to be cleaned with fresh water once the trip is over and reused many more times.
Silver News - June/July 1997
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