Nine Shiny Facts About the Metal Silver

by KIDS DISCOVER

Silver

It’s a precious metal found in lots of jewelry, but silver has plenty of everyday uses in electronics, medicine, paint, photography, currency, clothing, and more. Here are some facts you probably didn’t know about silver … .

Name: Its name comes from the Anglo-Saxon seolfor, but silver’s chemical symbol, Ag, is based on its Latin name, argentum.

Industry: Silver conducts heat and electricity better than all other elements, which is why it’s used in things like solar panels, electrical circuits, and rear window defoggers.

Heat: Silver melts at 1,763.2 degrees Fahrenheit, and it boils at 3,924 degrees Fahrenheit. So yeah, go ahead … you can stir soup with the good silverware.

Tarnish: That dark stuff that appears on silver and makes it need polishing is actually silver sulfide, a compound formed when silver interacts with sulfur in the air … or in eggs. Which is why some people don’t use good silverware with eggs or mayonnaise.

Coins: Until 1964, all United States dimes, quarters, half-dollars, and dollar coins contained 90 percent silver. So keep your eyes peeled when you get change at the market, because every now and then you can still find a real silver coin.

Bendiness: After gold, silver is the easiest metal to work with — you can stretch it into superfine wire or pound it into superthin foil (would you believe 150 times thinner than paper?).

Weather: Silver can make it rain! When silver iodide is dropped onto clouds in a process called “seeding,” it often provokes a rainfall.

Medicine: Silver is great at killing bacteria, which is why it’s sometimes used in wound dressings at burn units. And bacteria don’t adapt to silver’s germicidal properties the way they become immune to antibiotics.

Hygiene: You know what else bacteria do? They cause B.O. That’s why some fancy athletic clothing contains tiny silver fibers, which reduce or eliminate smells. But rubbing earrings or spoons under your arms in the morning really won’t help.

KIDS DISCOVER

KIDS DISCOVER For over 25 years, we’ve been creating beautifully crafted nonfiction products for kids. With a specialty in science and social studies, our team of talented writers, award-winning designers and illustrators, and subject-experts from leading institutions is committed to a single mission: to get children excited about reading and learning.