Chemistry

Interesting Facts about Silver



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Most people generally know about the precious metal silver through rings, necklaces and other pieces of jewelry and this is one of the common uses of the metal. However it can be also be utilized for many other purposes and is a metal that has been valued highly for centuries. Here are a few interesting and fun facts about silver.

The symbol for silver in the periodic table of elements is Ag. This comes from the Latin name for the metal which is Argentum. The name silver itself is believed to have been derived from the old Anglo-Saxon word ‘seolfor’.

People who were ‘born with a silver spoon in their mouth’ tends to refer to those who were lucky enough to be born into wealthy families. However it is believed the saying stemmed more from a health rather than a wealth perspective, because children fed with silver spoons and other silver utensils tended to be healthier.

Prior to the advent of antibiotics, silver compounds were used to prevent infection. Even in this day and age of highly advanced medicines, silver compounds can still be used externally to successfully treat burns victims.

Silver has been used for making coins for thousands of years. Its earliest recorded use in coin making is believed to be around 700BC and this has been continued throughout history. 90% silver coins were used in the US until the mid 1960’s.

Silver is common in myths and legends about werewolves. It was believed that the way to kill this creature was to use silver. This could be fashioned into a sword or dagger although this meant getting up close and personal to a werewolf and more typically these days it is said that a silver bullet is the way to kill one of these beasts.

Cloud seeding can be used in areas of drought in an attempt to produce rain. One of the compounds which can be used in this process is silver iodide.

In ancient China babies were traditionally given a silver necklace. This was placed around their neck as it was believed that this had the power to ward off evil spirits.

Sterling silver is a mixture of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. Typically copper is the other metal used in the mixture although germanium, zinc and platinum can also be used. However copper tends to be preferred as it toughens the alloy produced without detracting from the shine characteristics of the silver.

Fine silver is at least 99.9% silver although the metal is too soft for general use which is why sterling silver is more commonly used.

It is estimated that 1,740,000 metric tons of silver have been discovered to date with more than half of this coming from just four countries in the world. Silver producing countries include America, Russia, Mexico, Peru, Canada and Australia.

More than two thirds of the silver produced as actually a by product of the mining of other metals such as lead, cooper and zinc.

Of all the elements in the periodic table, silver is the best conductor of heat. This makes it useful in technology such as solar panels and also a car's rear window defogger. The metal is also the best conductor of electricity and can be used in electrical circuits and also in batteries.

Silver can also be used in photography and a great deal of the metal which is produced today is used for this purpose.

If you are looking to mine some silver of your own then a trip to British Columbia could be on the cards. The northern Cordillera area here is believed to have a number of undeveloped deposits making it a great place to locate new discoveries.

Many people have silver jewelry and through the ages this precious metal has been highly prized. However it can be used in a number of other applications so the next time you look at your silver ring or necklace remember what an amazing metal it is.

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