Fixing a colloidal silver unit and making a slightly dangerous one.



Please note that the safety of ingesting colloidal silver is not proven, so I do not advise making it to drink. It may have other uses for its antibacterial properties. My own experimentation with it was mainly for the novelty of diffusing metal into liquid electrically.

A friend sent this to me for repair. It has a few design issues that I fixed.
I also make a simple, but distinctly unsafe looking prototype of a mains voltage unit that can impart nasty (but very low current) shocks from its electrodes.

Note that my mains voltage unit was an experiment. If you emulate it, the resistors must be the correct value (triple check!), good quality and there must be several in series as they are a safety critical component. Hot melt glue and heatshrink is not an acceptable approach for a commercial product. It may well be functional, but the appearance won’t do you any favours if there is an incident.

For those not familiar with colloidal silver – it’s one of those “Internet things” that are quite controversial.
You make it by passing a low current between two pure silver electrodes in distilled water, and as a result a fine diffusion of silver particles form in the liquid. There are definite uses for colloidal silver, but its credibility takes a major hit when the quacks get involved. Claims are made that it cures everything, with the more delusional preachers actively putting people’s lives at risk by implying it is an alternative to other proven treatments.

There’s a wide range of opinion on the purity of water used and whether there should be any additives. Ideally the water should be very clean distilled water, as impurities can result in the silver bonding to other elements and making random silver salts. The downside of pure distilled water is that it has a very high resistance, resulting in the need for a modest voltage to result in current flow. As the water becomes silver enriched it also becomes progressively more conductive.

The concentration is usually measured by a TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meter which indicates parts per million based on water conductivity between two electrodes.
Using ordinary tap water or accelerating the process with salts results in a complex silver cocktail that may have some uses. People who consume huge quantities of colloidal silver have developed a condition called Argyria where their skin takes on a grey colour due to the presence of silver compounds in it.

Another area of controversy is the current and voltage involved. That opens up a whole other area of quackery with sellers claiming that they use special frequencies or high voltage, or AC versus DC to make a better colloidal silver solution. Others suggest that turbulence results in smaller particles of silver being encouraged from the electrodes as they detach.

The silver electrodes are usually made of pure “.999” (99.9% pure) silver wire. This is available from bullion merchants and jewellery supply companies. Standard Sterling silver used in jewellery is usually an alloy with 92.5% silver and other elements like copper to make it more workable. When buying the .999 fine silver wire you can choose the diameter (usually 2mm to 3mm for electrodes) and the length. It gets cut, coiled and then weighed to determine the price. Because it’s an “investment” metal the price fluctuates wildly with global austerity.

If you’ve made colloidal silver in the past, let me know what sort of setup you used and what your thoughts are on its safety.

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