Facts about silver

We found 24 facts about silver

One of the earliest metals used by humanity

Silver is one of the first metals discovered by man, it has been known since antiquity. The Egyptians valued them more than gold. It was used to make decorations, dishes, and cutlery, and its valuable medicinal properties were quickly realized. As new deposits were discovered, they became more and more common, and even undesirable for gold seekers, often confused with platinum, which was contemptuously called "silver". This metal has been used to produce coins for centuries and is the most common raw material used for this purpose. As science and technology developed, a number of its valuable properties were discovered and learned, as a result of which it has found many applications and is an indispensable metal in many fields.

Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag, belonging to the group of transition metals (gold, platinum) in the periodic table.

The Latin name for silver is argentum.

It is a silvery-white metal.

Its color misled gold seekers who, finding a gold nugget combined with a silvery metal, were mistakenly convinced that it was silver and treated it quite contemptuously. They were unaware that in this case, they were often dealing with platinum.

Silver occurs in nature in its native form (a rare mineral consisting mainly of metallic silver), along with sulfur, arsenic, antimony and chlorine.

It is also found in the ores: argentite (a rare mineral from the sulfide group), chlorargyrite (a very rare mineral from the halide group), and pyrargyrite (a mineral from the sulfur-salt group, very rare). The main sources of silver are copper, copper-nickel, gold, lead, and lead-zinc ores.

It is approximately 17 times more abundant in the Earth's crust than gold.

Silver is mined in Mexico, Peru, China, Australia, Chile, Poland, Russia, Bolivia, USA, Argentina, Canada, Kazakhstan, India, Turkey, Sweden, Guatemala, Morocco, Indonesia, Iran, and Papua New Guinea.

Silver is a metal slightly harder than gold.

It is a very ductile and malleable metal with a shiny luster and can be easily polished.

Of all metals, it has the highest electrical conductivity, greater than copper.

However, it cannot be used for the production of electrical cables because it is subject to corrosion due to the presence of sulfur oxides in the atmosphere. Its price is also important. During World War II, due to the copper shortage, silver was used in electromagnets to enrich uranium.

Silver also has the highest thermal conductivity, the brightest color, and the highest light reflectance among metals for visible light.

Aluminum (Al) reflects ultraviolet light even more.

Silver has the lowest contact resistance among all metals.
Silver does not react with clean air and water.

However, it becomes dull upon contact with ozone, hydrogen sulfide, and air polluted with sulfur compounds. Silver halides slowly decompose when exposed to light.

Pure high-quality silver contains at least 99.9 percent of this metal.

Purity levels above 99.999 percent can also be found.

The use of silver is very wide, mainly as a precious metal.

925 silver alloyed with copper is used to make jewelry, dishes and cutlery, medals, and musical instruments, e.g. flutes. Silver guarantees a special, characteristic sound color. Flutes are also made of gold and platinum.

Silver is the raw material for the production of coins.

Coins were produced from it as early as the 7th century BC. They were made in an ancient country called Lydia, from an alloy of silver and gold called electrum.

Later, pure silver coins were produced.

The British pound was initially worth 1 pound of 925 silver jewelry.

The words "silver" and "money" sound identical in at least 14 languages around the world.
Silver has been used in photographic technology.

It is used there to obtain silver halides (primarily silver bromide) used as photosensitive substances.

Silver compounds are used to silver mirrors and to produce explosives (e.g. silver acetylides).

They are also used in analytical chemistry, e.g. to detect aldehydes (Tollens test).

Silver compounds are toxic to bacteria, viruses, fungi and algae.

Compounds of other heavy metals, such as copper, lead, or mercury, also have such properties, but silver compounds are not as harmful to humans. They kill many microorganisms in vitro. Silver ions can change the structure of cell walls and the nuclear envelope, disorganizing bacterial cells. Silver also binds to bacterial DNA and RNA, preventing them from replicating.

Silver is also used in the production of electrical and electronic equipment, high-voltage contacts, solder, high-capacity silver-zinc and silver-cadmium batteries, and photovoltaic cells.

Silver is the only catalyst that allows the conversion of ethylene into ethylene oxide, which then undergoes hydrolysis to produce ethylene glycol, used to produce polyester.

Attempts are being made to create a silver membrane that would separate oxygen from air, taking advantage of the fact that oxygen is easily absorbed by silver.
Silver is also used in medicine. Its healing properties were already described by Hippocrates.

Its importance in medicine lies in the use of strong antibacterial properties. Before antibiotics were available, silver compounds were used to prevent infections during World War I.

Silver is used in medicine wherever it is necessary to reduce the risk of bacterial infections (surgical instruments, dialysis devices).

Silver is also currently used in disinfectants and disinfectants, as well as preparations to prevent infection of wounds and burns.

In alternative medicine, the so-called colloidal silver as a remedy for various ailments.

Taking too large doses of such silver may lead to argyrosis, and discoloration of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes to a blue-gray color, which is an irreversible process.

Due to its bactericidal properties, silver is also used in the textile industry.
The largest silver producer in Europe is Poland.

The Lower Silesian copper and silver deposits, exploited by KGHM Polska Miedź, were in second place among global silver producers in 2019. The KGHM plant is the largest silver mine in the world (according to the World Silver Survey 2020 report). The main recipients of silver produced by the company are Great Britain, the USA, and Belgium.

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