Vol. 1, #19
December 11, 2004

Q: What is colloidal silver and what are the benifits of using it? - Layperson

A: There are three distinctly different types of silver that are labeled and sold on the market as colloidal silver; they are ionic silver, silver protein, and true colloidal silver. Consumers seeking true colloidal silver are often at a disadvantage because each of these products represents themselves as colloidal silver.

Colloidal is a term describing a substance containing particles so small they remain suspended in liquid or gas. In this case, silver is suspended in pure steam-distilled water.

Colloidal particles, unlike dissolved particles in a suspension, stay in solution and retain their whole form and qualities. Silver atoms are small enough to pass through mucous membranes in the mouth and intestinal lining.

Colloidal silver is the result of an electromagnetic process that pulls microscopic particles from silver into a liquid, such as distilled water. As tiny particles, the silver can more easily penetrate and travel throughout the body.

These tiny particles vary in size, depending on the manufacturing process utilized. The larger the particles, the more difficult for them to be absorbed by the body. The color of colloidal silver is also affected by the size of the particles. In most instances, it can range from clear (very small particles) to very dark brown or even black (large particles).

The smaller the size of the particle, the easier it is to be absorbed and have access to most areas of the body. The smallest particle size is an atom. This colloidal silver is called "monatomic" and produces a solution that is CRYSTAL CLEAR. The "monatomic" colloidal silver will stay in solution, and it is NOT sensitive to light or temperature. In other words, it needs no special handling, and has no expiration date.

Types of Colloidal Silver

The three types of products that consumers find labeled as colloidal silver can be categorized as follows: ionic silver solutions, silver protein solutions, and true colloidal silver.

Ionic Silver Solutions

The vast majority of products labeled and sold as colloidal silver fall into this category. The silver content in these products consists of both silver ions and silver particles, neither of which are silver colloids. Typically 90% of the silver content is in the form of ionic silver, due to the low degree of manufacturing complexity and resulting low cost of production. The silver ions are produced by electrolysis and may be described as dissolved silver. Products are produced by electrolysis and are frequently described as "electro colloids". The remaining 10% of the solution is silver particles. Because the majority of the silver content in these products is dissolved silver rather than metallic silver particles, it would be more technically accurate to describe these products as silver solutions.

Confusingly, ads for these products frequently claim that silver ions are small silver particles or describe the product as consisting of ionic silver particles. Silver ions are not the same as silver particles and the two terms are not interchangeable.

Silver Protein (a/k/a Mild Silver Protein)

Silver protein products are the second most prevalent type of so-called colloidal silver products on the market. These products consist of a combination of metallic silver particles and a protein binder, and can easily be produced by simply adding water to silver protein powder sold by various chemical companies.

Most products claiming to be high concentrations of colloidal silver (typically in the range of 30 to 20,000 ppm) are in fact silver protein colloids. While some of these products are labeled as Silver Protein or Mild Silver Protein , many such products are simply labeled as colloidal silver and the word protein does not appear anywhere on the label or in the product advertising literature.

Silver protein products generally have very large silver particles, so large that they would not remain suspended as colloidal particles without protein additives. Protein additives help to keep the large particles from settling. While various protein binders may be used, the protein most commonly used is gelatin , which is made by boiling the skin, tendons, and ligaments of animals. For large metallic silver particles to remain suspended in water, they need additional buoyancy to keep from sinking. Gelatin molecules will encapsulate each particle of silver and add enough buoyancy so that it does not sink to the bottom. The presence of gelatin creates a risk of bacteria and is one of the dangers of taking this product.

Of the three types of colloidal silver, silver protein products have the lowest particle surface area for a given silver concentration , making the silver inaccessible for safe human absorption and less effective for human use. Particle surface area is the single most important determinant of colloidal silver effectiveness.

Testing For Silver Protein

To find out whether you have a silver protein product rather than a true silver colloid, look for these characteristics:

Makes foam: When shaken, a silver protein product produces foam above the liquid that will persist for minutes after being shaken. This is probably the single most reliable indicator. Even when the product label identifies the product simply as colloidal silver and never mentions the word protein, this indicator will signal the presence of a protein binder. Shake the bottle and look for foaming. When the foam persists, protein is present.

Concentration: Silver protein products tend to have very high concentration values, typically in the range of 30 to 20,000 ppm. Concentration is expressed in parts per million (ppm) and is numerically the same as milligrams of silver per liter of water (mg/L). Color: The color ranges from light amber to almost black with an increasing concentration of silver.

Due to the high concentration of large silver particles, silver protein products are known to cause argyria, a condition that causes the skin to turn blue-gray. Adding protein to colloidal silver is also potentially unsafe because of bacteria. Mild silver protein products have been found to have live bacteria growing on the protein. This can happen when protein is mixed with colloidal silver because the protein molecules are large and encapsulate the silver particles, which prevent the silver from reaching the bacteria to kill it. Normally, it would be impossible for bacteria to live in colloidal silver, but it is common in products containing protein. For this reason, silver protein products should be avoided.

True Colloidal Silver

True colloidal silver products are the least prevalent type of colloidal silver on the market due to high degree of manufacturing complexity and the resulting high cost of production.

In true colloidal silver, the majority of the silver content is in the form of silver particles. True colloids will typically contain more than 50% particles (often 50 to 80%), while the balance (20% to 49%) will be silver ions. When referring to colloidal silver, the word colloid means silver particles.

The two critical factors to look for in determining true colloids are the percentage of silver particles and the surface particle area.

Of all the types of silver marketed as colloidal, true colloidal silver products have the highest particle surface area. High particle surface area is achieved by a high percentage of silver particles combined with very small sized particles. Of the three types of silver on the market, true silver colloids have the highest particle surface area relative to the total silver content. The ratio of particle surface area to total silver content indicates how efficiently the colloid is able to produce particle surface area which determines effectiveness. Higher conversion efficiencies are more desirable.

The nanometer-sized particles in true silver colloids remain in colloidal suspension without requiring protein or other additives. It is the mutual repulsion of the particles created by the zeta potential charge that keeps the particles uniformly distributed in the colloid.

Determining True Silver Colloids

Because of the high concentration of silver particles, true silver colloids are never clear like water. True colloidal silver with a sufficient concentration of particles does not look like water because silver particles -- even very small particles -- block light from passing through, making the liquid appear darker.


Due to the very low concentration of ionic silver and small particle size, true silver colloids do not cause argyria, a condition that causes the skin to turn blue-gray.


Argyria is the graying of the skin. Colloidal silver can be produced either chemically or electrically. Argyria is a result of ingesting high doses of CHEMICALLY produced colloidal silver. There has never been a case of Argyria caused by ELECTRICALLY produced colloidal silver.

Please be absolutely clear about this, electrically produced silver colloid DOES NOT cause Argyria. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people around the world have been taking ELECTRICALLY produced colloidal silver for decades. The concern is with silver salts, NOT colloidal silver.

A Cure for Argyria: The Formula

3 Vitamin E 1000 mg 100% Natural d-alpha Tocopheryl
1 Selenium 100mcg yeast free
2 vegetarian Vitamin C 1000 mg
1 teaspoon MSM organic
1 super potency Vitamin B 100
1 teaspoon of Kelp powder

Taken every morning with 2 16oz glasses of water, with close to 3/4 of a gallon drinking water a day.

Note: Many claims have been made for the various forms of silver to fight bacterial, fungal, and viral infections as well as numerous diseases. There are many scientific studies backing many of these claims, but very few done on human subjects. Most information is often taken out of context and the very same information can be interpeted for or against silver products. Seek the supervision of a healthcare professional.

December 4, 2004 Newsletter

DISCLAIMER:  The information in this column, is NOT intended to diagnose and/or treat any health related issues and is provided solely for informational purposes only. Consult the appropriate healthcare professional before making any changes to your healthcare regime. Even what may seem like simple changes in the diet for example, can interact with, and alter, the efficiency of medications and/or the body's response to the medications. Many herbs and supplements exert powerful medicinal effects. Neither the author, nor the website designers, assume any responsibility for the reader's use or misuse of this information.

© 2002 Nature's Corner