Silver is a transition metal. It is the second element in the eleventh column of the periodic table. Silver has an atomic number of 47 and its symbol is Ag which comes from the Latin word ‘Argentum’ which means silver. Silver has a melting point of 961°C and a boiling point of 2162°C. It has the highest electrical conductivity of all elements and highest thermal conductivity of all metals. Silver is found in its natural free form but most of the silver is obtained as a byproduct of gold, copper and lead refining.
Silver is a very ductile and malleable metal. it is soft, white and lustrous metal and is very reflective. It has the highest electrical conductivity of all elements. In fact, its electrical conductivity is even greater than copper, the most commonly used metal for electrical cables and wirings.
However, the greater cost of silver prevents its widespread use in electric wires and cables. Pure silver has the highest thermal conductivity among all metals. Silver is also used for making jewelry because it is not very reactive. It does not react with air or moisture but it does react with sulfur compounds and tarnishes upon exposure to air and moisture containing these two.
Silver has been used for making jewelry and silverware since ages. It has also been a very popular coinage metal and evidence suggests that silver coins were first used around 700 BC. Sterling silver, an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper is mainly used for making jewelry and silverware.
Silver is also used in solar power sector and is used to manufacture crystalline solar photovoltaic panels and plasmonic solar cells. Other uses include air conditioning, water purification, dentistry, photography and electronics, glass coatings, medicines and also for inhibiting fungal and bacteria growth in clothes.
Listed below are some very interesting and rarely known facts about Silver:
- Pound Sterling, the official currency of UK was initially equal in value to one pound of silver.
- Before digital cameras became a rage, 30% of total silver produced was used in photography.
- In United States, an alloy can only be called silver if it has at least 90% silver.
- Silver’s name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘seolfor’. There is no word in English language that rhymes with silver.
- Silver is one of the oldest metals discovered by humans. It is believed that siler was discovered around 5000 BC.
- While silver is commonly found in gold, copper, zinc and lead alloys, it is also found in free state (native silver).
- While silver is germicidal and kills bacteria, it is not toxic to humans. However, most of the silver salts are toxic.
- Silver is very ductile and an ounce of silver can be pounded into an 8000 feet long wire.
- Silver is the best thermal conductor of all metals and the lines we see on the rear windscreen of cars that are used for defrosting and defogging are made from silver.
- At least 14 languages have the same word for both silver and money.
- Mexico is the world leader in silver mining and is followed by Peru. Other major silver producers are Bolivia, United States, Canada, Russia and Australia.
- Although, silver is valued lesser than gold, in ancient Egypt silver was considered more valuable than gold.
- The price of silver is 1/64 of gold presently. The price of silver has fluctuated between 1/15 and 1/100 of gold, since 1915.
- Adherents of Christianity believe that Judas Iscariot was paid silver coins as a bribe to betray Jesus Christ.