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It’s Silver Lining Or Tarnished Reputation?

Many metals have antibiotic properties, such as copper, brass, bronze, and silver.  Bacteria that come in contact with these metals have their cellular activity disrupted in a number of ways that are deadly to the cells.  

This is not true of stainless steel or aluminum, for example, two popular metals that are a mainstay of modern buildings.  Most hospitals and medical facilities are now in the process of replacing the shiny, easy to maintain surfaces with traditional brass or copper; this includes doorknobs, push bars, light fixtures and so on because they possess surfaces that are toxic to those deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria named MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), C. difficile, and others.

Most modern physicians’ examination tables are imbued with silver particles that are completely harmless to humans but deadly to bacteria.  The last thing your doctor wants is for you to pick up something from a previous patient!  

Metallic History

For millennia humanity has known about the interesting properties of metals.  Three metals (called native metals) occur in a relatively pure state: copper, gold, and silver.  Copper was probably the first discovered, and the earliest references we find comes from the Middle East in 9000 B.C.E., more than 11,000 years ago.

Between 5000 and 3000 B.C.E. we find evidence of melting copper and the first experiments with smelting.  It is only 500 years later in 2500 B.C.E. that we find gold and silver starting to be used for decorative work because they were so easy to work and shape.  

In the centuries that followed we learned to separate metals that only occurred with other things; this refining soon permitted tin, lead, and iron to join humanity’s repertoire.

Copper and tin mixed together (2000 B.C.E.) gave us a brand new substance called Bronze which was much stronger than raw copper, and was solely responsible for the epoch known as the Bronze Age.  Lead was a relatively soft metal and allowed the manufacture of water vessels and eventually the pipes for the Roman water system.

Iron was a real game changer (1500 B.C.E.), which gave us another important epoch, the Iron Age.  Tools and weapons became magnificently durable.

Why was Silver Important?

Silver was very easy to work; artisans could create extremely finely detailed jewelry that pleased rulers and the upper class.  It could also be very tough when metallurgists began blending it with a bit of mercury in the 2nd century (200-300 C.E.) to make an amalgam.  Long-lasting and tough knives, spoons, and forks became all the rage.  

All the wealthiest Romans had these “eating tools”, and suddenly they saw that when they ate with silverware, there was a significantly decreased chance of getting sick from food that had spoiled.  Silver was killing bacteria, even though they didn’t know that bacteria existed.  This knowledge of disease prevention penetrated all through ancient Europe, where silverware was subsequently used very widely.  

The Modern Age

To this day it is common practice in Australia to put some silverware in the household cistern to inhibit bacterial growth.  Early settlers opening up the American West kept silver, usually in the form of coins, in the milk jugs, vinegar casks, and water kegs to prevent spoilage.  Native Americans were known to use layers of hammered-thin silver to preserve easily spoiled food.

It was only a matter of time before it occurred to somebody that putting silver in a shower filter might be useful.  What they experienced was that typical, household water, with a neutral pH had ionic silver release well within accepted safety standards.  Saline, hard, or acidic water (pH 6.0 or less) caused the release of silver molecules that were 5 to 10 times higher than the acceptable standard.

Why is there a Standard?

Bacteria possess the ability to adapt to toxins.  Significant overuse of antibiotics has allowed super-bugs to evolve defenses against almost all of our antibiotics.  Although metals work by a completely different mechanism, bacteria can adapt to these bacteriotoxic metals if the exposure is great enough in the environment.  They have seven ways to deal with these damaging metals, but so far, only seem to be able to deal with one or two different types at a time.  

That means these metals (the dark blue dots in the image) are still toxic even to some of the most resistant bacteria.  Hopefully we will develop new, more powerful antibacterial medications.  In the meantime it’s important not to overuse silver and risk its effectiveness.

Nano-silver particles (those less than 50 nm in size, or 50 billionths of a meter) are equivalent to taking a single human hair cross section, and dividing it into 10,000 pieces.  Although we’ve been using colloidal silver (50-100nm or more) for millennia, nano-sized silver particles are something we have only just recently learned to make.  They are small enough to get inside human cells and potentially cause harm.

Environmentalists have been arguing that releasing too much nano-silver could cause the destruction of bacteria in the environment which would mean an end to all life on Earth.  The counterargument is that nano-sized silver particles have always existed on Earth and, if they were going to destroy the useful bacteria population of our planet, it would have happened billions of years ago.

The latter argument carries more weight because Nano-silver released into the environment very quickly clumps up into colloidal silver, or connects with inert minerals, and is reabsorbed safely into the environment.  Nevertheless, it’s better to err on the side of caution, so the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) requires approval before a silver-bearing product can be used or sold to the public.

The Takeaway

If your water supply swarms with E. coli or other bacteria, then silver could help, but if we’re being completely honest here, you need a Point Of Entry (POE) water filtration system for your whole house, not just a shower filter.

Remember: our shower filters do not use any silver at all as we do our part to keep it effective for people that really need it.  When folks, such as burn victims, need protection from opportunistic infections, silver-laced gels are highly effective in preventing infections to their wounds while their skin is regrowing.  

You do not require silver to protect you from bacteria, pesticides, heavy metal poisoning, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, and that inadequately treated municipal water with excessive levels of chlorine.  You really don’t need anything more than an excellent-quality, well-designed shower filter by AquaBliss.

 

We are big fans of real science here at AquaBliss.  We don’t need to scare you to make you use our products; and we don’t need to deceive you so that you don’t use someone else’s product.  We just tell you the truth, because we believe you are smart enough to make your own wise decision!

If you live in an area with over-chlorinated water and other undesirable contaminants (as most of us do), please feel free to look over our exceptional selection of high quality filtration products.  We’re more than happy to answer any questions you may have.  Just click here to go directly to our online contact form and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!


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