World silver mine output climbed marginally in 2021 to an expected 24,000 tonnes. The majority of output comes from mines in Argentina, India, Mexico, and Peru. Silver is experiencing an increase in demand from the tech, automotive, and renewable energy sectors — however, the history of its use by humans dates back millennia. Silver is a versatile metal — without it, many everyday objects we rely on would not exist (including the device you’re using to read this article)! Keep reading for more fun and interesting facts about silver.
Chemical Properties of Silver
- The symbol Ag represents silver on the periodic table. It has an atomic weight of 107.8682 and an atomic number of 47.
- Pure silver is a naturally occurring element and can be found in mineral deposits along with copper, lead, and zinc, and nickel.
- Exposure to sulphur-containing gases in the air causes silver to tarnish. The discoloration appears as a layer of dark tarnish on the surface.
- Silver is the second most ductile metal after gold, and one ounce of silver can be converted into an 8,000-foot-long cable.
- Silver is the best electric conductor among the elements and is used as a tool to test other metals. On a scale used to test conductive properties, silver ranks 100, with copper at 97 and gold at 76.
- Silver is the best thermal conductivity of any metal, yet it also has the lowest contact resistance.
- The melting point of silver is 961.78 degrees Celsius, while its boiling point is 2162 degrees Celsius.
- Silver has 35 isotopes with known half-lives and mass values ranging from 94 to 128.
- Silver, having a density of 10.5g/cm3, is categorized as a transition metal.
- The term ‘silver’ is of Germanic origin. In old English, the metal was referred to as ‘seolfor.’ (Dutch zilver and German Silber.)
- Around 3,000 BCE, silver was first mined in Anatolia, which is now part of modern-day Turkey. Silver played a significant role in the rise of ancient civilizations in the Near East and Ancient Greece.
- The ancient Egyptians placed a higher value on silver over gold. They believed that while the gods’ skin was gold, their bones were silver. Silver was first mined in the Mediterranean region. Historians think the Egyptians imported all of their silver and held it at a 1:1 ratio.
- Archaeologists also discovered silver’s use in ancient China, Korea, Japan, and South America. Silver was used in rituals and given as gifts to prominent figures.
- Mexico and Peru currently produce the majority of the world’s silver. Other countries with significant silver reserves include the United States, Canada, Russia, and Australia. The majority of it is discovered as a byproduct of copper, lead, and zinc mining.
- The South American country, Argentina, stems its name from the Latin argentum, which means silver. This was inspired by the mythology of the Sierra del Plata, a silver mountain range where Spaniards arrived in 1524.
- Silver has been used as an antimicrobial for hundreds of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans used silver to disinfect their water and food supplies. In ancient times, silver was also used as a wound dressing to cure burns and wounds.
- In wartimes, topical silver nitrate was used to treat the wounds of soldiers who were injured in battle. Since the 1800s, silver nitrate has been applied topically to treat burns, ulcerations, and infected wounds. Its use declined during WWII when the use of antibiotics became more prevalent.
- Pure silver is not toxic to humans — some silver compounds can enter the circulatory system, and reduced silver can be deposited in numerous physiological tissues.
- Unlike antibiotics, bacteria cannot develop resistance to silver.
- Societies first used silver as a form of currency circa 700BC.
- In 1158, King Henry II issued the first silver coin in England.
- In the 7th century BC, the Lydians were the first to utilize silver as money, and the Greeks swiftly adopted it.
- Because silver in its pure form is too malleable (soft and bendable) to wear, jewellers add other metals, such as copper, to make it more durable for everyday use Sterling silver is the most prevalent type of silver and has 92.5% purity, with the remaining 7.5% made up of other metals such as copper.
- Silver is utilized in dentistry, electronics, photography, mirrors, soldering and brazing alloys, printed circuits, jewellery, art, coinage, and cutlery.
- Fim photographs require silver nitrate compounds to make the celluloid film light sensitive. Before digitization, nearly 30% of US silver consumption was for film use.
- Silver is utilized in solar panels, electrical circuits and contacts, medical device batteries such as pacemakers and hearing aids, and space exploration